The 2011 Global Trafficking in Persons Report

Special Briefing
Luis CdeBaca
Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Via Teleconference
Washington, DC
June 24, 2011

OPERATOR: Welcome, and thank you for standing by. All participants will be in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer portion. To ask a question at that time, please press * then 1. Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. And now I’d like to turn the meeting over to Ms. Heide Fulton.

MS. FULTON: Yes. Hello, everybody, and thank you for joining us today. We’re very pleased to have with us today Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who is the director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, who will give for you an on-the-record conference call briefing to preview the 2011 Global Trafficking in Persons Report.

However, I need to make clear that this report is going to be released publicly June 27th (inaudible). Sorry, we’re getting a little bit of feedback. If – I just want to point out that this report is embargoed – excuse me, this report – well, it is embargoed, but it’s being released to the public on Monday, June 27th, at 2:00 p.m. So this conference call, while it is on the record, the information is embargoed until 2:00 p.m. on Monday. So we’re glad to have the opportunity to speak with folks to prepare for – prepare you for your reporting on this, but I just need to stress that it’s embargoed until Monday.

So at this time, I’m going to turn it over to Ambassador CdeBaca to make some remarks, and then we’ll follow that with a question-and-answer period. Ambassador, over to you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you. Well, welcome, everyone. We look forward on Monday to releasing the annual Trafficking in Persons Report with Secretary Clinton. The Trafficking in Persons Report is in its 11th incarnation now. It’s created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which was the modern updating of our post-civil war antislavery statutes that happened in the fall of 2000 under the leadership of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the Attorney General Janet Reno as part of the President’s Interagency Council on Women and with the bipartisan support up on Capitol Hill.

That bipartisan support and that interagency commitment is mirrored in what we’re doing in the Obama Administration on this problem of modern slavery. What we’ve seen in the last 10 years since the passage of our domestic legislation, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in October of 2000, and the foreign – the international law standards, the Palermo Protocol at the UN, which came out in December of 2000, is a decade of progress in developing the tools that have been prescribed by what we call the three-P paradigm – the three Ps of prevention, protection, and prosecution. In the last decade, we’ve seen 148 countries are now parties to that protocol, which is blindingly fast for most international conventions, and that almost 130 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting all forms of human trafficking.

Just a very quick definitional note: Human trafficking is an umbrella term that has become used over the last 10 years or so to describe all of the activities involved in holding someone in involuntary servitude, whether that slavery is for the purposes of sex; whether that purpose is for labor; whether the person is a man, woman, or child; whether they’ve been moved across the – around the world or across an international border; or whether they are enslaved in the town or village that their families have lived in for years. Trafficking in persons is, as Secretary Clinton says, plain and simply, modern slavery.

So this is one of the things that’s important when thinking about human trafficking and thinking about the report this year, is that this is not a report on alien smuggling. This is not a report on migration trends, although many of the victims of this crime around the world are, in fact, migrants. At the end of the day, this is a report that looks at how vulnerable people are being abused within different sectors of the economy by unscrupulous bosses who are holding them for profit. The estimates are up to 27 million people who are laboring in bondage around the world. And here in the United States, a good chunk of people as well, with estimates as high as a hundred thousand, once one factors in the children in prostitution.

That raises another definitional issue, which is that children in prostitution are considered to be trafficking victims because, much like statutory rape, a child is not presumed to be legally able to consent to commercial sexual activity. And so whereas for an adult you would have to show force, fraud, and coercion to say that the person is a trafficking victim, for a child, you would simply have to show that they were being used in commercial sex.

The report this year has a theme of a decade of delivery. Just as this last decade has been a decade of development – developing the tools, developing victim protections, developing structures around the world and developing our ability as the United States to report and analyze on this, including by putting ourselves in the report for the first time last year – now we turn to a decade of delivery. There’s been a lot of advances in the last few years, but we are concerned that the number of victims identified and the number of traffickers being prosecuted has flattened out around the world. And that trend needs to go back into an increase. Some of that could be because of the global economic crisis, because of security concerns where hardening attitudes to migrants and diminished resources are committed to assisting victims. But at the end of the day, those are things that can be overcome by political will.

The Trafficking in Persons Report this year looks at about 180 countries and is the most number of countries that we have seen in the report this year. A couple of years ago, Congress, in the 2008 reauthorization, took away the numeric limitations on how many trafficking victims needed to be in a country for them to be included in the report. And as such, over the last couple of years, we’ve seen many of the smaller nations have acceded into the report. And so we’ve seen, for instance, this year, the new countries and territories that are on the report are small, typically island countries, such as the Solomons, Tonga, Aruba, St. Lucia, et cetera.

But what we’ve seen is that even a little country like Tonga or a little territory like Aruba, as one of the Aruban prosecutors has said in public, if you put these structures into place, all of the things that you thought about there not being any trafficking victims in your country will go away, because with the structures, you’ll actually find the victims. And so we’ve seen successes in countries like Aruba and Tonga with their first prosecutions, their first successful convictions of trafficking. And I think that they show that it doesn’t – you don’t have to be a member of the G-8, you don’t have to be a large-risk Western country to be able to fight human trafficking. Even a country that’s smaller than Washington, D.C., with less people, if they’ve got the political will, they can catch these bad guys.

At the end of the day, this is a crime problem, but it’s a unique crime problem in that it is a human rights crime problem. The crime that needs to be punished is not simply a commodity crime or an economic crime. It is the crime of denying someone of their most basic of human rights, the right to freedom. And what we have seen around the world this year is an increasing ability of countries to do that as they professionalize their approach. But again, it takes political will, it takes not just one case or two cases, but it takes affirmatively going out and finding the victims and bringing the traffickers to justice.

So that’s, I think, just a very quick overview of kind of the concepts that are reflected in this year’s report. The call that the Secretary will make for a decade of delivery, I think, very much in keeping with the pillars of foreign policy in this Administration – for instance, the Asian foreign policy pillars, you’ll recall of the five one of them was the notion of results-based cooperation. We are not here to have relationships with countries simply to have relationships with them. We’re here to have bilateral relationships with countries so that we can try to achieve change, change for the better, and better outcomes for these trafficking victims. And so that notion of results-based cooperation that the Secretary has talked about in other settings is very much in evidence here.

So that, I think, is just kind of the overview. I’d be happy to take any particular questions that might jump out at you as you look at it. I do want to say one last thing, however, and that this report is unique in that it is actually dedicated to a person. That has not been the case in the past. And that person is Richard Holbrooke. The leadership that he showed on this issue, without necessarily getting the kind of press that he did for the many other things that he did in his career, is something that internally was very helpful to this issue. And in recognition of what he had done, we’re dedicating this particular episode of the TIP Report to his memory, and we just wanted to make sure that people knew that.

MS. FULTON: All right. Ambassador, thank you so much. Operator, let’s go ahead and start with the first question.

OPERATOR: And if you’d like to ask a question please press *1, un-mute your phone and record your name when prompted. To withdraw your request, you may press *2. One moment for the first response, please.

I’m showing no questions at this time, but once again to ask a question, please press *1.

There are no questions at this time.

MS. FULTON: If that’s the case, I do know that we provided access to the report on an embargoed basis, so it may be that folks are able to access that for subsequent information. And we’ll save the questions for Monday. So I’d like to thank everybody for their time, Ambassador, in particular for all of your efforts on behalf of this important issue. And again, just to reiterate, this is on the record, but the information and material is embargoed until Monday at 2 o’clock. Thank you everybody. I appreciate it.

OPERATOR: Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect at this time.

PRN: 2011/1069