About the Author: Ambassador Luis CdeBaca serves as Director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.
Secretary Clinton, who has led the fight against modern-day slavery for over a decade, has introduced a new way forward in tackling this heinous crime. To our three ‘P’ paradigm of prosecution, protection, and prevention, she is adding a fourth ‘P’: partnership.
This includes partnership between governments; between law enforcement and NGOs; between federal, state, and local agencies; and between the public and private sectors. So, we are committed to fostering partnerships within the U.S. government among the more than ten federal agencies that fight human trafficking at home and abroad. From investigating and prosecuting traffickers, to providing medical help for victims, to preventing slave labor in supply chains, the U.S. government is committing the full weight of its resources and power to ensure that men, women, and children are treated with full dignity and respect.
I’m blogging this week about two great examples of partnership with federal agencies that may not immediately spring to mind when people think of modern-day slavery issues – the Department of Education and the Department of Defense.
On Monday, I had the privilege of speaking at the 2009 “Power of Change” national conference sponsored by the Department of Education. More than 2,000 teachers, superintendents, health officials, principals, and police officers attended the opening plenary session, hosted by the Office of Safe & Drug-Free Schools.
I was pleased that the organizers for the first time included human trafficking on the agenda, because trafficking threatens the safety of our children and our communities. With co-panelist Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, I called these educators’ attention to how trafficking can affect the children in their care. This is especially important because the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines those children who are maintained in prostitution as trafficking victims.
Every one of the conference attendees was essentially a ‘first responder’ on this issue. They serve on the front lines of this fight. They see their students every day and notice the signs of abuse. Or they have the relationships of trust with students that lead kids to reach out to them when in trouble.
All who work with young people should be aware of the dangers that threaten their students. Technology increasingly has become a trafficking tool, with internet fora used not just to exchange apartments or furniture, but to make prostitution assignations. Offenders use chat rooms, message boards, and specialized websites to obtain information about where vulnerable young victims can be found. The most vulnerable girls are those considered “throw-away” or runaway youth from dysfunctional families. They are at risk of becoming prey to pimps who lure them with the promise of love and security, only to expose them to a world of cruelty and violence.
On Tuesday, in contrast to the audience at the Department of Education, I addressed a gathering of commissioned officers and brigadier generals at the Department of Defense’s two-day anti-TIP conference. The conference was part of mandatory trafficking awareness training for all military personnel.
In addition to this required training for all U.S. service members, DOD should be commended for its efforts to take action through anti-TIP Public Service Announcements broadcast throughout the world on the Armed Forces Network, a hotline for reporting incidences of TIP, and a zero tolerance policy outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice on service members contributing to sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. An exciting new initiative by DOD will seek to ensure that slave labor or slave-made goods do not taint our procurement supply chains or those contractors who support deployments overseas.
Much like the Department of State, DOD has a global mission in addition to its domestic presence. Their reach makes them an important partner to help raise awareness, identify trafficking, and take action. U.S. service members can identify and report incidences where they witness people exploited against their will in bars and clubs, in labor contracts globally, or in private homes as domestic servants.
If you’d like to know how to report possible trafficking in the United States or abroad, please visit our website for a global hotlines list of anti-trafficking resources, or here in the United States call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. You, too, can be an important partner in abolishing modern-day slavery.