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Homeland Security

Washington File

11 June 2003

Powell Calls Human Trafficking "Morally Unacceptable"

(Annual survey shows many nations taking counter-trafficking measures) (1000)
Secretary of State Colin Powell unveiled the third annual Trafficking
in Persons Report June 11, saying that it demonstrates a heightened
attention and concern about this "horrifying practice."
The U.S. report estimates that approximately 800,000-900,000 people
are trafficked every year. "Girls as young as five are sold into
prostitution," Powell said at a Washington briefing upon the release
of the congressionally mandated report.
"The transnational character of this crime means that countries of
origin, transit and destination must work in partnership to prevent
trafficking, protect its victims, and prosecute those who are
responsible for trafficking," Powell said.
The report finds that many nations are strengthening laws against
trafficking, launching more aggressive prosecution and providing
better protections for victims. It also finds that 15 nations are not
adhering to international standards on counter-trafficking measures,
nor are they making "significant efforts" to do so. The law requiring
the report says nations failing to meet that standard could be subject
to sanctions that do not have humanitarian impact. Officials said the
president will make a decision on the imposition of sanctions by
October 1.
"Countries can avoid sanctions by working with us and taking prompt
action to improve their policies and practices," Powell said.
Following is the transcript of Powell's remarks:
(begin transcript)
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
June 11, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell On the Rollout of the 2003 Trafficking
in Persons Annual Report
June 11, 2003
Washington, D.C.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am
pleased to join Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula
Dobriansky and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat
Trafficking in Persons John Miller for the release today of the State
Department's Annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which will be
available to all of you.
This congressionally mandated report represents the United States'
deep commitment to stop the horrifying practice of human trafficking.
In our 21st century world, where freedom and democracy are spreading
to every continent, it is appalling and morally unacceptable that
hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are exploited, abused
and enslaved by peddlers in human misery.
The victims of trafficking are forced to toil under dehumanizing and
dangerous conditions on farms and in work camps, in brothels and in
sweatshops. Trafficking touches many countries across the globe,
including my own. An estimated 800- to 900,000 people are trafficked
every year. Nearly 20,000 of these victims enter the United States.
The transnational character of this crime means that countries of
origin, transit and destination must work in partnership to prevent
trafficking, protect its victims, and prosecute those who are
responsible for trafficking.
Using force, fraud and corruption, coercion and other horrible means,
traffickers prey on the powerless, the desperate and the vulnerable.
Girls as young as five are sold into prostitution; boys as young as 11
are being strong-armed into militias to serve as child soldiers or to
perform forced labor for the combatants. Traffickers turn the hopes of
poor men and women for a better life into a living nightmare of
degradation and despair, a nightmare that ends too often in disease
and death.
Trafficking not only wrecks lives, it subverts government authority,
threatens public health and is directly linked to other criminal
activity. And because of corruption, insufficient laws and weak
coordination within and between countries, traffickers frequently go
We hope that this report will help to raise awareness among
governments and publics and serve as a catalyst for coordinated
international action. In compiling our report, our embassies solicited
information from their host countries, nongovernmental organizations
and journalists. We also drew information from world bodies such as
the International Organization for Migration and the International
Labor Organization.
We have been able to add 30 countries to this year's report, as a
result of increased diplomatic dialogue and public attention to this
tragic problem.
I am also pleased to note that many countries are improving their
anti-trafficking efforts. Mauritius has developed a multi-agency
initiative to combat the sexual exploitation of children. Brazil is
fighting sex tourism by working with hotels to stop child
prostitution. The United Arab Emirates is the first government to ban
the use of underage, underweight jockeys in the camel racing industry.
And in Nepal, former victims are working alongside border officials to
identify traffickers and victims at key crossing points.
For our part, in the past two years the United States has provided
over $100 million in anti-trafficking programs across the globe. Much
of this money goes toward creating shelters and repatriation efforts
for the victims, and towards opening economic opportunities to help
rehabilitate them.
As required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, starting this
year, countries not making a significant effort to meet minimum
standards face the possibility of sanctions. Countries can avoid
sanctions by working with us and taking prompt action to improve their
policies and practices.
The United States stands prepared to help countries that demonstrate a
determined commitment to strengthen their domestic capacities for
combating trafficking. Working together, we can help the victims of
trafficking escape bondage and allow them to live in dignity and
freedom. Working in partnership, we can spare countless thousands the
pain that others have suffered.
We hope that our report will help tear down the trafficking industry.
As President Bush has said, "Freedom is a non-negotiable demand of
human dignity, the birthright of every person in every civilization."
Now I'm pleased to turn the podium over to the Director of the Office
to Monitor and Combat Terrorism -- Trafficking, rather, in Persons,
and that's John Miller. Trafficking really is a form of terrorism.
And let me take this opportunity to congratulate John and the
hardworking members of his staff for compiling this very, very
impressive report. Thank you, John.
(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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