Taking 'A Whole Village Approach' to Combating Human Trafficking in Pakistan

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Participants at the July 11 Trafficking in Persons conference at Peshawar’s Pearl Continental Hotel. (U.S. Department of State photo)
Participants at the July 11 Trafficking in Persons conference at Peshawar’s Pearl Continental Hotel. (U.S. Department of State photo)

Taking 'A Whole Village Approach' to Combating Human Trafficking in Pakistan

Did you know that the U.S. Department of State leads our nation’s global engagement to combat human trafficking and supports the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts across the U.S. government?

The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) partners with foreign governments, international organizations, federal agencies, civil society, the private sector, and trafficking survivors to develop and implement effective strategies to confront human trafficking, also known as modern slavery.  Every year, the TIP Office publishes the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.

The U.S. Department of State also has a federal law enforcement agency – the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) – that is uniquely positioned to investigate human trafficking cases in the U.S. and overseas. DSS Regional Security Offices (RSOs) help build host-nation law enforcement capacity to combat human trafficking.

The RSO at U.S. Consulate General Peshawar hosted a July 11 seminar titled “A Whole Village Approach” to provide a forum to discuss legislative, prosecutorial, and victim protection efforts related to human trafficking. The attendees included members of Pakistan’s Frontier Constabulary and National Assembly, University of Peshawar students and professors, and several local lawyers, business leaders, and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Regional Security Officer Wil Makaneole provided opening remarks and Consulate Peshawar Assistant Regional Security Officer (ARSO) Matthew Kelley and ARSO Keith LaGesse led interactive discussions on the U.S. law enforcement approach to human trafficking and the vital role civil society organizations serve as intermediaries and advocates for survivors and as victim support service providers.

“Participants said they appreciated the consulate’s role in convening the gathering and expressed hope that we could follow up with similar human trafficking-focused events in the future,” said Kelley. “DSS saw this seminar as an opportunity to assist the host nation in its fight against trafficking in persons.”

The July 11 seminar was designed by Consulate Peshawar as an inexpensive program that can be replicated in different cities in Pakistan. Kelley “hopes there will be future seminars highlighting the importance of law enforcement cooperation and partnership with NGOs and civil society as a tool to combat modern slavery.”

DSS is especially effective when combining its global reach to assist and augment other federal agencies, municipal police departments, and human trafficking task forces. For example, some of DSS’s strongest human trafficking-related cases were the result of teamwork on Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACT) in Miami, Minneapolis, and New York.  (US v BASTON; US v BART, CABRERA, SVIHEL; US v KIM, et. al)

“DSS investigators working within U.S. embassies and consulates are directly integrated with our domestic field and resident offices, allowing our special agents and analysts to present investigations for prosecution by U.S. Attorneys,” said Supervisory Special Agent John Freeman, DSS Trafficking in Person’s Coordinator. “This is particularly useful when investigating passport and visa fraud.”

Member of National Assembly Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak delivers the keynote address. (U.S. Department of State photo)

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About the Author: Eric Weiner serves in the Diplomatic Security Service's Office of Public Affairs.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.