Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons
MS JARRETT: Welcome to the White House. I am Valerie Jarrett. And on behalf of the President, I want to welcome you to what is our last task force meeting to monitor and combat trafficking in persons. And to all those of you who are tuning in online, we appreciate your presence. Obviously those of us around this table are committed to this issue, but we need your help in order to be successful. And since it is our last meeting, I want to take this opportunity to just thank everyone for years of hard work on what we know is an issue that’s very important to the President, as I know it is to all of you.
The group that sits at this table represents a comprehensive effort to combat trafficking, and the announcements that you will hear in the course of the morning have come in answering the President’s call to strengthen our effort and expand our partnership and bring more resources together to end trafficking and protect the victims and to do it in a comprehensive and strategic way, which is why we’ve assembled together as a task force over the years. So before we hear from you, I’m honored to announce the latest exciting challenge from the Partnership for Freedom initiative, a public-private partnership that President Obama announced back in 2012 dedicated to spurring innovative ways to fight human trafficking.
In previous years, the Partnership for Freedom has successfully run two challenges: the first, to support innovation in victim services, including a partnership that increased shelter availability and the first ever medical clinic dedicated solely to trafficking victims; and the second, to mobilize the tech community to fight labor trafficking in global supply chains. Today, the Partnership for Freedom launches its third challenge, Pathways to Freedom, to call on communities to shift local practices, policies, and perceptions towards trafficking survivors. Survivors have often told us that escaping their trafficking situation is only the beginning of their struggle to rebuild their lives, and we know there’s more we all need to do to support them. Pathways to Freedom is yet another way we are working to bolster assistance to survivors.
As we work to institutionalize a strong framework to carry through to the next administration, I want to underscore the challenges ahead and make sure that we continue to build on all the incredible progress that we have made over the last several years. I look forward to hearing from each of you on how your agencies will meet this challenge and to know how committed we are to ensuring that, until the President’s last day in office and beyond, we commit to ensure that we do everything we can to end modern slavery.
And so with that, I will turn it over to Secretary Kerry.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you, Valerie. Thank you very, very much, and my apologies to all for being a moment late. But let me second what Valerie said with respect to the efforts of everybody. This is our last meeting, as she mentioned, and I have to say that over the four years of this effort, I’m personally really grateful for and impressed by the extraordinary distance we have traveled here. This all-of-government effort has really been very, very significant. Everybody here has contributed significantly in their agencies, and I think this Administration can be extraordinarily proud of what we have done to raise the profile of this challenge and to have an impact on countries all around the world. So I hope everybody feels positive about that, because I think we ought to.
Human trafficking is one of the few issues that we face, all of us, on a day-to-day basis in governing where there’s no – unlike a lot of other issues that are clouded by nuance or a kind of complexity – this is not complex except in the execution of the things we know we have to achieve. And there certainly is no nuance whatsoever. There’s a moral clarity here that’s as firm as you could have on any kind of issue. And needless to say, the notion of modern-day slavery is one that touches everybody’s conscience and it is one of just fundamental, basic human decency.
So I think that there are daily threats that are unfathomable that some people live with in some parts of the world, whether it’s a pregnant woman who had a miscarriage on a factory floor and then was forced – this is outside of Bangkok – and she was forced to keep peeling shrimp for the next four days, or a fishing crew in Eastern Europe that was coerced into working up to 22 hours a day, knee-deep in freezing water, or young women and girls who fled their homes as refugees only to be victimized by large sex trafficking rings elsewhere. Stories like these are common. They’re the everyday stories, unfortunately, and the moral urgency of addressing this issue is what has spurred everybody around this table, and a lot of people who aren’t here today, to action.
But I want to be clear: This not simply a question of right versus wrong. It’s in our strategic interest as well to ensure that this fight is a priority of our foreign policy. And the fact is that human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise. It’s assault on human rights and is – it’s a threat to global stability. It undermines the rule of law, it breeds corruption, it spreads disease, it widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and it tears whole families apart. So it’s counter to every single thing that we are trying to accomplish in the field of development and everything that we would like to see in our communities and in communities elsewhere in the world as we try to live up to the 2030 development goals.
So we all have an interest in succeeding, in winning this battle and in making sure that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. So I think that this Administration, as I said earlier, has done an exceptional job of creating the urgency around this issue that it deserves.
President Obama issued a critical Executive Order to ensure that no federal contract contributes in any way to human trafficking. It’s why, in this year’s TIP Report, the State Department is calling on every government in every region develop a better understanding of the needs of at-risk populations and to adopt strategies to reduce their vulnerability and keep them safe. And I will comment that today – what we learned last year is that if we engage with countries two or three months out, we can have a major impact on getting them to kick in to meet what we see is becoming a challenge in the reports. And today, I urged everybody to begin that process with the next administration promptly in January and February so that we double our effort to get ahead of that curve.
We’re gearing up now to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Council’s first annual report, which called for improved outreach on prevention and victim identification. And last month at Our Ocean conference, the State Department committed to invest more time and money than ever before in fighting forced labor in rogue elements of the worldwide fishing industry.
So the bottom line is we’ve been making steady progress to drawing attention to the crime of trafficking, we’re mobilizing resources unprecedented to fight it, and – obviously – I hope everybody here will make sure that we’ll make the efforts necessary to make further gains and build on the past successes.
So I hope today we’re not just going to take stock, but we’re going to push harder across the board, that we keep the momentum going, and ensure that this critical work leaves the next administration with the best starting point that anybody’s ever had, and I’m absolutely confident that that’s going to be the case. So thank you. And with that, I think we turn now to Susan Coppedge to give us an update on the work of the Senior Policy Operating Group.
MS COPPEDGE: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. It’s a real honor to be here today. And as someone who frequently engages with foreign governments on human trafficking, I know that our own government’s efforts, including at the interagency level represented by everyone here today, they have a direct impact on the global fight to end modern slavery.
Foreign countries look to the United States for new ideas and leadership, and the collaborative and innovative work of the Senior Policy Operating Group is vital to our continued leadership. I’ll briefly highlight some of the achievements this year. The Procurement and Supply Chains Committee drafted new guidance to manage and mitigate risk of human trafficking in federal contracts. The Grantmaking Committee updated the Senior Policy Operating Group’s review procedure to increase information-sharing between agencies on anti-trafficking grants and programs. And the Public Awareness and Outreach Committee organized a robust outreach campaign strategy that we’ll roll out in January.
I’m also pleased to see today that members of the Advisory Council are here. More than anyone else, survivors are uniquely capable of informing the full range of our prosecution, protection, and prevention efforts. And that’s why we are excited to say that the Advisory Council published its first report last week, which offers recommendations to various federal agencies on how to better implement our anti-trafficking policies.
But the Advisory Council members don’t just offer recommendations, they inspire hope. As they remain engaged in this fight and positive about their futures, then we must make every effort to match their optimism and energy by working across government to protect all survivors and to prevent this crime from happening in the first place. I am proud of what the Senior Policy Operating Group and the Advisory Council have accomplished this year, and I’m optimistic that strong collaboration on the critical issue of human trafficking will continue into the next administration.
Roy, I think we’re – go over to you.
MR AUSTIN: So thank you, Susan, and I think it’s my job to introduce the members of the Advisory Council, but specifically Harold D’Souza, if he would please stand for a second. So Harold is representing the Advisory Council, and would the other members just stand, if you’re present? So we have four of the 11 here, and what this is is a representation of survivors and giving voice to survivors in this important work. It’s great that all of us get together and talk about this, but the people whose lives have been impacted the most need to have a voice. And so just last year they came together and just last week they released a report that talked about the importance of survivors on training, on grantmaking, having survivors also talk about making sure that everyone has comprehensive services. And just to highlight Mr. D’Souza’s story, Mr. D’Souza came here from India expecting to have a job in manufacturing, ending up being forced into working at a restaurant – he and his wife – for 19 months until he escaped. And instead of then escaping and just moving on with his life, he has become a lifelong advocate for other survivors, including his current work with the survivor – with the Advisory Council.
So I’d just like to say a huge thank you to you, those who are not here, for the amazing work that all of you have done this past year in the report that you released. So thank you so much. (Applause.)
And I think back to you --
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Roy. Thank you very much. It’s my pleasure now to introduce everybody to the 2016 recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. And I think Susan is going to read the individual citations, but let me just say that, first of all, we have Daniel Becker, Courtney McCrimmon, and Beatrice Greeson who are representing Students Opposing Slavery, SOS. It’s a student-led network committed to empowering young leaders’ awareness how to stop trafficking, started in 2012 by high school students pioneering an innovative movement, and it’s terrific. And then secondly, Dr. Christopher White and the defense – representing DARPA, Defense Advanced Research, and they came up with an innovative way of tracking this, and I’ll let the citation speak for itself.
MS COPPEDGE: I think we’re going to go up to podium, Mr. Secretary --
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay, great.
MS COPPEDGE: -- and allow them to come up and be recognized.
And for Students Opposing Slavery, for sustained leadership and efforts to inform, inspire, and empower the next generation by raising awareness and building a network of students across the United States and around the world dedicated to ending modern slavery. Thank you for your efforts.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
MS COPPEDGE: And for Dr. Christopher White and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for unparalleled leadership and dedication --
SECRETARY KERRY: I don’t have a medal here. Where is --
MS COPPEDGE: We’ll – we’ll get the medal, yep. (Laughter.) For unparalleled leadership and dedication in developing new and powerful technologies to enhance the capacity of U.S. law enforcement, military, and intelligence entities to dismantle human trafficking enterprises and bring traffickers to justice. (Applause.)
And I encouraged the Secretary to move quickly when we were in the car on the way over here, but we moved too quickly and we forgot Harold D’Souza was going to make some comments from the Advisory Council.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good-looking, huh? (Indicating Presidential medal. Laughter.)
MS COPPEDGE: So we’ll have Mr. D’Souza come up now. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good to see you, congratulations. Thanks for your work – appreciate it.
MR D’SOUZA: Happy morning, everyone.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
MR D’SOUZA: In a victim’s life, slavery is a journey but not a fate or destination. Today, on this auspicious day, it is a privilege for all our survivors in America to recognize, in slavery, life is changed, not ended. As I stand before you all representing our Advisory Council members, this is a pure reflection of the honorable delegates present here for the good human deeds bestowed in engaging, empowering, and appointing survivors to the historic United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. The Council organized itself into five committees in collaboration with the PITF agencies to submit its first report on October 18th. It addresses the following five topics: the first, rule of law; public awareness; victim services; labor law; and grantmaking. For each topic, the report provides an overview, three recommendations to improve federal anti-trafficking policies, and highlight areas for future collaboration. We request the PITF agencies work with us to implement our recommendations to stop modern slavery.
The Council also recommends Congress to amend Section 115(f) of the JVTA to allow for compensation to the council in order to thrive and not just survive.
We agree strength does not come from winning, power does not come from slavery, pride does not come from pain, and ego does not come from exploitation. When a victim or a survivor decides not to surrender, that is strength. When a victim decides not to fear, that is power. And when a victim decides not to be raped, that is pride. And when a victim decides not to be traumatized, that is ego.
We believe victims’ lives matter, survivors’ voices count. Victims live freely and survivors are treated equally.
The Council thanks the PITF agencies, NGOs, faith-based organizations, community members, businesses, and philanthropists, and encourages further with an empowerment to engage survivors to prevent human trafficking. Thank you very much, and God bless America. (Applause.) Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Harold, thank you very much. We really – I respect your work and appreciate your leadership very, very much. Thank you for being here.
We turn now to some reports from folks around the table, beginning with our good Attorney General. Obviously, there is no enforcement without the efforts of the combined AG and FBI efforts. So I’m delighted to recognize Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Thank you.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LYNCH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thank you to everyone for coming together to work on certainly what I think is one of the most important issues facing not just our country, but so many countries today, which is of course the scourge of human trafficking – one of the most invisible yet pernicious crimes that crosses borders.
I’m particularly delighted to actually speak after Harold D’Souza, and I thank you for your words and for representing – you and all those on the council – representing the victims so well. Because, in fact, it is for you that we do this work. And so without your words and your input, we would not have the information we need to be as effective as possible.
I’m happy to be here with all of our partners in this. Partnership is the way in which we will combat and end this terrible crime. The Department of Justice has continued our efforts to promote partnerships at all levels – international level, very vital, but also between our federal, state, and local law enforcement. And then within law enforcement, connecting law enforcement to victim services organizations and to survivors themselves. Because when we make these cases, we have to have input from those particular groups also, or we are simply putting a miniature cork in a very large bottle and letting the problem flow around it.
The only way to attack this crime is through coordinated and collaborative efforts. At the international level, our U.S.-Mexico Human Trafficking Bilateral Enforcement Initiative continues to enhance the investigations and prosecutions of the networks that operate across the U.S.-Mexico border through robust collaboration between the Department of Justice, also our colleagues of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as our Mexican law enforcement counterparts.
Just this past June, five defendants were arraigned in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn following their extradition from Mexico on charges of operating a sex trafficking enterprise. And these extraditions and the bilateral investigation that led to them are further evidence of the strength of our partnership with Mexico in this area.
Now domestically, we are also working on the partnership model. Phase II of our Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team, or ACTeam Initiative, is well underway. The ACTeam Initiative is another partnership. It’s an intensive, on-the-ground partnership between the Department of Justice, again, Department of Homeland Security – vital partners of ours – as well as the Department of Labor. And we focus on the development of high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions.
So the cities that were selected to participate in Phase I of this partnership just some 18 months ago showed a 119 percent increase in cases filed involving human trafficking, a 114 percent increase in the defendants charged. So acting together, we are expanding our enforcement efforts and, in fact, not only prosecuting more traffickers, but rescuing more survivors.
At the end of last year, at the end of 2015, we designated six additional ACTeams. Already collaborating closely, they’re undergoing intensive training with national human trafficking subject matter experts, and this will help them overcome some of the most intractable challenges that investigators and prosecutors face in identifying and initiating and advancing these investigations. And Phase II is already beginning to bear fruit, and I couldn’t be more proud of this partnership and the work that we have done.
Overall, the Department of Justice has continued to bring significant numbers of human trafficking prosecutions, because there has to be accountability for this crime. In Fiscal Year 2016, which just ended, we brought 241 human trafficking prosecutions, and that meant we charged 531 defendants and we obtained convictions against 439 traffickers. But, of course, beyond the numbers are always real people. So we continue to be especially proud of our survivor-centered, trauma-informed approach to prosecuting these cases, because our focus on victims is as important as our focus on bringing the traffickers to justice.
And, of course, that survivor-centered focus carries over into so much of what we do. Last month, for example, we announced $49 million in grant funding to combat human trafficking. And of this $49 million, the majority of these funds were awarded to service providers to provide a range of direct services to all – to the survivors of all forms of human trafficking. Almost $16 million went to support the Enhanced Collaborative Model anti-trafficking task forces across the country. So we’re splitting it between increased enforcement at the local level but also direct support to survivors.
Now, the anti-trafficking task forces are yet another example of the collaborative model that we utilize to be most effective in this field. These task forces are comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement. They’re also comprised of labor officials and victim services providers. So it’s a tripartite system. They’re selected for funding based on joint applications that are submitted by the law enforcement groups and the victim service providers together. It’s a joint application outlining how they will collaborate. So, from the beginning, collaboration and cooperation is baked into this process.
Earlier this year, the Department’s Office for Victims of Crime hosted a day-long forum with the survivors of human trafficking to enhance our collaboration with this brave group of individuals, as well as other survivor advocacy groups, and to better incorporate their perspectives into the federal anti-trafficking work that we’re doing.
And let me also join in congratulating the U.S. Advisory Council on the publication of the report earlier this month, and we thank you for your efforts in sharing your experiences but also converting those experiences into real effort, into real initiatives that will guide all of us in the future. We look forward to working with you on these important recommendations.
And let me just add that the Department of Justice is tremendously proud to be part of an Administration that has made the fight against human trafficking a focus and has also made such progress in this fight. I’m certainly proud of what we’ve accomplished, but I look forward to everything that we’re going to accomplish together. And if our past history is any guide, we’re well on our way to making inroads against this terrible crime.
So thank you, Mr. Secretary, for the chance to discuss some of what the Department of Justice is doing, and of course we have our strong partners in the FBI as well.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Madam Attorney General. Thank you so much for your leadership and efforts on this. It makes a huge difference. And now I recognize FBI Director James Comey to discuss their initiatives.
MR COMEY: Good day, Mr. Secretary. As the Attorney General said, we are passionate about doing this work. As we know from our prior discussions in this room, the FBI focuses on trafficking through our civil rights program, but we bring a special focus on children trapped in the slave trade through our Violent Crimes Against Children program. As the AG said, we’ve done a lot of work over the last year, and I thought I’d just give you a few numbers from the FBI’s perspective.
In Fiscal Year 2016, we worked 1,894 trafficking investigations, we made 2,600 arrests, and we rescued over 1,000 children, including just last week we finished our 10th Operation Cross Country, which focuses on children caught in the commercial sex trade, and we rescued 82 kids and locked up 239 traffickers during that effort. We’ve continued to do what the Attorney General has asked us to do, which is focus on victim-centered response to this scourge. We are making sure that throughout all of our offices we are treating these people, whether children or adults, like the victims that they are and getting them the care and services that they need.
We’re also doing two things I think better than before. We’re pushing out training to make sure that people know what trafficking looks like so they can tell us about it so we can investigate and lock up the slavers. And the second thing we’re trying to do better is tighten our international partnerships. Operation Cross Country this year was an international effort involving Canadian partners and many Southeast Asian nations because we realize that slavery knows no borders. If we’re going to be good, we have to be good together with our partners.
I think we all come to government work hoping to be involved in work with moral content. I can’t imagine work that is deeper in moral content than this. I can promise you on behalf of the FBI that we will not let this lose momentum. We will continue to work this certainly for the remainder of my six years and ten months in this job. Thank you, Mr. Secretary – not that I’m counting. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: You have that kind of longevity? (Laughter.) Thank you. Thank you, Director. Thanks for your efforts on this. I now want to call on Chair Jenny Yang from the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to talk about anti-discrimination and other enforcement. Thank you, Jenny.
MS YANG: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Thanks to members of the Advisory Council and to our presidential award recipients and really everyone in this room for your leadership on this critical issue.
When workers are trafficked, they can also experience employment discrimination. The laws that we enforce at the EEOC, particularly those prohibiting discrimination based on race, national origin, sex – including sexual harassment – can often be an integral part in the fight against trafficking. Civil enforcement can be a vital tool to both vindicate rights and obtain remedies for victims. Last year, the EEOC resolved two lawsuits involving hundreds of victims of labor trafficking.
In the EEOC’s lawsuit against Global Horizons in Washington state, the court ordered the company over $7 million to 67 Thai farm workers who had been subjected to harassment and discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court recognized that the workers had been subjected to fear, intimidation, humiliation, shame, and an unrelenting sense of imprisonment. In a companion case in Hawaii against Global Horizons and five farms, a court earlier awarded over $12 million in total damages for 82 workers there.
In another EEOC case, Signal International LLC, a shipbuilding and repair company, agreed to pay $5 million to resolve a race and national origin discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 476 men who were recruited from India through the federal H-2B guest worker program. These individuals lived in segregated labor camps in Texas and Mississippi in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workers alleged that the company and its agents lured them with dishonest assurances of becoming lawful permanent residents in the United States. Instead, when they arrived they were forced to work and labor in discriminatory conditions.
So in addition to our enforcement work, the EEOC has also been focused on outreach. Last year, we partnered with community-based organizations devoted to anti-trafficking work. We conducted more than 180 anti-trafficking outreach events, and we reached over 12,000 attendees. We also trained staff and representatives of our state and local government partners on how to identify and develop trafficking cases.
Moving forward, combating trafficking will remain a priority for the EEOC. Last month, the commission approved a new strategic plan that continues to prioritize issues affecting vulnerable workers, including victims of human trafficking.
President Obama has called the fight against trafficking one of the great human rights causes of our time. This Administration has made important progress in the fight against trafficking. Thank you to everyone from the PITF for your leadership. Much work remains to be done, and the EEOC looks forward to continuing to work with all of our fellow partners. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Jenny, thank you very much. Now my pleasure to recognize our Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Stephanie O’Sullivan.
MS O’SULLIVAN: I’m very happy to be here today to recognize the progress that has been made on the President’s goal to strengthen federal efforts to respond to – to combat human trafficking. For the Intelligence Community, the first step was recognizing the issue as an increasing national security priority and raising its overall priority (inaudible). The result has been a significant and continued increase in the reporting of human trafficking, adding to our knowledge base of trafficking patterns and perpetrators. We have also increased outreach across the community to academia, international organizations, and law enforcement and are targeting our analysis to support their broader efforts.
Finally, the Intelligence Community is completing a national intelligence estimate on global human trafficking, which would be the first IC-wide assessment on this critical topic. The paper will look at the impact of the conflict and crises on human trafficking flows as well as the drivers that will increase the likelihood of trafficking.
We look forward to continuing the (inaudible) not only as national security professionals but also as a call to human decency.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Stephanie, very much. Now, Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Sarah Bloom Raskin.
MS RASKIN: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. The Department --
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just comment that I’m very happy you guys are here for the first time. (Laughter.)
MS RASKIN: Yes, happy to be here. And the Department of Treasury is proud to support the work of the President’s Interagency Task Force and the efforts to combat human trafficking more broadly. I’m pleased to be able to join today’s meeting to share with you Treasury’s ongoing efforts to help end modern-day slavery, and I look forward to further collaboration through this forum.
So Treasury brings to this work significant financial expertise, and Treasury has harnessed this financial expertise to collect and analyze financial intelligence and data to identify human traffickers and their networks, to attack and undermine the financial underpinnings of these networks, and to support law enforcement investigations that lead to accountability and justice.
In addition, Treasury, specifically our Office of Foreign Assets Control or OFAC, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, better known as FinCEN, have particular tools to support the mission of combating human trafficking. These tools include the use of our anti-money laundering authority, our accounting – our countering the financing of terrorism authority, as well as our sanctions authority. For example, Treasury’s FinCEN works closely with the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, among other federal partners, to collaborate more closely with analysts and field agents to seek opportunities to further coordinate on government analytical products that could provide a tactical and strategic advantage to law enforcement and to leverage financial data that Treasury collects, including under the Bank Secrecy Act to identify suspicious transactions involving human trafficking and target human trafficking networks.
Treasury is also committed to working with the private sector, especially with financial institutions, by providing guidance on how to detect and report suspicious financial activity with a potential nexus to human trafficking. In 2014, Treasury issued a public advisory that identifies financial indicators or red flags that may indicate that financial activity is related to human trafficking or human smuggling. The advisory has been viewed over a million times since its publication and has led to an increase in reporting to FinCEN from financial institutions and has assisted U.S. law enforcement investigations.
Further, Treasury’s OFAC coordinates closely with the Department of Justice and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and then impose sanctions on specific human trafficking and smuggling networks, their leaders, their associates, and those who provide material support.
Among those sanctioned is the yakuza, Japan’s powerful criminal syndicate that is notorious for violence and far-ranging criminal activities, including sex trafficking, sex tourism, human smuggling, and prostitution. Since July 2011, Treasury has designated 14 yakuza members and their associates.
Treasury has also designated the Central American gang known as MS-13 for engaging in transnational criminal activities including kidnapping, sex trafficking, and human smuggling. MS-13 is one of the most dangerous and rapidly expanding criminal gangs worldwide, and Treasury has designated 12 of its members, including 12 – including two earlier this year, as part of our ongoing effort to target organizations and individuals that engage in this sort of activity. Treasury has also stepped up sanctions on drug trafficking organizations that likely facilitate, enable, or profit from human trafficking.
The Department of Treasury is committed through these and other means to continuing our efforts to support the fight against human trafficking. We are able to bring strong tools and analysis to this effort. We will continue to use all of our authorities to disrupt criminals who attempt to use our financial system to engage in these activities. And we will continue to seek new ways to combat these networks, to deepen our cooperation with law enforcement, and to further collaborate with all those who are willing to partner in these efforts. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much. Thank you. So that takes care of the sort of rule-of-law component of the reports today. And now we’re going to discuss the victim services. Let me just say quickly that I’m proud that this March the State Department issued new mandatory standards for all of our employees under the Chief of Mission authority that will set new guidelines for the hiring of personal domestic workers. And we also have additional contractual protections in order to ensure that those who are representing our country live up to local law as well as U.S. standards.
So let me turn first to Senior Counselor Andrea Palm of the – of HHS to give us an update on victim services.
MS PALM: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. I would echo the AG’s thanks to the Advisory Council and to the Presidential Award recipients. That’s really important and inspiring work, so thank you for your efforts.
I would – we’ve had some progress since I was here with you all last year on items that we’ve been working on and predominantly I would say in three areas. And to ensure that we are able to continue our work beyond this Administration, we have embedded an office on trafficking in persons within HHS to continue that focus.
So first, we’ve been very focused on making sure we can increase and continue to serve growing numbers of victims of trafficking with services that they need. In FY16 with HHS dollars through our grantees, we served more than 2,300 victims and family members, which is a 40 percent increase over the previous year. We’re also understanding that our money is not enough to serve all that need serving. We have worked to streamline our processes and enhance our network beyond just the community-based organizations that we’ve done to provide referrals and connect folks to services to the tune of about an additional 8,100 victims of trafficking. So we feel good about making sure that folks are getting services as soon as possible, whether it’s with our dollars or with the broader network.
And I’m sure you all know we also rely pretty heavily on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, which, since the beginning of this Administration, has identified well over 30,000 cases of trafficking, and about 7,100 of those were just in the last year, which is a 33 percent increase over the previous year. We also have a focus on underserved communities and have been working to build our resources and outreach to folks in the LGBT community, as well as American Indian and Alaska native populations who we think are underserved.
Second is in the area of data collection, innovation, and research. We’ve funded over $1 million worth of evaluations of trafficking programs so that we’re sure we’re promoting best practices. And later this fall, we will put out for public comment a set of uniform data collection standards so that we are sure we understand what we’re seeing in the data moving forward.
We’ll do some work also this year, this coming year in training and technical assistance, and we’re going to be adapting some of our training models specifically for HHS personnel, and we’ll be doing some professional development and fellowships for trafficking victims themselves. We hope that that will build capacity in the system as well.
The third bucket I’d like to touch on is in our partnerships, both new and expansions of previous partnerships. So this fall with DOJ, we’re actually going to announce the 21 members of our national advisory committee. We look forward to doing that. Later this week, we’re going to release our second interagency report.
And then the final thing I would just mention, with HUD – we did a series of listening sessions over the last year that I’m sure people are familiar with, and we will be putting out for public comment a joint guidance that will focus on specialized housing and service needs for victims of trafficking. So we’ll look forward to everyone’s engagement on that draft guidance.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you, Andrea, that’s great, a lot of stuff. Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, Department of the Interior.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CONNOR: Secretary Kerry, thank you very much. We at Interior are also well-served by the President’s leadership and the inspiration provided by the Advisory Council. Most of our work has been, as we find with most of these initiatives, of particular applicability, as Andrea mentioned, in the Native American community – with the economic conditions, the prospects for exploitation are significant. And from that point, we’ve focused on doing a lot of work in victim services. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is increasing its staff that can provide victim services to those subject to human trafficking.
We have also taken specific action in partnering with Department of Justice and others in providing training for our law enforcement personnel, both the Bureau of Indian Affairs, law enforcement officers, as well as tribal police departments. Over – we’ve been training for over 160 law enforcement officers just on the prevalence of human trafficking itself, but specifically training for over 125 officers related to the victim assistance, victim needs, even on the neurobiology of promise so that the law enforcement officers better understand the victims themselves and can provide services as they move forward in providing assistance.
So it’s been a very active area for us. I would also mention just quickly that Secretary Jewell, just 10 days ago, participated in the inaugural meeting of the North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls. This is not just a United States problem with respect to native communities. So that was in fulfillment of the goals set out as part of the North American Leaders’ Summit, as you well know. And so from that standpoint, she was very encouraged by the shared concern by her counterparts in Mexico and Canada. There will be agreements coming out of that working group and so we will make progress not only here, but across the border.
SECRETARY KERRY: Super. Thank you very much, Michael. Michael Scuse now, Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
MR SCUSE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. First I’d like to commend the Advisory Council for the great work that they’ve done, and also congratulate the award winners. Job well done.
In 2016, USDA and HHS conducted outreach visits to StrikeForce states to increase awareness on human trafficking, heighten our understanding of the current challenges across rural America, provide communities information regarding available resources, and introduce survivor services groups to our community leaders.
We learned from survivors that at-risk populations generally lack awareness of human trafficking and do not understand that the conditions that they are experiencing are, in fact, a crime. We developed a human trafficking awareness for food and agricultural trifold pamphlet that we have distributed across USDA for local printing and distribution by our offices across America.
Housing for survivors is a challenge since the crimes that survivors are often forced to commit in their trafficking situation disqualify them from public housing. We look forward to working to prioritize shelters for trafficking victims and support the U.S. Advisory Council’s recommendation to establish federal housing preferences and support of survivors of human trafficking. USDA also will explore minimizing the impact of a survivor’s criminal record on loan eligibility as well as linkage of human trafficking convictions to an entity’s eligibility for USDA financial programs.
Mr. Secretary, I’m also pleased to report that to date, over 18,000 USDA employees, contractors, and 53 law enforcement personnel have completed the revised voluntary training program on human trafficking.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Terrific. Now Chief of Staff Seema Nanda from the Department of Labor.
MS NANDA: Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry. One critical element in a trafficking survivor’s recovery is the prevention of revictimization and their ability to gain gainful employment and job skills. Survivors may face unique barriers to employment such as limited English proficiency, trauma-related injuries, and criminal records, and at the same time employment service providers may have gaps in their knowledge of how to serve this population.
So we’re very pleased to have just launched a new evidence-based, place-based collaboration with HHS’s Administration for Children and Families and DOJ’s Office of Victims of Crime to improve the employment and training services offered to trafficking survivors. The pilot is taking place in two cities – in Miami and New York. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to connect HHS and DOJ grantees serving survivors of trafficking with existing DOL programs, including DOL’s network of over 2,000 American job centers around the country, as well as DOL’s network of farm worker grantees who provide employment and training services.
So the goal is to build on relationships, built these relationships on both the federal and local level and create a network of victim service providers and employment and training providers. And as the project continues, we expect to learn more about specific challenges and how to overcome them, and then to sort of wrap these up into a series of promising practices that we can further disseminate.
And as a close corollary to this, DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office is launching a study of promising practices and barriers to employment training service in the delivery of foreign trafficking survivors. So we’ve been putting these two projects together. We have a really excellent place-based project, and we’re really building on evidence, and we look very much forward to working with our great partners at HHS and DOJ moving forward. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Seema, very much. We’ll move now to the procurement and supply chain channels, which is an area of particular concern given that with the amount of global business being done in the movement across borders, there’s a lot of human trafficking that gets hidden in the shadows, so to speak, through supply chains. We’ve taken a lot of steps to try to deal with this, including in federal contractors, in monitoring, reducing, and preventing this within supply chains in the electronics industry, logging and mining, fishing, or manufacturing.
The State Department announced plans last month at Our Ocean conference to dedicate more than $2.8 million in funding to support new programs to deal with this in the Southeast Asia fish market particularly. And earlier this year we launched a new resource called the Responsible Sourcing Tool to strengthen protections against forced labor in federal and global supply chains. And moving forward, we’re going to expand that website to include additional risk management tools tailored to specific industries that go beyond the fishing industry.
Finally, Ambassador Coppedge and the TIP Office have dedicated new resources to implement President Obama’s Executive Order by supporting contracting officers and labor compliance advisors, overseeing contractor implementation, and providing strategic support to the Procurement and Supply Chains Committee.
So let me now recognize USAID Administrator Gayle Smith to discuss ongoing efforts in procurement and supply.
ADMINISTRATOR SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thanks to our Advisory Council, and congratulations to our award winners. That’s great.
USAID’s honored to be part of answering the President’s call, but also honored to be in a room and see what it looks like when the entire government steps up on an issue, and it’s pretty impressive.
We announced at a meeting several months of this group the Supply Unchained initiative. And what we did under that was issued a call for innovative approaches using technology to try to get to some of the systemic issues that the Secretary just described. We’ve now kicked off three, and the idea here is that these can be models that can be replicated in the same sector or in other sectors and then actually be brought to scale.
The first was announced last month; it’s Stop Trafficking by Sea, which we’re doing with the Blue Moon Fund, to satellite-based vessel tracking technology to help us identify and counter human trafficking in the global fishing industry. The second is working with GoodWeave to develop a tech platform that will help the target corporation identify risks of human trafficking in its supply chain in India – and again, we think this is one that could be very worthy of replication, assuming its successful. The third underway is in partnership with the Issara Institute in Thailand, where we’re collecting and analyzing real-time data using social media platforms to increase our ability to reach migrants working in the seafood industry. Part of the issue is actually, as you know, reaching these actual individuals.
Second, we have put additional resources into research. We all know, I think, the general facts about trafficking, but we think there’s great merit in drilling down. We’ve put $2 million in to do field-based research in things like the specific root causes of any given sector or region. Again, we know these generically, but the more specific we can be, the more targeted our interventions.
The impact of outreach. We know that outreach is sometimes very effective; it sometimes causes traffickers to move further underground. How do we unpack that? And also impact evaluations to really look at whether our interventions are as successful as we hope them to be, and we’ll start with that in Colombia on a look at specific livelihood interventions and what impact those have had in reducing vulnerability.
Last, and consistent with what the FBI Director said about we’ve got to work the international side, the domestic side to make this work, we’re pleased to be partnering with HHS on the Northern Triangle, and to coordinate specifically. We’re working in the Triangle, HHS is working here, to improve our programming. And we’re very thankful to the recommendations of the Advisory Council to help us improve three things, again, and share enough information that we can do these on both ends of the spectrum: giving survivors a greater voice in designing the programming; identifying more opportunities for survivors to prosper, going on just beyond basic services; and working with survivors to identify and apply culturally sensitive and trauma-informed tools for intervention.
Lastly, and consistent, Valerie, with your comments at the top, we’ve worked very hard to institutionalize this in USAID so that it can’t be undone by future administrations. And I’m quite pleased that in an expanding body of work in supply-chain development and value chains in a number of fields, we are finding that this is being brought to bear in other programs that are not titled trafficking as well as in our programming to target specific vulnerable populations.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Gayle, very, very much for such a broad effort.
I want to turn now to Andrew Mayock, Senior Adviser at OMB, Management – OMB.
MR MAYOCK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.
MR MAYOCK: Great to be here today to report on a couple of things – one, to report out on progress made; and two, more importantly, as you put it, how are we pushing harder to make sure we’re pushing right through this Administration and handing off to the next administration with a really strong pass of the baton.
I wanted to report to this group on two major efforts. One is the implementation of EEO as it relates to the contract clauses; and two, how we’re supporting responsiblesourcingtool.org along with the leadership of J/TIP.
As to the clauses, I wanted to note that we are over a year into the rule being final and us being in the practice of the clauses being inside U.S. contracts. And those clauses strengthen victim protections in federal contracts, and they expressly prohibit contractors and their recruiting companies from, one, charging workers recruitment fees; two, confiscating immigration documents; and three, using misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices. We also have in the – in federal contracting now those contractors that are performing a substantial amount of services overseas, compliance plans so that they’re monitoring and seeking to detect trafficking.
So I think a very strong foundation put in place, and now we’re really working on making sure that compliance is sound as well.
Number two, as I mentioned, I wanted to report on our efforts to support J/TIP and responsiblesourcingtool.org. So we’ve been working closely with Secretary Lu at the Department of Labor and with the Senior Policy Operating Group as well to make sure that we’re providing the support to industries so they understand how this operates and that we can get them the things that they need to do their job. So we’re working right now together so that we have guidance out in draft to the public and in industry in December and we finalize it before this Administration ends in January.
So I think we can say we have a strong foundation in place. We’ll continue to push harder as we move forward.
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s terrific. Very important. Thank you very much.
The unstoppable, indefatigable U.S. Trade Rep Michael Froman. (Laughter.)
MR FROMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and it’s an honor to be part of this group and to work with the advisory committee. As you know, we’ve been working to use our trade policy to promote development, combat labor exploitation, including trafficking and forced labor. In collaboration with the Department of Labor, we work with our trading partners literally around the world, from Haiti to Jordan to Burma and across Africa, to raise worker protections using our trade tools. And with the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we now have the strongest enforceable labor rights ever included in any trade agreement, including prohibitions on forced labor and child labor. Not only do we have that, but we have specific country plans for countries of concern on forced labor and human trafficking.
For example, with regard to Malaysia, a labor consistency plan that includes very specific requirements with regard to human trafficking. And already Malaysia has adopted regulations to implement a new anti-trafficking law. In May, they engaged in unprecedented engagement with civil society on the contents of that – of those regulations. And those regulations will ensure that the foreign victims of trafficking have the right to move freely, have the permission to work for up to three years, are afforded access to their travel document. The government has begun to work closely with NGOs to make sure that they’ve got the resources necessary to house and assist victims of trafficking. They’ve doubled their anti-trafficking labor inspectors and now have a dedicated anti-trafficking police force. They’re beginning to raise awareness with the most affected industries, the key industries that employ migrant workers, including the electronics and the palm oil plantations industries. And they’re working to amend other laws now to ensure that migrant workers always have control of and access to their passports, that they limit recruitment fees and levies charged by migrant work employment.
In addition, we’re working with Vietnam on its consistency plan to make sure there are effective prohibitions on forced labor, including on debt bondage, and to amend their criminal law to ensure appropriate sanctions for those who use forced labor.
And with Brunei as well we have a consistency plan that prohibits the withholding of passports and the retention by an employer of workers’ passports being made illegal.
These are all absolute critical parts to our – of our TPP effort, and when TPP goes into effect we’ll have real tools for holding our trading partners to account. They won’t be able to have access to our market if they don’t fulfill these obligations.
And it’s been a pleasure again to work with all the colleagues around this table on that effort and look forward to implementing it as soon as possible. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Michael, very, very much. Before Tina Tchen wraps up with the way ahead, we have one last section which is public awareness and outreach, and I want to begin by asking our good Secretary of Homeland Security, who doesn’t have enough on his plate – (laughter) – to provide an update.
SECRETARY JOHNSON: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Also, thank you for your leadership on this issue, John. I know that in the three years I’ve been Secretary, coming to these meetings, you’ve always found time personally to attend and chair these meetings.
The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values, not only from threats like terrorism or natural disasters, but also from the crime of human trafficking, which is an affront to human dignity. The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security every day work to combat this horrible crime. Just last week it was announced that there was an indictment in St. Louis of two men charged with operating a sex trafficking organization involving three women who were severely abused and forced against their will to work as prostitutes. Our Homeland Security Investigations and local law enforcement agencies were involved. Allegedly the traffickers physically abused the three women under their control and forced them to use drugs to keep them addicted and dependent.
I highlight this case because it demonstrates that public awareness and knowledge are integral to the work we do to combat human trafficking, because no one combats human trafficking alone. We must work alongside law enforcement and the private sector, like hotels and transportation providers, to empower our communities to recognize and report human trafficking.
Therefore, in this Administration, under President Obama’s leadership, the Department of Homeland Security in 2010 created the Blue Campaign to serve as a unified voice in our fight against human trafficking. We have created a nationwide public campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking, educating communities about what human trafficking is and what to do if you recognize a potential instance of human trafficking. We have formed more than 30 partnerships with state and local governments and the private sector for anti-human-trafficking training and awareness.
On the immigration front, I have an announcement. Continued Presence is a temporary immigration status that allows trafficking victims to remain in the United States during the investigation of the crime committed against them. Continued Presence is used to grant – is used to be granted and renewed in one-year increments. Today, I am pleased to announce that we will make Continued Presence a two-year status in the United States for non-citizen human trafficking victims, renewable in increments of up to two years. Extending this status to two years helps provide stability for victims of human trafficking while alleviating administrative burdens on victims, service providers, and the government.
I note also we have implemented human trafficking training for thousands of employees across the federal government. In January of this year, we instituted human trafficking awareness training into our basic training and curriculum at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. This means that over 90 federal law enforcement agencies are now receiving human trafficking training as part of their basic training.
Through the Blue Campaign, the Department of Homeland Security is united in our efforts to end human trafficking. It’s been noted that this is the last task force meeting of President Obama’s Administration, but this means the work must go on beyond the life of this Administration. And I pledge the resources of the Department of Homeland Security in this continued important effort. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Jeh, very much, and thank you for your steady presence here too. We appreciate it enormously. I now turn to Deputy Homeland Security Advisor for the National Security Council Amy Pope.
MS POPE: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. First, I think we should all just recognize the value of what we’re doing here today to build public awareness of the importance of our work here in human trafficking. The fact that we have so many Cabinet secretaries sitting around a table, so many senior-level officials talking about this issue, making real commitments and bringing them to the table; the fact that this is being witnessed by the advisory committee – or the Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and that it’s being livestreamed to the public is a real step forward both in terms of the transparency of our work, holding ourselves accountable to the promises that we make every single year, and building public awareness about the work the federal government is doing. And so that’s the kind of work that we’ve brought in this Administration that I hope continues forward in the future.
Second, I want to acknowledge the tremendous work that’s been done here at home. We’ve all witnessed the incredible work of the Blue Campaign which has been led by DHS, but what DHS has done so importantly, so effectively, is to make these tools available to all of the partners both at the federal level and state and local. I’m sure many of you have seen the posters at Dulles, at airports around the country, but also it’s about training folks so that they know how to spot human trafficking. So I’m really pleased that this year as part of the President’s FY ‘17 budget, we’ve proposed that we institutionalize the work of the Blue Campaign, that it goes from being a really creative, persistent, but grassroots effort led by people who just are really committed to the work to a real program that’s funded within the President’s budget this next year.
But perhaps what I’ve seen is there’s no better way to raise awareness than to use the President’s voice, which is why it was so important that last June as part of the North American Leaders’ Summit, President Obama and President Pena Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau committed to working together in North America to combat human trafficking, including by really collaborating on our public awareness efforts. Mexico is hosting a trilateral meeting to advance this work next – or this next November, and as Deputy Secretary Michael Connor pointed out, we’ve already had a meeting of the three countries to advance our work with indigenous communities. What has been so important is seeing all three countries really commit to making efforts to working together to advance the – to counter – our work on human trafficking across our own borders. And this is really important to make sure that we here in North America are not benefiting from forced labor, and having that partnership is just key.
And then finally I just want to note that at the East Asia Summit last month, we secured leaders’ endorsements for a stronger focus on human trafficking and irregular migration. We’re supporting this with a five-year program that’s going to strengthen our cross-border cooperation, improve our data collection, and leverage the private sector in our work to counter global – or trafficking in our global supply chain.
But I think what I want to make sure we all carry forward is that we have 87 days left to really advance this work, and so I’m hopeful that our common goal will really be to institutionalize our efforts to make sure the public is aware and we’re doing as much as possible to outreach to advance our work on human trafficking.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Amy, very, very much. Thank you. Under Secretary of Defense Peter Levine.
UNDER SECRETARY LEVINE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. First, I’d like to say that the Department of Defense is proud of our award winner today, Dr. Chris White.
We talked a little bit earlier about supply chain problems, and I think about 10 to 12 years ago the Department of Defense had a very serious supply chain problem, particularly with regard to third-country nationals working for our contractors and subcontractors in Iraq. I think that we’ve really turned that problem around with the help of many agencies, many of those represented in this room, but also with a serious communication and outreach effort within our own department. We now have – all of our contracts over $500,000 have contract clauses in them, and 98 percent of our employees have been trained in human trafficking. That’s more than 2 million employees of the Department of Defense, military and civilian, so this is not an insignificant training effort. We’re going to be extending that in the near future; we’re developing materials to extend training into Department of Defense schools because of the potential vulnerability of children there. And we’re building on the training also with something that we do uniquely at Department of Defense, which is through our exercise programs. So we run an annual military exercise for operational contract support, and as we do that, we’re building human trafficking scenarios. I believe this year’s exercise included four different human trafficking scenarios so that particular fact patterns were included in the exercise so the senior leaders would have to react to those and address them and practice how they would do that. We’re not only doing this with the dedicated operational contract support exercise, but we’re also starting to build human trafficking scenarios into our other exercises so that our leaders can recognize the signs of human trafficking as they come up and to be experienced to kind of recognize those – be prepared to recognize and address those circumstances when they come up. So that’s – those are the two major things we’re moving forward on right now.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Peter, very, very much. That’s great.
Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.
MR MITCHELL: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Human trafficking is an abomination.
We all agree. That’s why we’re here. We at the Department of Education are committed to doing everything that we can as an agency and with our partner agencies to combat human trafficking. We also find that our passion is reinforced by the Advisory Council and our award winners today, and I want to note going in that one of our most successful partnerships over the last 12 months has been with Students Opposing Slavery, and with their leadership they’ve created a social media intervention to engage students themselves in the identification of human trafficking when it occurs on or near campuses. So I want to express a special gratitude to you guys and I look forward to more ahead.
In general, the Department has worked with our colleagues around this table and in the education community in three particular areas: one is prevention; second is victim identification; and the third is survivor support and re-entry. So, in that work we have conducted a series of trainings on human trafficking to school superintendents, school principals, teachers, practitioners, community leaders, and state coordinators of homeless programs, which turn out to be an important factor into this work. We will continue to do that. We will continue to explore webinars. We will continue to explore social media opportunities, and we will continue to pursue partnerships with the agencies around the table. For example, the Department and the FBI hosted webinars on this critical issue (inaudible) on how you know when there is more likely – greater likelihood of human trafficking, and that’s been very helpful to school practitioners.
We’ve worked with the Department of Defense as well on matters that involve the Department of Defense in schools, and we’re pleased to have participated with the Department of Homeland Security in the Blue Campaign, and we’ll continue as we move forward.
In terms of institutionalization of this work, one of the most important offices in the Department of Education is the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, and this work is a central pillar of that office and will continue to be so going forward.
So thank you, Mr. Secretary, for the opportunity.
SECRETARY KERRY: No, thank you, Ted. It’s terrific. Great set of initiatives. I recognize now the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Victor Mendez.
MR MENDEZ: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And I do want to say thanks to the Advisory Council for the hard work. In addition, congratulations to the awardees, and certainly Mr. D’Souza; thanks for the inspiring words today.
The Department has been involved in the effort since 2012, and we believe we’ve made a lot of progress since then to institutionalize our efforts to combat human trafficking. We launched the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking Partnership, bringing together more than 200 organizations from across the transportation industry to ensure that our transportation network is not used to enable this crime. State and local authorities, including many state departments of transportation – Arizona, Delaware, on and on – and many transit agencies in many of our cities – such as Dallas, Cleveland, L.A., and Washington, D.C., and many others – have actually joined in our efforts to combat the crime. We’re looking all across all modes of transportation, be it roads, airports, ports, railways, and truck stops.
We are especially focused on training transportation industry personnel as well. Together with DHS, we have worked with Amtrak to train all 20,000 of its rail employees to identify and to report human trafficking.
We also, as part of the Blue Campaign, launched the Blue Lightning Initiative. We have trained over 70,000 aviation personnel. And as a result of all this training, we believe we’re beginning to see a lot of verifiable reports.
The Federal Aviation Administration funding extension that was signed by the President in July in fact included a requirement for flight attendants to be trained to recognize and respond to potential instances of human trafficking. And because of the Blue Lightning Initiative training’s high quality and accessibility, more airlines actually have been reaching out to us to ensure that we actually reach out to them so we can train their personnel as well.
We are continuing to work with DHS on a training program that is tailored for the motor coach industry. And this fall we will release a training tailored for public transportation. Greyhound has in fact incorporated our program into its driver training program, and as of today, approximately 90 percent of all their drivers have been trained.
So internally within USDOT, we have trained all of our 55,000 employees in the year 2012, and now we’re beginning our re-training this year. So we’re continuing in that effort.
So moving forward, we will continue to develop our websites, to expand on our partnerships. I know everybody here really has talked about partnerships and collaborations, and that’s one of the big, big I think initiatives that all of us have. We can actually learn from each other. And I know, Ms. Yang, you mentioned ship-building, and I think – we have the maritime industry, and so there’s some really close connections, and we continue to learn from each other.
So with that, I think I’ll wrap up my comments by saying, once again, thanks to all of you for the task force, for your efforts. And I’ve learned a lot just from listening to all of you in past meetings. So thank you all very much.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Vic, very, very much. And now finally for this section, the Deputy of the Ambassador to the United Nations, Maher Bitar.
MR BITAR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I’m honored to represent the United States Mission to the UN here today. I’m pleased to report that this issue, like never before, is now squarely on the radar of numerous Member States at the United Nations. Our ambassadors and experts at the UN in New York are chairing or participating in gatherings with Member States on a regular basis to explore various aspects of countering human trafficking, whether through greater accountability, awareness, or broadening constituencies that know about this crime and are working to stop it.
When we last met, I reported on the first-ever United Nations Security Council session on “Trafficking in Persons in Conflict.” The session featured powerful testimony by Nadia Murad Taha, a 20-year-old – a 21-year-old – Yezidi woman who bravely told the story of surviving being trafficked by Da’esh, or ISIL. Since that session, Nadia has become a UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking. She is the first survivor of atrocities to be honored with such a distinction. In her role, she continues to raise awareness of the countless victims of trafficking in persons, especially refugees, women, and girls.
At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May we organized a panel together with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime entitled “Responding to Victims and the Vulnerable: Addressing Human Trafficking in Humanitarian Situations.” Natural disasters and humanitarian crises often enable surges in human trafficking as people are displaced, lose jobs, and are forced to contend with the breakdown of social and government structures. We learned that many in the humanitarian assistance community welcomed increased training on how to recognize victims and on how to provide psychosocial support to them.
We have also been active in building what’s called the Dignity Partnership. This is an effort to drive implementation alongside member-states, the private sector, and civil society of three trafficking targets within the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that the international community agreed to this fall.
The three targets include eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking in sexual and other types of exploitation; taking 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; and the third, ending the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against – torture of children.
These targets provide an unprecedented opportunity to both expand the frame of our counter-trafficking efforts and raise awareness of this issue among diverse populations including, most importantly, young people. Thanks.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Maher, very, very much. So to share with us thoughts about the road ahead, a woman who has more titles than I can possibly articulate here – (laughter) – the great Tina Tchen.
MS TCHEN: Well, thank you, Secretary Kerry, and I’ll be very brief since I know we’re over time. And this final meeting, I think it bears remembering that when we first came into office, this task force was half the size that it is today in terms of the number of agencies participating. I believe the meetings that it held rarely saw a cabinet member attending it. I think the Trafficking in Persons office at the State Department was the lone voice in our federal government sort of valiantly trying to keep this issue on the radar screen.
That was just seven and a half years ago, and it really was the leadership of the President and all of you in this Administration that has brought what is now an incredibly robust, all-hands effort against this issue, and it’s remarkable to see the change in that time. And if anyone doubts what a difference an administration can make, this particular issue really shows what can be done.
We’re combating an issue that is domestic and international. It attacks children and adults. It’s in labor, it’s in sex, it’s so pernicious, as the Attorney General said, that it does require this all-hands effort to go at it. We have successfully eliminated the embarrassment that our federal tax dollars has been supporting – had supported trafficking for years prior to this. We’re supporting victims.
So my very brief wrap-up is just first of all to acknowledge the tremendous progress that has been made, to thank all of you for the leadership and the time that you’ve given, the time you give to these meetings, as it is important, I think, to go through each agency as we did because it demonstrates and solidifies the role that each of you play, from the Intelligence Community to Labor to Agriculture, in combating this issue. And today, now with this report, sets the stage for our successors. I think that we have built systems that will be hard to dislodge. I would urge all of us to go back one more time, as Amy said, in the remaining 87 days to do whatever else we can to sustain those systems and embed them in our agencies.
And then I would urge our advisory committee and our civil society members who are here to hold everyone’s feet to the fire. You’ve held our feet to the fire, which got us to this point, and urge you to continue to do so. And thank you again, Secretary Kerry, for your leadership, for Ambassador Coppedge and your offices’ real continued, sustained effort on this, and to all of our folks here, survivors, those watching, because you are the ones who’ve kept this issue front and center for so many years. So thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Tina, let me, if I can as I close out, just back up your words slightly, but maybe I’d like to just give a bigger picture on something if I can. Almost four years now, I’ve been at this process and dealing obviously with a lot of different issues. I have never seen as cooperative and as broad a participation as we have here in this effort. We meet in the Situation Room a lot and we have a set fixed group of people, the national security group, but it doesn’t have HHS or Education or this kind of all-hands-on-deck effort.
So I think everybody should be really proud of, first of all, the President setting the mission and empowering this effort, which is critical. But I want to put it in a slightly different context also. I keep reading in various places how we’re retrenching, or America is pulling back, or we’re not leading on one thing or another. And I don’t know where that narrative comes from except that detractors like to spread it, because every fact I see counters that – everything that I see in American engagement. Believe me, there is no other country in the world where every department of that country is sitting around a table like this talking about human trafficking – not one other country doing what we’re doing here. And we’re often referred to as the indispensable nation. I’ll tell you, I’ve seen more things that just don’t happen – I don’t say this with one air of arrogance, just a statement of how things work – that if we’re not often laying down the effort, whether it’s Ebola or Zika virus or AIDS or development or a whole bunch of things – Power Africa, you name it – I don’t see China and Russia rushing to, in a charitable way or without some immediate economic gain or some geopolitical effort, just helping people, making a difference.
So I’d venture to say that I think it’s a reality that – it’s not just reality, it’s a fact that at no time in American history has any administration been more engaged on more issues of consequence in more places in the world and making a greater difference than we are today, whether it’s arms control or South China Sea or a disease or education or development or you name it. And I think everybody here ought to be really proud of what we have been able to do with respect to the concept of modern-day slavery. If you are one of those powerless people on one of those fishing vessels chained by the neck for two years, or you’re held in a sex trafficking house somewhere in the world and you don’t know your way out, this is the only opportunity for people and the only rescue and the only force fighting in a concerted way. So I thank everybody for being part of it. Thank you. (Applause.)