After finishing four parts in this series (links are below), and present the 5th part here, I’ve finally determined that there will be a total of eight parts in this series. Only three more to go, as today’s post discusses the Obama administration’s leadership on human trafficking.
The administration hasn’t done much on the issue, and it would be tough to take action within the next two years among the other issues to be addressed, but it’s great that human trafficking is mentioned as a human rights issue that needs to be addressed. Human trafficking is a gross human rights violation that doesn’t get enough attention, and although it’s associated with many other countries around the world, this problem is also happening here in the United States. A big part of the issue is changing some of the laws, as in some states, trafficking victims are treated like criminals instead of victims. For example, if they are forced into prostitution, then they are more likely to be treated as a criminal for selling sex, instead of as a victim for being a sex slave.
Combating Human Trafficking
Following President Obama’s call to action at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2012, and continuing with the first-ever White House Forum to Combat Human Trafficking in April 2013, a report and recommendations to the President by his Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and a further set of commitments announced this past September, the Administration has been working across the Federal government and with partners in Congress, local, state, and foreign governments and civil society to deliver on an ambitious agenda to combat modern-day slavery, which afflicts far too many communities, both here at home and around the globe.
Improving Victim Services and Building Effective Law Enforcement:
Identifying and serving victims and ensuring effective law enforcement are core elements of our efforts to promote successful anti-trafficking strategies, both at home and abroad. To better coordinate and strengthen services for victims of human trafficking in the United States, the Administration is developing the first-ever comprehensive federal strategic action plan, which details a series of coordinated actions to strengthen the reach and effectiveness of services provided to victims of human trafficking. In addition to numerous law enforcement initiatives at federal, state, and local levels, federal agencies have also recently launched a pilot project with ten embassies around the world to increase the flow of actionable trafficking-related law enforcement information from host countries to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the United States, which will be used to identify victims and human traffickers both in the United States and around the globe.
Shining a Light on Government Responses to Trafficking Around the World
The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) each year sheds light on the global dimensions of the human trafficking problem, including child soldiering, sex trafficking, and forced labor, and on the anti-trafficking efforts of over 180 governments, including the United States. The honest assessments provided in the TIP Report have proven to be one of our strongest tools to encourage foreign governments to take responsibility for the trafficking occurring within and across their borders and to help target our anti-trafficking foreign assistance. In addition to the information highlighted in the TIP Report, we also engage bilaterally at the highest levels of government on this issue, make targeted use of sanctions, and support foreign governments and stakeholders on a broad array of anti-trafficking initiatives.
Strengthening Protections in Federal Contracting
In September 2012, President Obama signed Executive Order 13627 to strengthen our country’s existing zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking in government contracting, outlining prohibitions on trafficking-related activities that will apply to federal contractors and subcontractors, and providing federal agencies with additional tools to foster compliance. This past September, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council issued a proposed rule to implement this Executive Order and the Ending Trafficking in Government Contracting provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013. The Department of Defense has also published a proposed regulatory supplement with additional steps that the Department will take to further prevent trafficking in its own supply chain.
The Administration has been working with partners in civil society and the private sector to find new ways to harness the power of technology to more effectively combat human trafficking. As one of many such examples, after being brought together by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Women and Girls, leading technology companies have partnered with advocates and survivors to develop new online applications to reach trafficking victims online and on their phones and link them with services in their community. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center – which, since its launch, has received nearly 90,000 calls and identified close to 12,000 victims – is now operating on a new mobile texting platform to more effectively connect with under-reached victim populations.