Letter from Secretary

Date: 01/27/2009 Description: Official photo of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton State Dept Photo

Dear Reader:

Since President Clinton issued the first U.S. Government policy against human trafficking in 1998, we have seen unprecedented forward movement around the world in the fight to end human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery. A majority of the world’s countries now have criminal legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking in persons, and global awareness has been immeasurably raised.

Yet much remains to be done, particularly in identifying and addressing the root causes of trafficking, including policies and practices that contribute to the trafficking of vulnerable populations. From girls denied schooling or coerced into under-aged marriages, to ethnic minorities without citizenship or birth registration, to migrant workers forced to work against their will by employers who abuse legal processes – the effectiveness of long-term prevention efforts will require us to look carefully at causal factors and commit to relevant reforms.

The ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report sheds light on the faces of modern-day slavery and on new facets of this global problem. The human trafficking phenomenon affects virtually every country, including the United States. In acknowledging America’s own struggle with modern-day slavery and slavery-related practices, we offer partnership. We call on every government to join us in working to build consensus and leverage resources to eliminate all forms of human trafficking. This year, there is new urgency in this call. As the ongoing financial crisis takes an increasing toll on many of the world’s migrants – who often risk everything for the slim hope of a better future for their families – too often they are ensnared by traffickers who exploit their desperation. We recognize their immense suffering, and we commit to aiding their rescue and recovery.

As we move forward to meet the challenges of today, I am committed to sharing the lessons learned from our past efforts, and I offer our collective expertise to collaborate with you in bringing relief to victims, justice to perpetrators, and hope to future generations currently in peril.

Bringing an end to the global trade in people is a priority for the United States in keeping with American values that place a premium on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. I am confident that together we can make a difference, all over the world, in the lives of people deprived of their freedom.

Hillary Rodham Clinton