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Homeland Security

Washington File

05 June 2003

Dobriansky Denounces Human Trafficking

(Speaks at Child Trafficking Conference in Finland) (2110)
Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky
reasserted the U.S. commitment to the worldwide fight against
trafficking in persons as she participated in a conference on the
subject in Finland June 1-3.
"The Government of the United States is firmly committed to combating
trafficking in all its forms, ensuring criminals who engage in
trafficking are aggressively investigated, swiftly prosecuted, and
severely punished, and that victims are provided with the assistance
they need," Dobriansky said.
The U.S. approach is based in the principle that support of victims is
critical, Dobriansky said, noting the creation of a special visa
category allowing victims in the United States to remain in the
country after they have been liberated from traffickers. She said U.S.
agencies are also working to provide shelter, food, clothing, medical
assistance and translation services to victims.
Last year, the United States spent about $55 million on
anti-trafficking programs in more than 50 countries, and Dobriansky
urged more countries to join in the effort.
Following is the transcript of the Dobriansky speech:
(begin transcript)
Conference to Stop Child Trafficking: Modern-Day Slavery
Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Remarks to Trafficking in Persons conference, June 1-3, 2003
Helsinki, Finland
June 3, 2003
Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking some of the people without
whom this conference would not have been possible:
-- President Tarja Halonen of Finland.
-- President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia.
-- Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki of Finland.
-- Ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson of Sweden.
-- Ambassador Adele Dion of Canada.
-- Congressman Chris Smith of the United States.
-- And last, but certainly not least, Ambassador Bonnie
McElveen-Hunter, without whose inspiration and dedication this
conference would never have become a reality.
Slavery and bondage are the reality for millions of children
worldwide. Alarmingly, human trafficking -- and particularly
trafficking in children -- continues and appears to be on the rise
worldwide. Most nations of the world are touched by it in some way,
especially impoverished countries where children are transported to
distant lands and enslaved through labor or commercial sexual
exploitation. Resource rich destination countries, like Finland and
the United States, also are affected as we uncover criminal operations
moving children into sexual slavery or involuntary servitude.
Traffickers exploit the aspirations of those living in poverty and
seeking better lives.
Civil conflicts and HIV/AIDS are dramatically increasing the number of
orphans and displaced people. Civil conflict, political instability,
famine, HIV/AIDS, and economic stagnation mean the number of
individuals in desperate situations, particularly women and children,
is growing. The dramatic rise in households headed by children may
create fertile ground for traffickers. In Tanzania, 11% of children
are orphans; 920,000 have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS and
165,000 children have lost both parents. South Africa's Department of
Health estimates there were 420,000 HIV/AIDS orphans in 2001; this
number could increase to 1 million by 2005, according to Nelson
Mandela's Children s Fund.
Increasing numbers of victims of commercial sexual exploitation are
returned home with HIV/AIDS and other health problems, and increasing
numbers of child prostitutes and street children are exposed to a
whole range of diseases. Trafficked children are less likely to
participate in immunization programs, defeating government efforts to
eradicate early childhood diseases.
Trafficking in persons is one of the most heinous crimes plaguing our
societies. It leaves no land untouched, including the United States.
Anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 people are trafficked into the
United States each year, depending on the source. In addition, there
are around 200,000 young people in America who may be victims of
trafficking within the United States. The Government of the United
States is firmly committed to combating trafficking in all its forms,
ensuring criminals who engage in trafficking are aggressively
investigated, swiftly prosecuted, and severely punished, and that
victims are provided with the assistance they need.
We also are committed to working with concerned governments and
non-governmental organizations dedicated to combating trafficking.
This past February, we hosted a groundbreaking international
conference on the fight against trafficking to bring together several
hundred of the world s most active, and most innovative, leaders in
the field. Public and private sector leaders who are on the front
lines in this struggle met to exchange ideas and learn from one
another. Last week, we released a compilation of best practices, which
we are sending to each conference participant. While the United States
Government does not endorse every idea on the best practices list, the
list does include a number of practical suggestions such as:
-- Providing special courts to handle child testimony, shelter, and
rehabilitation services.
-- Establishing contact points in source, transit, and destination
countries so that governments and non-governmental organizations know
whom to contact in emergencies.
-- Providing trafficking victims who give testimony with adequate
safety, privacy, legal and social assistance, and the right to reside
in the prosecuting country. Those who work with children know that
special arrangements need to be made for them to insure that they are
not further traumatized by court proceedings.
-- Creating hotlines in every country to receive information on
trafficking.
-- Coordinating policies of donor countries to avoid duplication of
effort.
-- Creating and using tamper-resistant documents to identify children
from birth.
-- Using sub-regional task forces to address various aspects of
trafficking. For example, the Southeastern Europe task force meets
twice yearly and includes both government and non-governmental
representatives.
In addition to hosting this conference and thus facilitating
networking among trafficking experts around the world, the Bush
Administration has acted vigorously in the United States and
internationally to eradicate trafficking.
We have vigorously enforced U.S. laws against all those who traffic in
persons. The Justice Department has opened a significant number of
trafficking investigations and prosecuted a record number of
traffickers. From 2001 through 2002, the Justice Department more than
doubled the number of prosecutions and convictions to 36. Those
convicted have received stiff sentences, up to 10-12 years in prison
in some cases.
We are working hard to identify, protect, and assist those victims
exploited by traffickers, which includes the use of a special category
of visas to allow them to remain in the United States. The first
recipient of such a visa, called a T-visa, was a 3-year-old Thai boy
who had been sold by his mother to a trafficker. The Immigration and
Naturalization Service has granted such visas to trafficking victims.
There are many other current cases of children -- the Honduran
children, for example, who were quickly transferred to the Department
of Health and Human Services under a new trafficking minors program
that allows the United States to find and provide shelter in a
family-like environment, with food, clothing, medical needs,
translation services, as well as an assessment of their education and
speedy movement into proper educational facilities as soon as they are
able.
We are supporting programs around the world to assist indigenous
non-governmental organizations, international organizations, law
enforcement, and foreign governments to prevent trafficking and
improve their capacity to investigate, arrest, and prosecute
trafficking, and to assist victims. Last year, we spent some $55
million on anti-trafficking programs in over 50 countries.
We are just getting started in our efforts and we seek to increase the
number of prosecutions made and visas issued. The framework that
guides our comprehensive approach to anti-trafficking activities is
the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. This law criminalizes
the entire trafficking pipeline (from recruiters, transporters, to
exploiters), increases the penalties from 5 years to 20 years, and
contains a victim-centered approach that provides shelter and services
for victims. The Act also restructured the way our government attacks
trafficking.
At the highest level of our government, we were required by the Act to
set up the President's Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in
Persons. The Task Force includes Cabinet Secretaries such as the
Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Health and Human
Services, Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the National
Security Advisor. In addition, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
created the State Department s Office to Monitor and Combat
Trafficking in Persons, which coordinates U.S. assistance to
prevention, protection, and prosecution, programs abroad and also
compiles our yearly Trafficking in Persons Report.
President Bush has personally taken a leadership role in the fight
against trafficking in persons by issuing the first ever National
Security Presidential Directive on this issue. First and foremost,
this Directive makes clear that the fight against trafficking in
persons is a high priority for our government and acknowledges that
there is political will at the highest levels to attack it. It
stresses that vigorous law enforcement is important but also notes
that a victim-centered approach is critical. It calls for strong
diplomatic efforts, public outreach, and victim assistance. As part of
this approach, we provide shelter and other benefits for trafficking
victims in the United States. It directs all U.S. Government agencies
to create a strategic plan and to work together to abolish
trafficking. It also notes that prostitution is inherently harmful to
men, women, and children.
We are aggressively fighting against trafficking in persons, and we
want more countries to join us. Let me mention just a few of the
innovative anti-trafficking programs that we support, and the results
we have seen already:
-- In Albania, we support a variety of hard-hitting programs,
including the Delta Force, a rapid reaction unit to intercept
traffickers; an Organized Crime Unit, which has arrested child
traffickers, including several public officials, and the Office of
Internal Control within the Albanian police, which has investigated
and arrested police officers for complicity in trafficking.
-- In Romania, we helped create and support SECI, the Southeast
European Cooperative Initiative, a multi-lateral law enforcement
effort involving fourteen countries in Southeastern Europe. To date,
this initiative has had four successful operations resulting in the
arrest and conviction of traffickers and the rescue and safe return of
hundreds of young women and children. These operations are regional
cooperative law enforcement efforts that entail 100% border checks,
brothel and bar raids, and other concurrent multilateral and
in-country law enforcement operations to break up trafficking rings
and rescue victims. Another comparable initiative involving Georgia,
Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Moldova, and Azerbaijan is also getting underway.
-- The State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and
Migration funds a program run by the International Organization on
Migration for a rescue effort for children trafficked to work in rural
Ghanaian fishing villages. The International Organization on Migration
assists the fishermen to develop sustainable fisheries; the fishermen
in turn release the children to the International Organization on
Migration to repatriate to their families.
-- The State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in
Persons provided funding to the United Nations Crime Center to
produce, translate, and distribute a public service announcement on
child trafficking and labor.
-- The United States Agency for International Development supports the
activities of a non-governmental organization in Tanzania to increase
community awareness among children, parents, and police about
trafficking and to improve strategies to combat child trafficking.
-- The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons funded the
establishment of a safe house/shelter for non-Thai and hill tribe
women and children near Chiang Mai, Thailand.
-- The State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law
Enforcement Affairs sponsored a border security project in Albania.
Six Department of Justice Advisors train officials and monitor
port-of-entry operations at the airport and seaports.
-- The State Department's Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs
brings hundreds of International Visitors to the United States each
year to learn about trafficking. International Visitors include
government officials, non-governmental leaders, journalists and law
enforcement officials.
These projects are some of the innovative kinds of anti-trafficking
projects we support abroad.
Modern-day slavery violates the fundamental right of all persons to
life, liberty, and to be free from slavery in all its forms. It
undermines the rights of a child to grow up in the protective
environment of a family and to be free from sexual abuse and
exploitation. Trafficking also deprives thousands of children their
lives every year.
I am here today to pledge to you that my government will not waver in
its efforts to combat this modern day scourge. In the words of
President Bush, "While working at home and abroad to raise awareness
and to provide crucial assistance to victims, America is committed to
helping eliminate this and all other forms of trafficking in persons."
Thank you.
[End]
Released on June 4, 2003
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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