Annual Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF)

The White House
Washington, DC
January 5, 2016

MS JARRETT: Thank you all for your commitment and leadership in the fight against trafficking both here and around the world, and thanks to all of you who are joining us online as well. I’m Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Ending human trafficking is one of President Obama’s top priorities. As he said three years ago to survivors, of human trafficking: “To the millions around the world, we see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity. And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams.” That’s why we’re here: to ensure that everyone can forge a life equal to their talents and worthy of their dreams.

My interagency colleagues, it’s an honor to join you here. Together, we represent a whole-of-government approach to ending the scourge of trafficking. And as we will hear a little later, this approach has been able to leverage concrete results across disciplines and sectors. Since 2012, the agencies of the President’s Interagency Task Force have brought together leaders of foreign governments, the private sector, faith communities, law enforcement, academics and advocates, and of course, survivors. And we’ve made significant progress in the areas of victim services, rule of law, procurement in supply chains, and public awareness and outreach.

Today, before we take stock of what we’ve accomplished so far and the work that lies ahead, I have the distinct honor of introducing the first-ever United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. This council is unique because it is comprised exclusively of survivors. And it presents a special opportunity because, for the first time, the federal government now has a formal means of seeking input and recommendations from survivors on federal anti-trafficking policies. So I’m pleased that all 11 appointees that President Obama announced last month are here with us today, and I would ask you to stand and be recognized. (Applause)

Welcome to the White House. We thank you in advance for the time that you are going to give advising the U.S. Government on this very important issue. We’re going to hear from Ima Matul Maisaroh of the Advisory Council shortly and very much look forward to all of the suggestions that you all have. This partnership will be critical as we work together to find solutions.

Finally, I hope that each of you here today have considered what additional commitments that you can make from your agencies over the next year. It’s essential that we finish this Administration strong. Each of us must ensure that our best work and most successful strategies are institutionalized, improved upon, and continued well beyond our service. Let’s each see to it that human trafficking draws the attention and the resources that we know it deserves. Unfortunately, a few of us are going to have to step out at various times during this meeting because of the President’s important announcement this morning on gun violence, but we are excited to be here with you today on this important issue. And now, I’m happy to turn it over to Secretary Kerry.

SECRETARY KERRY: Valerie, thank you very much. Happy New Year to everybody. Welcome back to this meeting. Actually, this is a meeting that allows us to step back into 2015, because we were supposed to have the meeting in 2015, and now we’re going to have two meetings in 2016, so just pretend this is 2015 and you’re very happy about it. (Laughter)

I’m delighted to be here with Susan Coppedge, our ambassador-at-large. And Valerie, thank you for your leadership and the President’s leadership on this. Just this morning at our major staff meeting, I told our folks that we are going to continue to even become a little more diligent. We were good last year, but we weren’t perfect, and we want to be 100 percent in making sure we are raising this bilaterally in every meeting that we have. I said we’d do that, and we’re still intent on making sure that happens.

But the other thing we’re going to do is, over the course of the next few days, I will be telephoning the foreign ministers at every one of the marginal countries that have a chance over the next three months, before the reporting ends, to be able to meet the necessary requirements so they’re not – they’re not listed downwards. They’re not downgraded with respect to their tier. And it’ll be up to them. But we want to make sure we’ve made the ultimate effort to put them on notice well ahead of time. Generally speaking, when we put people on notice, we find that they try to take steps to avoid the de-listing, so we’ll see if we can leverage that over the course of the next few days.

Obviously, preventing human trafficking, unlike some of the issues we wrestle with which are defined by nuance or by some complexity, this is not. This is not complex and there’s no nuance. This is absolutely an issue of extreme moral clarity. And it is about also our collective security, and the interaction between this multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise, which is what it is, not only is a corrupting factor in the capacity of countries to live up to the standards that we want them to and to meet many needs across the board.

Whether it’s immigration or simply criminal activity or radicalization, there are many different impacts of human trafficking. But most broadly, it is a factor in destabilizing whole governments, it feeds the corruption that is stealing the future of many nations, and it fuels all of the illicit criminal networks that play out in many different ways – not just in human trafficking, but in terms of the narcotics trafficking, gun smuggling, and terror support particularly. So it actually exacerbates. As we learned in the brilliant New York Times story about the young Cambodian boy who was enslaved at sea, it also fuels the workforce for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – thank you. And so whether it’s mining activities or deforestation activities as a role in climate change, it is profoundly pervasive in its impact.

And that is why the President has made the decision years ago to strengthen federal efforts to combat it. And it’s why our department and every department around this table – and it is unusual, and I want to underscore for anybody externally who’s watching this that we have everybody around this table – the FBI, the National Intelligence, the Homeland Security, and you run the list. This is an all-government effort, and people need to note that.

So whether it is shining a light on our own procurement practices or working to ensure that forced labor is not providing the labor for illicit activities, that is why we are working across the board with faith leaders, with the private sector, with government agencies in order to try to up our capacity to be able to enforce the laws and to, obviously, diminish the impact of this scourge.

Now, survivors know better than anybody how we might better prevent people from being imprisoned in this cycle, and they know the steps that we need to take to prevent the next person from becoming a survivor. They know what we need to do to shield the at-risk populations. So whether it is that young boy or some other young person in a Cambodian field who’s enticed to go to a country and get a construction job and make his life better and suddenly finds himself with a neck bracelet, chained in a boat, unable to escape, or whether it is a young girl somewhere who is lured into the sex industry, there’s so much governments can do to prevent this from happening. And we are happily – not happily, it’s the wrong word – we are appropriately exercising the leadership necessary to try to make a difference.

So I’m convinced that through our cooperation and our teamwork we’ve made some significant gains, and we can be proud of them. But everybody around this table knows we have a long way to go. It is estimated still that there are more than 20 million people who are enslaved, but regrettably, only a fraction of them, perhaps 1 percent, are identified on an annual basis. So we are living in 2015, in modern times, with a form of slavery that is even hard to identify. But so much could be done to prosecute it.

So over the next hour – and we want to try to contain it within that time period – we’re going to look at what we’ve promised to do, we’re going to examine what we’ve delivered on, and we’re going to be honest about what we have yet to complete. And the more we ask questions, the more that we demand something of ourselves, the better opportunity, obviously, we have to try to meet the standard that we’ve set for ourselves. I believe this is a fight that we can win, but most importantly, this is a fight we have to win. You can’t have 20 million people in modern times literally enslaved. And waiting for the moment when a government, a responsible entity might step up and help protect them as we should.

So I’m proud of the work we’re doing here. I think the President can take great pride in this. And hopefully, in this last year of the Administration, we can make a quantum leap in what we can say to the world we were able to accomplish and show people how we can make that difference in a few years. We can, in fact, ultimately win a victory over this challenge.

So let me – I’ll turn things over to Ambassador Coppedge, who’s going to give us an update on the Senior Policy Operating Group.

AMBASSADOR COPPEDGE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It’s my privilege to be here today to report on the achievements of the Senior Policy Operating Group. Through the collaboration and hard work of the federal agencies represented around this table, we are able to help support the mission of this task force year-round. The United States fight against human trafficking is strengthened by every agency’s coordinated efforts. Today I’ll highlight three brief examples of how federal agencies coordinate policy efforts through the five Senior Policy Operating Group committees.

First, the victim services committee continued its work this past year to implement the historic Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking by publicly releasing the first status report on July 7th. The status report ensures transparency and accountability in the implementation of the plan.

Second, the procurement and supply chains committee co-chairs initiated the process to define “recruitment” fees in federal regulations to clarify the prohibition on those fees on charging them to workers. This is a common practice known to facilitate labor trafficking.

And lastly, for an example, the public awareness and outreach committee implemented a successful social media campaign during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month last January and looks forward to renewing that effort this month. We are pleased about the opportunity to work with the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Today all of us here stand ready to learn from the council and continue to empower survivors. As we look ahead to the next year, we will strive to enhance the impact of our coordinated federal efforts in the shared fight against modern slavery. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, Susan, and thanks for the great job you’re doing. And it’s my privilege now to – Valerie appropriately introduced the Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which, as everybody heard, is made up entirely of survivors. I now would like to introduce Ima Matul Maisaroh to speak on behalf of the council. And if you could go to the podium, we’d appreciate it. But thank you all; we’re very grateful to you for the contributions you will make. Thank you.

MS MAISAROH: Good morning, everyone. I’m Ima Matul Maisaroh. Although many of you know me as the survivor coordinator at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, I’m here as a mother, a leader, and survivor. It is an incredible honor being here with all of you on this historic day. On behalf of my fellow survivors, we would like to thank President Barack Obama for selecting us to become the first United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. It is hard to put words how honored we all feel and promise to serve on this council with unified purpose and shared vision. We look forward to collaborating with all of you and bringing the issue of human trafficking to the forefront of the federal policy. Imagine what we can do together to make our generation of survivors the last.

One key reason this council is important, because it acknowledges the value that survivor add to any initiative on human trafficking. As a collective group of survivors, we have dedicated a huge part of ourselves to the anti-trafficking movement, to respective advocacy efforts. Together, we are changing perception, fighting for justice, and ultimately, over the years, we are contributing to one shared goal: to end modern slavery everywhere it exists. We are a diverse group. Our individual experience as survivor will add a rich expertise to the council. And we will act proudly as unified group of leaders who will speak up for what we needed to address to many issue that contribute to the longstanding existence of human trafficking in the United States and around the world.

Despite our differences, we are united as survivor by one vision, one shared leadership. And the partnership we bring to the table will have a multiplying effect within the entire anti-trafficking community, and build upon their successful effort. We strive to implement long-term, sustainable change and policy that will directly impact legislation and action to end human trafficking, and provide better services for all survivor of trafficking.

We need you in this pursuit. We look forward to effectively collaborating with everyone in our fights against human trafficking in the years to come. Thank you. (Applause)

SECRETARY KERRY: Ima, thank you very much, not just for those comments but for your courage. For all of you for being part of this effort, we’re deeply appreciative.

Obviously, to be able to hold people accountable, you have to be able to bring people to justice. To bring people to justice, you need police efforts, you need prosecutors, you need laws on the books. So a critical component of this is the combined efforts of the Department of Justice, the FBI, ODNI, and USUN, and each will brief us now, starting off with our good attorney general.

ATTORNEY GENERAL LYNCH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thanks to all of you for coming here today. I’m happy to be here as we sit here in National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, as well as 150 years after our own country ratified the 13th Amendment which ended slavery on these shores. And of course, we still struggle with the ramifications of that particular blight on our own history and the badges and incidents thereof. But I think it’s given us a particular awareness of this pernicious crime as it affects those still here in the U.S. and overseas.

Our efforts to combat this crime, which is complex, which is deep-seated, often invisible, have to involve collaboration and innovation across many organizations and disciplines. Our goal is to support survivors and to bring traffickers to justice. This victim-centered approach is the hallmark of our approach to dealing with this crime.

Now, to that end, the Department of Justice has long been focused on building a wide range of partnerships: internationally; between our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners as well as our tribal law enforcement partners; and also between law enforcement victims service organizations; and most importantly, survivors themselves, who are a key resource in finding new survivors and helping us structure our platform.

At the international level, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security continue to collaborate with our Mexican law enforcement counterparts through the U.S.-Mexico Human Trafficking Bilateral Enforcement Initiative. This initiative is designed to enhance investigations and prosecutions of trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border. And since 2009, these bilateral efforts have led to U.S. federal prosecutions of over 170 defendants, prosecutions in Mexico of over 40 traffickers associated with these networks, and the extradition of eight defendants from Mexico to the U.S. Most importantly, these efforts have led to the rescue of over 200 victims and, even finally more importantly, the recovery of over 20 victims’ children from the trafficking networkers’ control. In November, I announced the takedown of the Rendon-Reyes trafficking organization, which was a direct result of this initiative. Eight defendants were charged, a 27-count indictment for racketeering, conspiracy, sex trafficking, and related crimes for operating a sex trafficking enterprise in Mexico and multiple U.S. states for over 10 years.

Now, on the domestic front, the Department of Justice has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor through the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team, or the ACTeam Initiative. This team develops high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. In Phase I of the ACTeam Initiative, the ACTeam districts showed a 119 percent increase in cases filed and a 114 percent increase in defendants charged. This is the result of that focused, multiagency approach. Last month, we announced the Phase II ACTeam sites, which were designated through a rigorous, competitive, nationwide selection process. And we believe and we will work hard to ensure that our Phase II efforts in Sacramento, California; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Newark, New Jersey; Cleveland, Ohio; and Portland, Oregon will be just as successful.

Now, also, overall the Department of Justice has continued to bring record numbers of human trafficking prosecutions. We charged 335 defendants in 208 cases in 2014, and we convicted 184 defendants that same year. In cases involving forced labor; sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, or coercion; as well as international sex trafficking, we have charged 62 percent more cases and convicted 70 percent more defendants over the past five years compared to the previous five years.

Now, of course, these efforts are a success, but they reflect, frankly, the widespread, pernicious nature of this crime. But we also support enhanced collaboration and partnership through the department’s grant funding. In September of 2015, we announced $44 million in grant funding to combat human trafficking. Almost $23 million of this money went to support what’s called the Enhanced Collaborative Model, or the ECM, anti-trafficking task forces across the United States. These task forces are comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement. They’re also comprised of labor officials, victim service providers, and they’re selected for funding based upon joint applications submitted both by law enforcement and the victim service providers outlining specifically how they will collaborate.

And in Fiscal Year 2015, the ECM law enforcement grantees conducted over 1,000 trafficking investigations resulting in over 250 arrests and the identification of 425 victims. And this year’s funding will support 16 such task forces across this country, because we believe that this collaborative victim-centered process has been not only effective, but is the best way to deal with this crime.

Lastly, the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims and Crime will be hosting a day-long forum on January 19th. This forum will be with survivors of human trafficking and is designed to enhance our collaboration with survivors and the survivor advocacy groups, and to better incorporate their perspectives into federal anti-trafficking work.

Now, as we all know, combating this crime, our goal of preventing this crime and helping survivors rebuild their lives, is not easy. It will continue long after we stand up from this desk and move on. But it is some of the most critically important work that we do. It defines us not just as a country, but as people in terms of how we view every individual’s right to liberty on this planet. And we are so much stronger when our efforts complement each other and build on our respective areas of expertise. And the Department of Justice is tremendously proud to work with everyone around this table as well as the survivor advocacy groups that we’ve worked with over the years in this important, important effort.

So thank you very much for your time today.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Attorney General. This can’t be done without your efforts and leadership, and we’re very grateful to you for those initiatives. Obviously, a key part of that is the efforts of the FBI, and particularly Attorney James Comey for his report on the Child Exploitation Task Force’s work.

MR COMEY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I think the Attorney General said it extraordinarily well. The FBI doesn’t do work that is more important than fighting human trafficking, especially protecting children who are enslaved through the commercial exploitation of children. As she said, our work focuses on victims first – find the people who’ve been enslaved, rescue them, get them help, and then work backwards to the slavers. And we try to send a powerful message of deterrence by locking some of the people up for life in many cases so that behavior changes.

As she also said, partnerships are at the core of what we do. I just want to spend a minute and emphasize one particular partnership that’s reflected through the 71 child exploitation task forces that we run around the country. We have 400 different agency partners in those task forces, and it’s through that work that we do things like Operation Cross Country, which we just did our ninth annual operation to try to rescue children who are part of the commercial sexual exploitation racket that we have in this country. We did it this past year in 135 cities and rescued about 150 children and locked up a whole lot of slavers as a result of that. Overall, those task forces have rescued thousands of children in the last decade and jailed almost 2,000 slavers through that effort. As I said, punishment is a very important part of this. We were very gratified to see three life sentences handed down last year to send that kind of message that you will forfeit your life if you treat America’s children in this way.

The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people, and that includes our children. And when kids are treated as commodities at a roadside or at a seedy hotel, there is no greater harm to this country. It’s the reason people join the FBI. And so we are proud to do this work. We’re gratified for the help we get around this table, and we will stay after it. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Jim. No question that the message sent through your enforcement efforts and the price people pay is critical. We very much appreciate it.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is going to report to us on the pilot projects with law enforcement and the training of embassy personnel, I believe, with respect to reporting on trafficking.

MR CLAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The first thing to start with, perhaps an obvious point, but I think it needs to be made with trafficking in persons --

SECRETARY KERRY: Do you have a mike, Jim, or not? Can you slide that over there?

MR CLAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I’ll just start with perhaps an obvious point to everyone in this room, and I think it’s a point that needs to be made, and that is that trafficking in persons is a national security issue which contributes to international instability with links to terrorism, corruption, and crime. Since trafficking was officially raised as a national intelligence collection priority in 2012, the intelligence community has increased reporting on human trafficking tenfold.

For the past year, we embarked on a number of efforts to increase collaboration between the intelligence community and the law enforcement, from which we expect additional upticks in intelligence reporting. For example, the IC participated in two pilot projects with law enforcement agencies to identify gaps in our knowledge base and ultimately to support strategies designed to disrupt trafficking networks. One project involved working with embassies overseas to train personnel on trafficking recruitment methods and to identify potential victims of human trafficking. This project focused on education of our collectors and analysts, and on expanding reporting on recruitment methods.

The second project focused on exploiting existing law enforcement databases while at the same time coordinating with law enforcement entities to fill our knowledge gaps, in particular information in law enforcement channels that may help our efforts at gathering information and disrupting networks if we can figure out a way to share the relevant data appropriately and effectively.

We continue to build on increasing the knowledge of our collectors and analysts on trafficking in persons patterns and perpetrators, and sharing this information through briefings and publications. As part of this effort, the IC supported a number of meetings, including cosponsoring a symposium with the State Department that brought in outside experts to address the challenges posed by the global operation of human trafficking networks. The two primary themes were the nature of criminal networks that perpetuate human trafficking and the key drivers that shape the business environment in which traffickers operate. Information gleaned from this symposium has informed our thinking on how to address the disruption of networks from an intelligence community at large perspective.

We’re taking two steps to increase IC efforts further. I will issue guidance to the community to focus reporting on this problem even as we struggle to balance competing national security priorities. And second, the National Intelligence Council, which falls under me, this summer will release the first ever national intelligence estimate on trafficking in persons.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Jim. We much appreciate it. Next we have the deputy to the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Maher Bitar, who will report on the UN efforts to engage on this.

MR BITAR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. As you emphasized, human trafficking – trafficking in persons is a human rights violation, criminal act, a threat to development, both a cause and a symptom of instability, as well as a threat to international security. At the United States Mission to the United Nations, we are working to elevate the focus on combating human trafficking at the United Nations through numerous approaches. We have a unique global platform and normative agendas which we are seeking to advance every day at the United Nations. Last month, with the United States as president of the UN Security Council, Ambassador Samantha Power convened an unprecedented Security Council debate on trafficking in persons in conflict. This was the first time in its 70-year history that the Security Council held a session focused on human trafficking.

The session featured the riveting and brave testimony of Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 21-year-old woman of the Yezidi faith who survived trafficking by Daesh, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Her presence enabled us to press the UN to do more to address trafficking, including strengthening its own procurement practices and providing support to trafficking victims.

We are also integrating counter-trafficking into other areas. Thanks to U.S. leadership, we ensure that the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development included an agreement to, quote, “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including the recruitment of child soldiers.” In 2016 we will work with member-states, the private sector, and civil society to drive implementation of this target.

At the same time, as we focus on addressing the refugee crises around the world, we will continue to partner with UN agencies to make sure that the most vulnerable to trafficking receive the focus and support they need. And we will work with other U.S. and UN agencies to elevate the focus on human trafficking at the World Humanitarian Summit in May.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. We’re going to shift now to the question of victim services. And I just say by way of introduction very quickly, when I was a prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, we were right at the – it was in the late ’70s, early ’80s. We were beginning to learn about how to manage victims and victims’ rights within the system. And we had a saying, you didn’t want to twice victimized – once by the crime, and then by the system. And believe me, people were multiply victimized by the system.

So we really know that to succeed at this, we have to be victim-centric in our thinking and in our planning, which is what we are now increasingly. The Administration is providing some 28 million for victim services in the United States, and we’re learning more about how to improve the delivery of those services and to empower survivors and reach victims more effectively.

In the Department of State, we are continuing our work to protect domestic workers employed by foreign personnel in foreign missions. And we announced that we would set up – two years ago we said we’d set up an in-person registration program for domestic workers. And today we’re using this program to help prevent exploitation and domestic servitude by informing domestic workers of their rights. And we plan to expand this now to include domestic workers employed by foreign personnel at a foreign consulate, as well as at other international organizations.

So I would invite senior counselor to the Secretary, Andrea Palm, with the Department of Health and Human Services, to discuss anti-trafficking and victim assistance. Thank you.

MS PALM: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. A pleasure to be here today. Also on behalf of HHS, I want to recognize the Advisory Council. Thank you so much for your leadership and courage. Your counsel will be critical moving forward, so thank you so much.

A couple of updates from us in three areas. First, related to coordination and collaboration. In June, HHS established the Office on Trafficking in Persons within our Administration for Children and Families to coordinate our anti-trafficking victim assistance and awareness efforts across our refugee resettlement, child welfare, runaway and homeless youth, and domestic violence programs. And today we’re announcing the establishment of an HHS-wide task force to prevent and end human trafficking. Our goal is to institutionalize our capacity and leverage our work across the department so that we’re making sure we’re hooking up all of our Health and Human Services programs. The task force will bring together at least 10 divisions across HHS to strengthen our work, our data collection, inform our policymaking.

In addition, we’ll continue to focus and build on our public-private partnerships with folks around this room, as well as philanthropy and academia, to increase innovation in the anti-trafficking field. For example, this year we will co-announce the finalists in our second challenge competition under the Partnership for Freedom to address trafficking in supply chains. And finally, we will, as mentioned by others, continue to co-chair with DOJ and DHS the implementation of the five-year strategic plan.

Second, our work related to practical implementation tools that we provide to the anti-trafficking field to do this work – our funding since FY12 has doubled, and we provided more than 17 million to support community-based programs in Fiscal Year ’15. We piloted and evaluated a targeted training program for health care providers on human trafficking, and through that pilot trained 180 health care providers in six cities across five states. This year we’ll bring that program to scale online to provide providers all across the country with access to this training to help us identify victims of trafficking and connect them with critical services in their communities. In addition, we’re testing and evaluating a new trafficking screening tool to be used in child welfare and runaway and homeless youth programs, and the results of that pilot testing and our next steps will be available later this year.

And finally, our network of grantees conducted more than 40 trainings and 100 consultations, reaching over 9,000 service providers and advocates in the field this past year.

Finally, just a minute about our work to understand and address the public health impact of human trafficking. Last month we started a series of regional forums in Miami to understand this issue. We brought together survivors, experts, community leaders, with the goal of informing the development of an HHS public awareness campaign on human trafficking, which we will launch in early 2017. So that work is underway.

In addition, we have a thing at HHS we call the Idea Lab, which funds internal innovative projects, and they funded this past summer a project to identify innovations in data collection in human trafficking. And we’ll use that project this year to establish data standards on human trafficking and a platform that we’ll test through some federal (inaudible) to see if we can do a better job around data collection in human trafficking. And I would just say overall, since the President’s call in 2012, we’ve been really very committed to this effort and have made significant progress and are looking forward to making continued progress in the year ahead.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Andrea. I’ve just been handed a note saying we have about 13 speakers left and 20 minutes, so – (laughter) – I’ll tell you, I’m used to a lot of problems as Secretary of State, but – (laughter) – I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that.

SECRETARY JOHNSON Your Senate training will greatly help you with this. (Laughter)

PARTICIPANT: Right, yeah. (Laughter)


SECRETARY KERRY: So without dragging things on, let me quickly recognize Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu of the Department of Labor.

DEPUTY SECRETARY LU: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. With your admonition, I will just go quickly. People think about the Department of Labor based on our domestic priorities. I’d like to highlight some of the work that we are doing internationally on this issue. We have worked over the last couple of years with the International Labor Organization on a new protocol and supporting recommendation for ILO Convention 29, which deals with forced labor.

To help implement this new protocol and supporting recommendation, I was in Geneva in last June to announce $12 million of funding that we’ll be providing to the ILO to combat forced labor. We call it the Bridge Project because it takes the protocol and puts it into practice. It will help raise awareness globally about forced labor. It’ll invest in data collection, it’ll strengthen supply chain monitoring, and it’ll implement measures to protect victims and provide them with access to remediation. We are focusing initially on three priority countries: Mauritania, Nepal, and Peru.

And lastly on this point, I would say that since we know the important role that businesses play in this through responsible supply chains, we’ll be convening a summit pursuant to the Bridge Project later on this year. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Christopher, very much. We’re going to turn now to procurement channels, which we’ve learned is really one of the most – this is one of the places where one of the – some of the worst abuses take place. We’re going to unveil next month a new resource called, which will strengthen protection against forced labor in the federal and global labor supply chains. But we need a whole-of-government approach, and so I’m going to ask Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines to share an update on our collective efforts.

MS HAINES: I’ve got a bit of a cold so it’ll make me faster even than usual. But the – basically, I – the President specifically called on departments and agencies in January to do everything they can to make sure that we’re basically – that our supply chains are responsibly sourced. And as the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, we obviously have a special responsibility to ensure that American taxpayer dollars don’t go to such an affront to human dignity, frankly.

And so we in particular set up a forum in January where we had basically the private sector, NGOs, federal government – Tina kicked it off, I believe. And Amy did so much work to this as well, but essentially having an opportunity to share best practices for how it is that we address this problem in a variety of different ways and to really prevent and illuminate any instances of trafficking-related activities in federal contracts and in also private-sector supply chains. So representatives from the private sector, including electronics, textile, retail industries shared the successful strategies that they’ve engaged in.

And frankly, many of these, we think, are transformational (inaudible) to uplift in a variety of different ways. We issued a Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council rule that effectively requires a compliance plan as part of the process, and we’re asking – continuing the dialogue with the private sector and NGOs and others to try to make sure that we have the best practices that we can bring to bear for those compliance plans and putting those together. And at that same forum, in fact, Secretary Kerry presented the 2015 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

And CIW has actually pioneered a worker-based social responsibility model called the Fair Food Program to include workers in addressing exploitation and abuse to eradicate modern slavery in Florida’s tomato fields. And it’s a really incredible program, highly successful; leverages the market power of major corporate buyers coupled with strong consumer awareness, worker training, and robust enforcement mechanisms to increase wages, end labor trafficking, and promote worker rights. It’s just all part of the program. We’re very honored to be here, and apologies for being late and also for leaving early. It’s part of the process, but we’re very, very excited to work with you. We appreciate the work that everyone’s done.

SECRETARY KERRY: Avril, thank you. We understand that you need to get back over to the White House, but thank you very much for your contribution to this, the work you’re doing.

We now will hear from USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, and we’re glad to have you here.

MS SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I have the same cold that Avril does, so I will also be quick so I don’t start coughing. In terms of trafficking, one of the things we know is obviously we need projects and programs that address individuals but also systems fixes. And in looking at supply chains, one of the problems we have is the absence of data. If you look at the fact that there are 21 million people in trafficking situations today, law enforcement has only been able to identify and document 50,000 cases. A lot of this is because things are under the radar; it’s in an unregulated field.

So what USAID did was last year or earlier this year, to honor the Secretary’s request at the top of the meeting, issued a call for innovative concepts and ideas on how to aggregate, mine, and generate data that can be used for systems fixes. A lot is still coming in, but there are two programs that have already gotten started.

One is in India with GoodWeave International to transform its monitoring and certification methodology into something that is scalable, transferable, and that can be used to map, analyze, and provide real-time visibility into unregulated supply chains. Both the Target Corporation and the Skoll Foundation are working with us on this. Target has committed to retail GoodWeave’s certified carpets – and again, the key thing is they’re certified – and has expressed an interest in using this model for other goods. So the idea here is to look at whether we can test-market something and then replicate it.

The other place where data is really critical is the data and information that real and potential victims need both to protect their rights and be aware of the risks. So on that one we’re working with the Issara Institute in Thailand to identify individuals at risk, but also build social media platforms so that people can share information, information can be provided so that people know what rights they have – traffickers often abuse people’s lack of knowledge about their rights to exploit them – and also what the risks are, so they know where there are vulnerabilities. The idea is if this could be replicated, that would be great.

Just two things in terms of follow-up. I think from – first one, if you look at a corporation like Target getting involved, I think there’s a question of how we use our convening power to bring together some really big corporations. It’s got to be good branding, one would think, to have this level of certification or other means to say that we stand against trafficking. And the second is – consistent, Andrea, with what you said about HHS’s work on data, seeing how we can bring together some of the things we’re doing internationally with some of the things we’re doing domestically, because these can apply in both places.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Gayle, and it’s good to have you there finally.

MS SMITH: I’m delighted to be here. (Laughter)

SECRETARY KERRY: Under Secretary Frank Kendall with the Department of Defense.

UNDER SECRETARY KENDALL: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. The department is totally committed to combating trafficking, and the place in which we encounter it most frequently is through overseas contracting. It’s often labor-related contracting, but many cases involve prostitution as well.

The department has learned over the last more than a decade how to deal with contractors in deployed situations. We have deployed as many contractors as we have U.S. troops in the major contingencies that we’ve been doing. As we have drawn down those deployments, we’ve been very concerned about retaining the skillsets that we developed to manage contractors overseas, including contract – combating trafficking.

So in order to preserve that skillset, one of the main things we’re doing is annual exercises, which are large-scale exercises focused on overseas contracting support. These exercises last about two weeks. They involve more than a thousand people, and each of them that we’ve conducted for the last two or three years we have inserted a number scenarios involving trafficking in persons. We exercise the skillsets associated with writing proper contracts, ensuring those contracts are enforced, and in responding correctly when violations are reported to us. We’ve learned from this, and we welcome other members of the government who would be appropriate to participate in these as necessary, as they see fit.

I just want to conclude briefly with the fact that this is not a hypothetical problem for us. Last year, we had 52 reported cases of trafficking, and I’m sure there were more than that. A number of those have gone to prosecution, a number more of them dealt with administratively through contract actions, and a number are still under investigation. But we are totally committed to combating this scourge, Mr. Secretary. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. And obviously, DOD can play a key role and does, and we appreciate it very much. Next, Anne Rung from the – from OMB for review of our procurement efforts.

MS RUNG: Thank you. My office, in partnership with the Department of Labor and the Department of State, have been working on a number of efforts to create a stronger framework to eliminate trafficking from government contracts. These efforts have centered around the implementation of the President’s executive order on anti-trafficking and related statutory requirements imposed by Congress which strengthen victim protections in a number of ways. These include an express prohibition on contractors and recruiting companies from charging workers recruitment fees and a requirement for contractors with large overseas contracts to develop compliance plans and mechanisms to monitor and detect trafficking.

Agencies are now incorporating these strengthened requirements into contracts as required by regulations that became effective earlier this year. In addition, with DHS’s leadership, a comprehensive training course has been developed to improve workforce understanding as they implement the new rules.

While these are important steps forward, we must recognize that many contractors have complex supply chains and may need time to adopt sustainable practices. We will soon release a package of practical tools, including a model compliance plan and various assessments that contractors can use in establishing or improving their existing anti-trafficking program and practices. Deputy Secretary Lew and I have also had a number of conversations with industry and supply chain experts over the past several months to understand the learning curve that companies face coming into compliance and the best ways to manage progress while making real and meaningful inroads.

Using this and other feedback, we will issue management guidance to help the workforce evaluate if a contractor is taking reasonable steps to put measures in place to detect, address, and prevent trafficking. We will also issue additional regulations to clarify the coverage, addressing the prohibition on recruitment fees. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Anne. And now the good Ambassador Froman sitting right there beside you.

AMBASSADOR FROMAN: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. And it’s good to be here and I’m pleased that the Office of the USTR is going to be joining this task force. It’s clear from this discussion we need to use every tool at our disposal to deal with this scourge, and we believe trade agreements can be one of those tools that we use. The recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership between the U.S. and 11 other countries is a good example.

Specifically, TPP includes binding and enforceable obligations to afford workers basic ILO rights, including the right to be free from forced labor. But for the first time, TPP also requires countries to take actions to discourage the trade in products made by forced labor anywhere in the world, whether it’s in a TPP country or anywhere else in the world.

And these are core obligations of TPP, meaning that they’re binding, they’re enforceable, including through dispute settlement and the application of trade sanctions. Importantly, TPP also includes enforceable country-specific consistency plans of how countries in detail will implement their labor obligations. And just to give one example of Malaysia, Malaysia will be obligated to implement its new anti-trafficking law, allowing victims of forced labor to travel, work, and live outside government facilities while under protection orders. They’ll be required to enforce laws making it illegal for employers to hold migrant workers’ passports, to limit recruitment fees that recruiting agencies charge, and ensure that large-scale and repeat offenders are denied quota for bringing in foreign workers. They will allow foreign workers to hold union office. They’ll provide victim assistance to those found to be in forced or bonded labor. And it requires them to provide access for NGOs to the victims of human trafficking.

And fulfilling these obligations will be key to Malaysia getting and keeping the considerable benefits of TPP for their economy. So we’re now working with Malaysia on translating these obligations into reality on the ground. That’s a whole-of-government effort. We look forward to working with all of you and with civil society and business to do so, and by doing that we fulfill what the President said about doing trade right, which means having a trade policy that’s consistent with both our interests and our values, and we believe that trade agreements can be an important tool in dealing with this important issue as well.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: Indeed it is. And Michael, thank you very much for including it and for being so thoughtful in how to approach this.

We now come to the last sector that we’re going to do before I introduce Tina Tchen to say a few words and close us out. We have six agencies that are represented in this last area, which is about public awareness and outreach. And obviously, no one agency is going to win this fight; even as a government we’re not going to win it alone; we’ve got to reach out to countries around the world.

I want to thank every person around every agency around the table that has contributed to the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet. That has generated a tremendous amount of input, phone calls, tips, prosecutions, and has been very, very helpful in aiding us to uncover new cases. So it’s working. And we will be publishing an updated version of that this year that incorporates interagency, survivor, and civil society input and ideas. So we’re grateful to everybody for that.

So let me turn first to our Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and I think he’s going to talk about the Victim Assistance Program and the Blue Campaign, if I’m correct.

SECRETARY JOHNSON: Thank you, Secretary Kerry, and colleagues in the Administration. And a special welcome to the members of the Advisory Council. Thank you for your leadership and your courage. I will be brief.

Within the Department of Homeland Security, we have something called the Blue Campaign, which is our unified voice in dealing with human trafficking. It’s been around for five years. In the course of that five years, the Blue Campaign has helped raise public consciousness on the issue of human trafficking across our country through a nationwide public awareness campaign, as Secretary Kerry alluded to, through human trafficking training for federal, state, local law enforcement and through public and private sector partnerships, as well as the traditional law enforcement effort.

In five years, we’ve increased our investigations and with the Department of Justice our prosecutions for human trafficking. Over the last five years, the number of criminal arrest with a nexus to human trafficking by one of our law enforcement arms, Homeland Security Investigations, has increased over 400 percent. In Fiscal Year 2015, our victim assistance program provided support to 384 victims of human trafficking. The Blue Campaign’s public service announcement, “Out of the Shadows,” has aired more than 60,000 times across the nation on TV and on radio. The Blue Campaign has now entered into formal partnerships with a number of states around the country. We’ve provided training in terms of – to our personnel within the department and elsewhere.

The bottom line of all this effort is we agree that in addition to law enforcement prosecutions, public awareness and victim assistance is vital in the overall mission. And we also are convinced that the more we empower communities with information about what human trafficking is, how to recognize indicators of human trafficking and what to do if you witness potential trafficking, the more we will continue to see an increase in the number of traffickers brought to justice and the number of victims who receive assistance.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: Jeh, thank you for your very important input on this. We’re also seeing the Department of Interior break new ground with respect to its efforts, and it’s my pleasure to recognize Secretary Sally Jewell.

SECRETARY JEWELL: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And thank you to all of the survivors that are serving on this task force. It’s a very courageous and an important perspective that we wouldn’t otherwise have, so thank you very much.

We think of this perhaps more as an international issue, but it’s very much a domestic issue. There are perpetrators all over the planet that will do heinous acts, and there are vulnerable individuals all over the planet, including right here in the United States. Some of our most vulnerable citizens are our first citizens, and those are Native Americans, especially in regions where there is a lot of economic activity. The Bakken oil and gas boom in the Dakotas has created huge problems on Indian reservations there. Casinos have become in some cases a platform for non-Indian perpetrators of these crimes to victimize our nation’s first people. And it’s a significant issue.

We are the benefit of the Blue Campaign – thank you very much, Secretary Johnson, for the work you do there. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center has been training Bureau of Indian Education law enforcement officers. We’ve trained all of our federal land management law enforcement officers to be aware of human trafficking, including identification, investigations, interventions, and so on.

Our world is a bit complicated because of the way law works on reservations as opposed to off reservations. And so we’ve also been coordinating very closely with certain states – the state of Oklahoma; on the casino-area states, the state of South Dakota; and North Dakota as it relates to the Bakken activity and oil and gas and the man camps that are there that are driving a lot of this behavior. We have learned from all of you and set up a Native American human trafficking task force which had the first meetings last year. I want to thank all of you, and particularly Secretary Kerry, for putting this on everyone’s radar and making sure that we all recognize that it’s not just an international issue; it’s very much a domestic issue. And we are charged with upholding trust and treaty obligations to our nation’s first people. And in many cases, they are victimized more than others.

So I just ask all of you to not forget the Indians, and particularly a call out to Secretary Johnson for the work of Homeland Security in doing just that. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Secretary Jewell. Thank you for the – for pulling off the first-ever task force meeting last August. That’s making history here, and it’s important.

Let me turn now if I can to Deputy Secretary Harden of Agriculture, who’s going to report on both work with Blue Campaign and raising awareness on trafficking in poverty areas.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HARDEN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I think everyone probably knows that USDA has an office in just about every county across the country, and offices around the world. So we have worked with DHS to make sure that our employees are fully trained. They’re not only working in those offices, they are leaders in their communities. They’re communicating; they know what’s happening many times locally. So making sure that they are the eyes and ears of what’s happening and that they know what to do when they recognize the problems. So we appreciate DHS’s help with that. And we’ve made our training available to the 100,000 employees that we have both here and around the world, and I think that will continue.

And looking ahead, we’re going to enhance our training of our 750 enforcement officers and personnel that we have in the country with DHS. We’re working with HHS with outreach in rural America really focusing on the counties within the areas with the highest percentage of poverty. A lot of people think about poverty being in urban areas, and truly the most persistent poverty counties are in rural areas. Some of them are in Indian country, so we’re going to be focusing with HHS there and continue to work with over 100 of our stakeholder groups, NGOs, the farm – landowners, farmers, and ranchers to make sure they’re well trained and having the right materials, and again, knowing what to do when they recognize these problems.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Krysta, very much. Thank you very much. I recognize now acting Assistant Secretary Ann Whalen, the Department of Education, reporting on the guide of Human Trafficking in America’s Schools.

MS WHALEN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thank you, members of the Advisory Council. I really appreciate your contribution and hard work. As mentioned, this past year, the Department of Education released a guide, Human Trafficking in America’s Schools, to help schools identify potential victims, protect students, and work with partners in the efforts to prosecute traffickers. This guidance in addition to additional outreach and training helps schools understand how the problem relates to teaching and learning and why it helps – why it’s so important for schools to really address this issue and this need.

Additionally, ED, in partnership with HHS and in collaboration with the President Lincoln Cottage, formed a public-private partnership, the What I Would Miss campaign, to raise awareness about human trafficking among high school students through a peer-to-peer social media competition. The campaign encourages teenagers to think about aspects of their daily lives that they would miss if they were a victim of human trafficking, and share – and post social media answers to that questions, including related facts about human trafficking.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Much appreciated. I turn now and recognize Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez of the Department of Transportation.

DEPUTY SECRETARY MENDEZ: Okay. Thank you. Good morning, everyone, and thanks for being here. It’s been very informative. I think the one thing that I’m kind of picking up on here on common themes are the issues of collaboration, partnerships, and of course, a lack of data – very important for us to get a better grip on this issue.

At USDOT we are doing a lot to combat human trafficking. We have focused a lot on providing awareness training and including our stakeholder groups in that training. We have launched a launched a training effort that we called Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking. It does bring to the effort a lot of our transportation industry and does have a major impact. To date, over 100 organizations from all modes of transportation have been engaged with the initiative.

We also have partnered very closely with our sister agency, the Department of Homeland Security, to implement training for airline personnel through our Blue Lightning Initiative. We’re also working with DHS to train Amtrak and the motor coach industry, so thanks for your assistance on that. In 2016, we’re going to refresh our internal training for over 55,000 employees within USDOT, so we continue with our internal training. And we will look to continue expanding our training with DHS to transit operators as well.

So as you can tell, we’re trying to do – I think bring to the industry within transportation, all modes of transportation, and raise the awareness and the ability for us to actually recognize and be able to pinpoint the issues. And hopefully, we’ll make a big difference there as well. So thank you all very much. Thanks for the effort here.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Victor. Much appreciated. Our final report from an agency is from the chair of the EEOC, Jenny Yang. Thank you very much.

MS YANG: Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry. And thank you for all of you in the room for your leadership on this urgent human rights issue.

The EEOC has made it a national strategic priority to protect victims of trafficking. Often when employers and their agents engage in trafficking, they can also violate our anti-discrimination laws, particularly those prohibiting discrimination based on national origin, race, and sex. So the EEOC has been able to use these tools to combat trafficking and get compensation for victims of discrimination who have been trafficked.

Education and outreach remain important strategies for us to ensure there is identification and prevention of trafficking. Since the last task force meeting, we have conducted approximately 380 anti-trafficking trainings and that has reached more than 24,000 attendees. We also train staff and representatives of our state and local fair employment partners so that they can identify victims of trafficking and also develop cases on their behalf.

Data collection we know is critical. So over the past year we’ve updated our Charge Data System so that we can now research and track human trafficking charges to improve our ability to monitor important trends and development.

In addition, we have continued our work to bring cases on behalf of victims of trafficking. And I’d like to briefly highlight updates in just three of those cases.

First, in our Global Horizons case on behalf of Thai farm workers, they were allegedly trafficked to Hawaii. We secured a judgment in December 2014 against the labor contractor for $8.7 million on behalf of 82 farm workers.

Second, in our case against Henry’s Turkeys, back in 2013 we obtained a $240 million jury verdict in favor of 32 intellectually disabled individuals. These men were subjected to trafficking and severe forms of exploitation. The award was reduced to $1.6 million based on statutory caps.

And over the past two years, we’ve been working hard to secure compensation for the victims. Often, we find employers are trying to hide assets. And we – in September, as a result of our efforts and those of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, we obtained $600,000 of this award by prevailing in court to void a suspicious transaction by the company that would have redirected money away from the workers.

And finally, just last month, we settled our case against Signal International, where hundreds of guest workers were trafficked from India. After filing for bankruptcy, the company agreed to pay $5 million to these workers, which will compensate 476 individuals for claims of race and national origin discrimination.

Moving forward, we will continue to vigorously enforce our anti-discrimination laws on behalf of victims of trafficking, and we look forward to working with all of you here. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks so much, Jenny. Appreciate it very, very much. Finally, I want to ask Presidential Assistant Tina Tchen and also Chief of Staff for First Lady to share with us her thoughts on this. As everybody knows, she has long had an interest in this issue and worked on it and pushed everybody here to do more. So Tina, the floor is yours.

MS TCHEN: Well, that was the perfect setup – (laughter) – to what I’m about to say. First –

SECRETARY KERRY: You’re about to push?

MS TCHEN: I’m about to push. Well, first, thank you, Secretary Kerry, and thanks to Ambassador Coppedge for your leadership on this. I want to especially also acknowledge my colleagues at the White House, Amy Pope from the National Security Council, Roy Austin from the Domestic Policy Council, and the Deputy Director of the Council on Women and Girls Jordan Brooks, who have been so instrumental here.

When you listen to the response around the table that all of you have given to the President’s charge from 2012, I am struck by the fact that there is probably no other enterprise on the face of the planet that is prepared to address all the dimensions of human trafficking as the U.S. federal government, from law enforcement to intelligence to contracting to diplomacy. We are the only enterprise that has it all to do it both internationally and domestically, and you all have done it. And so I want to thank you on behalf of the President for that work.

And then, as the Secretary said, I want to challenge you, because what we feel here is the fierce urgency of the remaining 12 months and with the opportunity that we have to really expand, take to scale many of the things as many of you have addressed. The pilot projects that we have done over the last three years, let’s scale them. Let’s make as broad and as deep a commitment as we can on this enterprise that can have such a reach on this issue that no other enterprise can, and really cement the legacy.

And as the Secretary noted, we will have one final PITF later on this year. And we will be pushing you, but we also stand ready to work with all of you to do as much as we possibly can with the remaining time that we have and build this into something that will far outlast all of us around the table. So thank you, again. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’d just second that. No, thank you, Tina. As we close out here – and by the way, I just mentioned the fact of 13 and 20 and people went crazy cutting down. (Laughter) Impressed.

Everybody around this table understands the horror of this challenge, and so I’m not going to say more about it except that we do have a unique opportunity, each and every one of us in our departments over the course of 13 months to make a mark on this. And I think of all the things we do, I mean, this is one we can measure. But also, I mean, this is so dramatic in its impact.

And no other country puts every agency of its government around the table and asks them to work together to get something done. What I’ve just heard – I mean, I am inspired by listening to what every department is doing. And so if we can all keep this front and center on our agenda over the course of the next year, I have absolute confidence that we’re going to grow the participation of other countries, other agencies, other governments in this effort, and we’re going to make a real difference.

So thank you to everybody for being an extraordinary team, and it is a team effort. And I look forward to the meeting that we’ll have somewhere towards the end of the year, when we can really appropriately measure it and lay out what eight years of President Obama has succeeded in doing to make a difference here. So thank you, everybody. Appreciate it. Thanks. (Applause)

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