Combating Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Department of State's Leadership During the Obama Administration
The U.S. Department of State leads the United States’ global engagement to combat human trafficking and supports the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts across the U.S. government. Within the State Department, and under the direction of Ambassador Susan Coppedge, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) partners with foreign governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern slavery.
This fact sheet offers a snapshot of the State Department’s accomplishments in tackling the crime of modern slavery during the Obama Administration. More information on the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and its work is available on the Department’s website.
3Ps: Prosecution, Protection, and Prevention
The Department employs a range of diplomatic and programmatic tools to advance the “3P” paradigm – prosecution, protection, and prevention.
- Department officials have urged foreign governments to improve their anti-trafficking efforts through the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and sustained diplomatic engagement in Washington, DC and overseas. The TIP Report has grown from covering 154 countries in 2008 to 188 today, and since 2010 has included an assessment of the United States anti-trafficking efforts to further advance U.S. diplomatic efforts worldwide. The Department has worked closely with governments to support the passage, amendment, and implementation of anti-trafficking laws. Since 2009, 194 pieces of anti-trafficking legislation have been passed in countries around the world. The most recent reporting period saw 238 percent more prosecutions and 58 percent more convictions and victims identified when compared to government-reported data from 2009.
- The Department’s TIP Office has awarded approximately $200 million to fund more than 265 projects worldwide to address both sex and labor trafficking. Currently, the TIP Office has approximately 100 ongoing projects in 70 countries, totaling more than $60 million. The TIP Office’s largest bilateral grants are through the Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership program, which works to enhance capacity and improve coordination of government and civil society efforts to combat child trafficking. The first CPC Partnership was signed, with the Government of Ghana, in June 2015.
- In December 2015, as President of the United Nations Security Council, the United States was instrumental in holding the first Security Council meeting dedicated to the issue of human trafficking in situations of conflict and called on Member States to improve implementation of obligations to criminalize, prevent, and otherwise detect and disrupt human trafficking in such times.
- The Department supports training of both U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials to better understand and actively combat human trafficking. During the Obama Administration, the International Law Enforcement Academy Program has trained more than 30,000 foreign counterparts in methods to fight transnational crime, including 4,500 officers on issues related to trafficking in persons. The Department also led an interagency initiative in 2014 to train approximately 2,000 U.S. government employees at 10 overseas posts to increase information-sharing related to trafficking between the United States and host countries.
- The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) established an anti-trafficking unit in 2011 to investigate trafficking cases involving visa or passport fraud, and since has expanded its mission by participating in trafficking task forces, conducting specialized anti-trafficking training, coordinating centralized case referrals, and working jointly with other law enforcement agencies, both overseas and across the United States, to combat this crime. These efforts and others, reflect our dedication to addressing a worldwide challenge and to increasing the prosecution of human traffickers, including those who exploit individuals in brothels, domestic work environments, and agricultural settings.
- During the Obama Administration, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s Return, Reintegration, and Family Reunification Program for Victims of Trafficking has helped 1,545 eligible family members join nearly 700 trafficking victims with T visa status in the United States and assisted 17 survivors to voluntarily return home.
- The TIP Office worked with the Department of Labor and Office of Management and Budget to develop tools and guidance to help the federal procurement workforce implement the anti-trafficking protections set forth by Executive Order 13627 and the Federal Acquisition Regulation. In 2014, the TIP Office also funded research by the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to expose abusive recruitment practices known to facilitate human trafficking, such as charging workers recruitment fees. This coordinated research included three stakeholder meetings and field surveys conducted in different countries and regions of the world.
- The Office of Protocol has augmented its work to help protect domestic workers of foreign mission personnel in the United States by implementing a system to track allegations of abuse, encouraging NGOs and attorneys to report cases, establishing additional requirements pertaining to the treatment of domestic workers, and briefing both accredited diplomats and domestic workers employed by foreign diplomatic personnel in the Washington, D.C. area to apprise them of their rights and responsibilities. In 2015, the Office of Protocol launched the In-Person Registration Program, which enhances protections for domestic workers. Registrations are currently taking place in the Washington, D.C. area and will soon be expanded throughout the United States.
- The Department led an interagency process to create a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet to inform applicants for certain nonimmigrant work visas about their rights in the United States and provide them the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (888-373-7888). Since the pamphlet’s creation in 2009, more than one million visa applicants coming to the United States have received a pamphlet, and more than 4,100 of those applicants have contacted the National Human Trafficking Hotline because of what they learned from the pamphlet. The Know Your Rights pamphlet, which incorporated input from civil society, including survivors of human trafficking, has been translated into more than 30 languages and is broadcast as an informational video in our consular waiting rooms around the world.
The Fourth P: Partnership
A “fourth P” – for partnership – serves as a complementary means to achieve progress across the 3Ps and enlist all segments of society in the fight against modern slavery.
- The Department in 2016 established a partnership with the NGO The Freedom Fund to enhance coordination of government and private donor anti-trafficking initiatives, with an initial focus on the seafood sector.
- The TIP Office and the NGO Verité developed and launched the Responsible Sourcing Tool, a comprehensive online resource to help federal procurement officials, contractors, and other companies understand the risks of human trafficking in global supply chains and develop systems to detect, prevent, and combat it.
- In 2012, President Obama announced the Partnership for Freedom, a multi-million dollar public-private partnership dedicated to spurring innovation in the fight against human trafficking. Since then, the Partnership has run two successful innovation challenges. The first challenge, Reimagine: Opportunity, awarded $1.8 million to support innovation in victim services. The Department formally joined the Partnership for Freedom for the second challenge, Rethink Supply Chains, which awarded $500,000 to mobilize the tech community to fight labor trafficking in global supply chains. The third challenge, Pathways to Freedom, which will launch in January, will challenge local communities to shift practices, policies, and perceptions so that all survivors of trafficking receive the respect, support, and opportunities they deserve.
- The TIP Office and New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s nonprofit affiliate that provides pro bono legal assistance in under-served regions globally, launched a public-private partnership in 2013 to increase the availability of pro bono legal resources to combat human trafficking. In 2016, the partners announced a package of model documents aimed at preventing the abuse of domestic workers, whose employment in private homes increases their vulnerability and isolation. The first two documents are a model contract and an addendum for domestic workers to use with their employers; the third is a memorandum of understanding between countries sending and receiving migrant domestic workers.
- Through a TIP Office grant, the NGO Made in a Free World developed Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives may intersect with modern slavery. Slavery Footprint has been visited by 25 million users in 190 countries since its launch in 2011.