Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Secretary of State
The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.
Many of the survivors are women and girls, and so as chair of the council this is particularly important to me to struggle to figure out new and innovative ways to avoid the atrocities of human trafficking. But first, I’d like to begin by emphasizing that sexual assault is intolerable in any forms, and I want to begin the meeting by mentioning sexual assault in the military, because of course, we have to work on getting our own house in order.
Just yesterday, President Obama met with the top military leaders, including, of course, Secretary Hagel, and his entire national security team to focus on what we can do to make it clear that sexual assault is a crime and it will not be tolerated, particularly within our own military. It was a productive meeting, and moving forward it is clear that both the White House, the National Security team, and our military leaders are determined to make this a first priority. The only way we are going to maintain a world-class military is if this is not a side issue but is a central issue to the core function of our military. Last week – Tina Tchen is just joining us, who is the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls – and I hosted a meeting with a number of senators and House members, bipartisan, focusing on legislative strategies to help provide the military with the tools that they need to crack down on this crime as well. So we will be exploring both legislative and executive solutions.
So now let me turn to trafficking. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many survivors of human trafficking. I visited a center called FAIR Girls right here in DC. They have several offices, but one of them right here, and spending time with these girls, many of them who have suffered atrocities beginning at a young age and endured them for years, are benefitting from the program at FAIR Girls. FAIR stands for Free, Aware, Inspired, and Restored, which I think is a perfect acronym for what the service that they are providing to these young women. And it’s remarkable to see the progress in just a year that these girls have made. I visited the center’s annual celebration gala just last week, and many of the young girls that were so fragile a year ago are already beginning to thrive. And so it reminds me each and every day of the very important work that we are all doing to address this issue.
Last September, President Obama devoted his entire address at the Clinton Global Initiative to the evil – that’s what he called it – the evil of human trafficking. And his message that day was simple, and I quote: “To the survivors, 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.” The work that we do each and every day reinforces that very core message, and we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in this last year and so I’m looking forward to today’s presentations because you’ll have the chance to talk not just about what we’ve accomplished, which is important, but also the road ahead and what we’re going to continue to do to stay vigilant on this issue as we prevent trafficking, protect victims, prosecute offenders, and partner with civil society both here at home as well as around the world. And so I look forward to hearing from each of you.
And now I have the pleasure of introducing our Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Welcome, Denis.
MR. MCDONOUGH: Thank you, Valerie, and it’s good to see all our colleagues here, and thanks very much for this opportunity. As I look back a year ago when we met and consider all the stuff that we’ve accomplished since then, I feel quite proud of that, but also I’m very proud of the work of the team around here, in particular our colleagues at State but not only. Everybody’s got a piece of this action.
Obviously, the President, as he laid out in his speech at the UN, remains very committed to fighting human trafficking areas. As with much of our agenda, as we open the second term here, renewed energy on this topic and particularly since the President tasked us as this working group or this task force last year to identify administrative actions that we could take internationally and domestically to combat trafficking, things that we can do of our own accord and with our own authorities.
So over the past year, the Executive Branch has accomplished important goals to name – let me just name a couple of those. One is the presidential executive order to strengthen our federal government’s existing zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking in government contracting, and that’s currently being implemented by the development of regulations here in OMB to address overseas contracting, agency training, and interagency analysis.
Two, the development of comprehensive, cross-government victims services strategic action plan that outlines additional steps that government would take in the next five years to better protect and support victims. The plan has been released for public comment and will be finalized by September of this year.
Third, several public-private partnerships to increase services to survivors here and abroad and to provide cutting-edge technology tools for survivors and law enforcement. Let me in particular underscore the work of Todd Park and the interagency technology gurus in this regard. The briefing that Todd gave the President in the Oval Office, I think was quite – not only quite compelling but a nice byline – or a nice topline which said we’re going to use the technology to get the bad guys. So I thought that was pretty good.
Lastly, the launch of two new initiatives, the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Campus Challenge and Made in a Free World, both efforts to spur awareness on college campuses and among consumers and suppliers throughout the supply chain.
So the goal of today’s meeting is to recommit the Executive Branch to continuing to act and – think and act broadly and creatively to eliminate human trafficking. I think we’ve made a good head start on that, and this is a good opportunity for us to continue it. So I want to just say thanks to the whole team for that effort.
And Mr. Secretary, I think we’re going to go to you next.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Denis. First of all, Valerie, thank you for your chairmanship and leadership on issues with respect to women and girls, and particularly this issue. I appreciate your convening us here at the White House. And Denis, thank you very much for getting over here and taking time to be part of this effort.
As we all know, we’re kind of running under a very tight clock here, and this is a terrific opportunity to have a kind of summary view of everything and a sharing of what everybody is doing, and in the conglomerate there’s really a very powerful message here. I’m thrilled to chair this for the first time. As everybody knows, we have a terrific support team at State who have been working on this, led by our good ambassador, Luis CdeBaca, and thank you for your efforts, Luis.
This is an issue that I first kind of came across when I was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and I was just stunned by the stories, the examples of the evil that Valerie just referred to and the President talked about. It is nothing less than the most predatory, extraordinarily abusive modern slavery that you could conceivably imagine. And the stories, the instances of young girls, some on occasion less than in their teens, most often in teens and upwards, women, the degradation, the depravity, not just in terms of sex traffic and sex trade but also labor, in the labor market. And there are so many good efforts that are going on here.
So what we hope to achieve, what we will achieve through this sharing, is the telling of a story that the world really needs to understand. And I think America should be very, very proud of the efforts that the President has put together and led and which are manifested at this table, where you have cabinet secretaries of major agencies of our government and other agencies that have all come together in, frankly, one of the better examples of coordination and accomplishment. So I think there’s much to be proud of here.
Everybody here understands the impact of human trafficking. I mean, it tears apart communities, tears apart families, challenges, rule of law, not to mention that it is a moral obscenity. And we have seen a recent example in a city in America where people for 10 years, three women, were held in captivity. It can happen in people’s neighborhoods and does, and it happens in all kinds of different ways. I learned a lot about this when I was a prosecutor, and I began one of the first victim witness assistance programs in America because so many people were being victimized twice, once by the crime and then again by the system. And what we’re doing here, I think is proving that we can push the proverbial rock up the hill and actually get it over the top and make good things happen.
The Obama Administration has – I can say this because I’m new to it – put together an unprecedented, absolutely unprecedented effort that is represented at this table. And so the stories today of what each agency is going – and we invite, obviously, our livestream audience to sort of really focus in on it – is a tremendous story of governance actually working and of people achieving their goals. And while there would just be an encapsulated snapshot of what that is, I think it’s one that tells a terrific story.
This is the concern of law enforcement, but it’s also the concern of diplomacy, of healthcare providers, of immigration officials, of all government, and that’s why this is such a representative table. The only way to ensure an adequate outcome in this kind of a challenge is to have the kind of cross-government holistic approach that is represented here. So I want to start my chairmanship by pledging my complete commitment to our whole-of-government approach and ask that every single one of you just continue to champion this in the way that you have been.
All of us understand also that government alone can’t do this. We just can’t do this alone, which is why one of the awards we’re giving today is to the private sector because we recognize the criticality of the private sector being involved – all employers, all components of the private sector particularly.
So all the stakeholders have to come to here to this initiative, and we’re going to do everything in our power to reach out to them. And we will support new approaches, new practices to spur action and accelerate our progress on this issue, which though considerable, every single one of us knows 27 million women, girls, people – not always women and girls incidentally, as we know. In the fishing industry in other parts of the world, people are just pressed in as they were hundreds of years ago to forced labor. So there’s an enormous challenge for all of us. America under the Obama Administration and the President’s leadership is setting a moral example here, a standard of applying conscience to governance, which I think really stands out.
It’s our pleasure here today, and I’m excited to present the first ever Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. I’d like to welcome Florrie Burke and Tammy Lee Stanoch, who join us today, and ask them if they’d stand. Come up and join me at the podium. Florrie Burke has been a pioneer in this movement from its very earliest days, and I talked a moment ago about victims-centered approach, putting the rights and needs of victims first when you deal with this kind of crime. The fact that we do that really is because of Florrie and her leadership. Over the past 15 years she has been working tirelessly as an advocate in the field to protect victims and help survivors get their lives back on track. And at the same time she’s trained service providers and first responders around the world in order to recognize and respond to this crime.
So I can say without any question, Florrie, you are a hero, a true hero. We are grateful for your remarkable leadership and it’s our honor to be able to present you this first ever presidential award. Would you read the citation, Mr. Ambassador?
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: “For her sustained dedication and unparalleled leadership in combatting modern slavery through the development and delivery of comprehensive services, the empowerment of survivors to move from slavery to independence, and the transformation of policy to eradicate all forms of human trafficking.” Ms. Florrie Burke. (Applause.)
(The award was presented.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well done. I was just explaining to her the snaps on that are very hard – (laughter). I was sort of hoping that it stays. (Laughter.)
Tammy Lee Stanoch is the Vice President for Corporate Affairs for the global hospitality and travel company Carlson. Carlson is an amazing company in Minneapolis, in 150 countries, 2,200 restaurants and hotels, and they have been an amazing leader. And fighting human trafficking is just part of the way that they do business, and it has been for a long time. We’re proud of that.
Modern slavery is an enormous issue within the tourism industry, and it has been for a long time. If you work for Carlson, though, you have the tools to recognize human trafficking when you see it, and that’s because of their proactive leadership in order to make sure that their employees do that. They are pushing their corporate partners to deal with this problem, and they are exactly the kind of private sector leader that we need in order to win this fight. So thank you very, very much.
Would you step forward, and it would be my honor to present you with this recognition, the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts in Combatting Trafficking.
MS. STANOCH: Thank you, Secretary Kerry.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much.
(The award was presented.)
MS. STANOCH: Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Congratulations, Tammy and Florrie. And we ask you both if you could remain for the rest (inaudible) invite you to be part of it for certain, and look forward to a very productive conversation today. As I mentioned, we are sort of under the gun. I know everybody is prepared to do that. But I think it provides the kind of energy to it in a way as we proceed through it, and I know everybody would be interested in what everybody else is doing.
So my pleasure to introduce Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who heads our Office to Monitor and Control Trafficking in Persons. Luis, thank you so much for your leadership.
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your clear commitment to the fight against modern slavery. This time of year there are a lot of dedicated abolitionists burning the midnight oil at the State Department’s Trafficking Office, embassies around the world, and in our interagency partners. We’re about a month away from releasing the Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
As we look at what governments around the world, including the United States, are doing to respond to this crime, we see a common indicator of success. Whether a country with a highly developed and sophisticated judicial system or a country hampered by a lack of resources, success correlates with the political will and strong coordination among agencies. The medal that was just presented, the symbolism of the eagle breaking the chains, those chains don’t break by themselves. It takes everyone working across government to bring freedom to those people.
In his speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King characterized emancipation as a blank check, sadly never cashed. Now, with the example of President Obama and the leadership of all at this table, let this be the year when we make a serious down payment on that account.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Ambassador. We are going to focus on four areas. We’re running a little behind, so I’m going to cut my own comments here quickly. But just to say that we plan to launch a new in-person registration process to deal with some of the domestic workers that come over with respect to our diplomats and people abroad. Believe it or not, there have been some bad situations there. And we’re getting partnership – finalized a partnership with the law firm DLA Piper because we want to provide legal services to people in various parts of the world, and they’ve agreed to try to help do that.
So that’s a quick run over a couple of things that we’re doing, among others. Let me turn to Cecilia Munoz – Munoz – who will highlight the importance of a comprehensive victim approach.
MS. MUNOZ: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. And let me just add my thanks to the whole group for all the hard work that everyone’s been doing over the past year. As has already been said, this is tremendously important work. It’s an honor to be part of it. And to just refer to what Secretary Kerry just spoke of as the rolling a proverbial rock uphill, the rock in a sense is the arduous work of working all across the government in a coordinated way, in a way that allows us to pull together what is a comprehensive approach, an integrated approach, to really make sure that we create a whole which is greater than the sum of the parts that all of the agencies are contributing. So I’m going to highlight three developments that I hope will facilitate that approach.
First, you heard Denis mention the President’s directive that his Administration create a Victim Services Strategic Action Plan. And under the leadership of HHS, DHS, and DOJ, really every agency around this table has participated in developing this action plan to strengthen services for victims of trafficking. The idea, again, is for the plan to be comprehensive, for it to be action-oriented, and to make sure that it meets the needs of all victims. So I look forward to hearing more about that from the Attorney General and from Secretary Sebelius today.
Another goal that the President highlighted is the creation of the first-ever interagency national human trafficking assessment. So this really means mobilizing a broad set of interagency stakeholders to begin what is actually an extraordinary task of culling reams of trafficking related information that’s really scattered all across the federal government to make sure that we can analyze it with an eye towards assessing the domestic dimensions of the problem and putting forth recommendations. So that’s going to help us as a federal government better allocate law enforcement resources, identifying hot spots where we see trafficking activity across the United States, and revealing transit patterns that can help us identify what’s going on with victim recruitment and exploitation.
And then finally, I should just note that we received a report of recommendations from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on ways that the Federal Government can strengthen its work and its partnerships with communities across the country in fighting trafficking. You heard the Secretary say we can’t expect to do this effectively alone as a Federal Government; we need as many partners as possible.
And among the recommendations, the council suggested that the Federal Government identify gaps in services and programs and identify philanthropic and community partners to fill those gaps. And they also urge that a single trafficking hotline be designated as the primary hotline that’s promoted to the public. So there is a full report with 10 recommendations that I commend the group. We are reviewing them and look forward to working with the council, and of course look forward to continuing to work with all of you.
There’s a lot of good work that’s happened since this group met last year. We all know there’s a lot more to do, and we look forward to being part of those efforts. Thanks.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, Cecilia, very, very much. Appreciate it. And indeed, we do look forward to hearing from the Attorney General.
ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to serve and support victims of human trafficking crimes. This is, has been, and will be a priority for this Department of Justice. DOJ’s victims of office crimes – Office of Victims of Crime has been a critical leader in advancing this work through OVC’s strategic planning effort for crime victim services. And this is an effort that’s known as Vision 21. We’ve identified the need for comprehensive legal services for all victims, including victims of human trafficking.
Too often crime victims are unable to realize the full measure of justice because they simply don’t have access to the legal services that they need. In response, OVC is developing a really comprehensive capacity-building effort to expand the availability of pro bono legal assistance for victims of crime. We’re bringing together the full array of legal service providers and crime victim services to create really what is an integrated network that will support victims of crime from the moment of victimization until they are made whole again. Already OVC has identified six pilot sites across the country to implement this initiative, and these sites will initially focus on victims of human trafficking.
Now, beyond this work, we’re strengthening and expanding victim law. This is OVC’s comprehensive website that maintains a searchable database of federal, state, and tribal victim’s rights laws and pertinent case law. OVC will expand victim watch to include information on rights and precedent-setting case law relevant to human trafficking victims. Victim law will also serve as a critical resource for our pro bono and nonprofit legal service partners who may not have access to expensive online case research services. And in addition, as our new strategic action plan makes clear, we must continue to invest in research and work to identify evidence-based practices for combating trafficking (inaudible). And to this end, the Department’s National Institute of Justice is supporting really cutting-edge research on the prevalence and the patterns of both labor and sex trafficking. And we’re striving to finally answer the critical question: Exactly how many trafficking victims are there in the United States? We don’t know that. We don’t know that just yet.
NIJ is also supporting evaluation studies to develop best practices in victim identification screening and services, and we’re working to ensure that we can provide help in a manner that’s both adequate and effective. So together, OVC, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the FBI are also continuing to offer state-of-the-art training and technical assistance to communities throughout the country, including Justice Department-funded and U.S. Attorney-led anti-human trafficking task forces.
So moving forward, we plan to increase strategic and operational coordination with the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services and we intend to release a comprehensive process map of Federal Government services to identify potential resource gaps. In close cooperation with the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, we are working to provide federal agencies with geography-based information on current services, formal collaborations, and also available law enforcement data, and this will help to identify areas for improvement.
In addition, the Department will offer training and technical assistance to a variety of stakeholders, including first responders, law enforcement officials, organizations that work with at-risk youth, and victims of domestic and sexual – domestic violence and sexual assault.
And finally, I want to acknowledge the critical role that the FBI plays in advancing our victim services efforts. The FBI’s Civil Rights unit and its Office for Victim Assistance really developed a protocol for agents who are working with victim specialists during human trafficking investigations. And this illustrates the victim-centered approach that the FBI really now employs in such investigations. By developing brochures in various languages to give to victims of human trafficking with limited English proficiency, the FBI has also helped to enhance communication with victims during the investigation meant to foster greater participation in the entire criminal justice process. So that’s, I think, gives you an overview of where we are with regard to how we are approaching this whole question of victim services.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, General. Appreciate that. And obviously, HHS is at the middle of all of this when it comes to victim services. Secretary Sebelius.
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, thank you, Secretary Kerry. And I want to thank you for your leadership, picking up the mantle of this really important initiative. And certainly the White House partners are focused and dedicated to this as a huge priority.
We certainly agree with your assessment that the worst of all worlds is to have the victims of trafficking be revictimized again by not having the services and support to rebuild and recover. So that’s really been our focus, and we have a very dedicated team at the Department of Health and Human Services, really led by our Agency for Children and Families, but coordinating across the Department because these victims need a whole variety of services.
I want to give you a couple of examples of what has happened, and I think it gives an indication that this effort is really beginning to pay off. So our hotline fielded more than 20,000 calls in Fiscal 2012, which is a 74 percent increase over the calls in 2010, a sign that more victims are reaching out, more community members are aware, and more people are actually seeking help, and that’s very good news. We also recognize that when survivors reach out, we have to do a better job connecting them with comprehensive services. So this past year we’ve been working to ensure the community’s working with victims were able to access legal services, improve the quality and access to traditional medical services, but also mental health services, which often are so critical to survivors.
To build on the work, the President’s budget reflects $10 million in new investments to our Department to strengthen and specialize services to victims of domestic human trafficking, bringing greater parity to the national support structure. We’ve also paid close attention to child welfare and homeless youth programs and working on guidance that strengthens protections for domestic victims of child sex trafficking, one of the most horrific aspects of this terrible crime. The guidance helps child protection professionals across the country by enhancing their ability to identify and better serve victims of child trafficking, and we are co-chairing, as has been mentioned, with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security a process to develop a comprehensive federal plan.
Now, a lot of you in this room have participated in that planning strategy. The Federal Strategic Action Plan was released by the White House last month and is open for public comment until May 24th. And we have already received more than 100 comments and ideas and look forward actually receiving more. So there’s an innovative online platform designed to enhance public engagement and maximize transparency. We’ll take those comments and finalize the plan later this year and we are confident that it will mark an historic step, really, to make a comprehensive approach to combat human trafficking.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Madam Secretary, very, very much. David Hayes of the Department of the Interior. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY HAYES: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. There are two areas where the Department of the Interior is focusing on human trafficking in particular. One is in Indian country. There’s a great concern in Indian country about abuse of women and trafficking, and in 2011 a human trafficking working group was set up for Indian country. It’s developed a protocol to address the reporting and investigation of sex trafficking violations. And last year, it secured, with the Department of Justice’s cooperation, a prosecution of a man for 16 counts of sex trafficking in Indian country. The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently also has hired six specialists to work in Victims Services. These folks are trained to recognize violations of sex trafficking and provide community response for shelter and for treatment and other needs of victims.
The other area where we’re focusing in the Interior Department is in our insular areas. The Commonwealth, for example, of Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, Palau, American Samoa – these are all under our jurisdiction. There’s a very bad history here. Things are better now, but we are monitoring the situation carefully, and our office of Insular Affairs has recently hired a specialist to work, in particular, with the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands with a human trafficking intervention coalition there. And they work to provide visa services to women who are in trouble so that they can be protected from inappropriate situations. So we appreciate the opportunity to work across government cooperatively with our many colleagues on these important fronts.
SECRETARY KERRY: David, thank you very much. And I know you are facing some historic challenges, so we really appreciate your efforts in that area.
Now Seth Harris, Acting Secretary of Labor.
SECRETARY HARRIS: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Valerie. (Inaudible.) Let me say how much we appreciate our partnership with Ambassador Cdebaca and his office, Mr. Secretary.
We know that affording victims of human trafficking the tools that they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency is a critical component of the victim services continuum, and we know that helping them to find jobs in an important part of economic self-sufficiency. And our colleagues at HHS and DOJ fund some terrific programs that provide a range of services to survivors. And those services include employment and training services, but those services are somewhat time-limited, and so the survivor sometimes needs additional services. And one resource for those services, particularly in local communities, is the Labor Department’s network of American Job Centers, which are one-stop centers around the country that provide employment and training services ranging from access to computers, and resonate advice and local labor market information, workshops, job training services, the whole spectrum of job services.
So the challenge that we are facing is how to integrate the DOJ-HHS funded programs with our programs so that survivors have seamless services from the Federal Government without having to work through all the complexities of our programs. So we are working to complement and engage with the terrific work of our colleagues in the other departments by enhancing coordination and awareness that exists between these multiple systems.
We’ve also taken steps to enhance the public workforce system’s – our system’s – ability to deliver these services. We’ve given out guidance to the system, and we’re following up with webinars and other training efforts and formal conference calls. The entire effort is geared towards getting those who are working DOJ and HHS at the front end of the victims’ services continuum to be fully integrated with our system to provide deeper services where they are necessary and helpful.
Lastly, let me just say we most typically encounter trafficking when we’re enforcing important laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage, and overtime protections. And so our wage and our (inaudible) investigators who are in – worked all across the United States are often the first set of eyes on a circumstance that may actually suggest that there has been trafficking. So what we have undertaken to do is to train those investigators to understand better what other services are available apart from those that we provide in the Labor Department, and how to refer out survivors we’ve found so that they can get full continuum for services that they need.
SECRETARY KERRY: Seth, thank you very much. I’ve got a little note here saying we’re still running a little behind, so if anybody has that marvelous ability to edit on the run – (laughter) – we welcome that talent.
The next here is rule of law. Suffice it to say, it is a top foreign policy priority and we press it in every respect in intelligence gathering, law enforcement, cross-country cooperation. We then want to turn quickly to our law enforcement folks to really fill us in on this, and we’re going to turn to Tony Blinken representing NSA.
MR. BLINKEN: Let me just start by thank you for your personal commitment to this cause. It makes a very big difference. You’re exactly right that a key to our approach to combatting trafficking is promoting effective legal regimes and law enforcement abroad and also at home. The Attorney General, my colleagues in the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, I think will talk to some of the specifics that we’ve engaged in.
Let me just take a moment to describe some of the efforts we’ve been making internationally over the past year. And I think it’s fair to say that we’ve witnessed great strides over the past year, led by the President and his direct engagement with leaders of foreign governments in this effort. A couple of examples: The President made a historic visit to Burma last November, and combatting human trafficking was very much a part of the agenda with the Burmese President Thein Sein. In the days leading up to the visit, the U.S. and the Burmese Governments announced a new joint plan on trafficking in persons to guide our cooperation on this issues. So this is a very concrete demonstration, the fact that we can use the President’s engagements abroad to leverage progress on these issues.
On that very same trip, which he made to other countries in East Asia, he met with the heads of state of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and they agreed to improve cooperative efforts to combat trafficking, including by harmonizing legal frameworks and increasing cross-border investigations.
And then just this past March here at the White House, the President hosted the leaders of Sierra Leone, Malawi, Senegal, and Cape Verde, and that was another opportunity for us to underscore our commitment to working with strong and emerging African nations on the question of trafficking. This is also translating into very concrete and tangible results from the very specific investigations that lead to prosecutions to actual changes in people – in countries’ legal codes.
Just two quick examples: Cameroon recently achieved its first-ever successful trafficking prosecution. An officer (inaudible) attended a State Department-funded police training program, and thereafter he successfully investigated a forced begging case that involved 98 children. He reunited the children who were between the ages of seven and twelve with their families. And those responsible are now serving time, 20 years of prison. And on a broader level, after intensified engagement with the Republic of Korea over the past year, that’s helped lead to the passage of a comprehensive (inaudible) criminal law prohibiting all forms of human trafficking for the first time. Looking forward, the President’s going to be using his engagements over the coming year to advance the cause and to make this very much a part of our dialogue with the two countries.
And then, of course, we’re looking forward to the upcoming release of the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report. This report, which assesses other nations’ progress in combatting human trafficking, and since 2010 our own progress, is a key tool to leverage progress. With that, let me turn it to the Attorney General.
ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: Thank you. Well, as part of the Department’s interagency collaboration with the Department of Labor and HHS, we’ve started something that’s known as the Anti-Trafficking Coordination team, or ACT team. And this collaboration has led us to create interagency teams of federal agents and prosecutors who worked to develop high-impact trafficking cases. We have six ACT teams around the countries. In partnership with DHS and DOL, we’ve also developed and continue to deliver intensive week-long advanced human trafficking training programs so that we can exchange expertise among national human trafficking experts.
And we’re also continuing to strengthen our U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative. This is a vital relationship that we have to make sure flourishes. Under this program, we’re developing bilateral investigations and prosecutions of sex traffickers who operate across the U.S. and Mexico borders, and it allows us to charge human traffickers in both the United States and in Mexico, to apprehend and extradite fugitive sex traffickers, to locate and rescue victims in both the United States and Mexico, and to continue to locate and recover victims killed or who are held by trafficking networks.
So the relationship there, as I said, is an extremely important one. We’ll also be using our FBI to develop cases. And since 2009, we have prosecuted more human trafficking cases than ever before. The FBI’s victim – the FBI’s Violent Crime Against Children section also makes important contributions, and particularly through the Innocence Lost Initiative. This focuses on investigation of the commercial sexual exploitation of children here in the United States. And between 2008 and 2012, this section also coordinated operation across country one through six. Now, these national law enforcement efforts were conducted over three- to five-day periods and safely recovered 328 child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and they resulted in the arrests of 430 suspects who engaged in this exploitation.
In addition, the FBI’s Civil Rights Unit has begun coordinating with the Criminal Justice Information Systems and Information Technology divisions to develop software to capture all human trafficking case data and to make this information available for uniform crime reporting statistics purposes. So this software in question will collect human trafficking data from law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S., and we expect to deploy it in the coming months.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Attorney General. Appreciate it.
Rand Beers, representing Homeland Security.
MR. BEERS: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. In 2010, Secretary Napolitano launched the DHS Blue Campaign, which is an effort to bring together throughout the Department our anti-human trafficking effort. Using DHS’s authority – investigative authority over these cases, we collect tips, we launch investigations, we rescue victims, and we assist in successful prosecutions.
In 2012, our Immigration and Customs Enforcement opened almost 900 cases, rescued over 300 trafficking victims, and made over 950 arrests. In turn, federal prosecutors obtained 380 convictions. That’s up from 300 arrests and 144 convictions in 2010, and I think represents the progress that we at DHS – but we in the interagency have all made in this area. Our Blue Campaign is very much linked in this area with the FBI and the Department of Justice and the human trafficking – Smuggling and Trafficking Center that we sponsor.
So we work together across the interagency. And as an example of that, on May 1st this interagency effort led to ICE’s arrest of 13 individuals in New York City, which may be part of a much larger transnational network of sex traffickers, which we will work together with the law enforcement – broader law enforcement community to take down.
In addition to that, we’ve been working with our state and local fusion centers to ensure that they are adequately trained in terms of the law enforcement needs and requirements to bring together the tips that will help start the investigations that will hopefully lead to the prosecutions. But we’re also working with our immigration responsibility to streamline the T visa application process and provide clearer guidance on how to obtain this particular non-immigrant visa, and we will continue to do this while ensuring the integrity of the immigration system.
We’ve also, through the Victim’s Assistance Program, served over 1,200 victims in the last year to ensure that they have access to medical and mental health and legal assistance while also including long-term immigration relief for them. As our frontline partners, and we work together, we are also looking at how in the immigration area we can strengthen the ability to provide for those victims to have continued presence in the United States and to have access to both the T and the U visas.
So these are some of the examples that we at DHS but really we as an interagency are doing, working together in this particular area, and we look forward to continuing that effort. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Rand. Appreciate it. Stephanie O’Sullivan, the principal deputy director of DNI.
MS. O’SULLIVAN: For the intelligence community, trafficking in persons is a national security issue contributing to national instability, corruption, and crime around the globe. To combat it, we have implemented priorities, intelligence priorities, in alignment with the threat outlined by the President. This has allowed us to leverage more resources against trafficking in persons and to put in place an on-course collection strategy. Our efforts mean that we can address our resources and our attention to the worst of offenders, many of whom could not be located without unique intelligence information.
We have already seen a measurable uptick in intelligence in human information and we will continue to look into ways to increase our analytic focus. The Department of State’s intelligence arm, the Bureau of Intelligence and Resources, is leading the way with a decision to devote an analyst to this issue. We look forward to delivering increased returns from these efforts in the coming year.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Stephanie. Appreciate that. We will move now – we’re going to jump ahead slightly to the Federal Procurement. I’ll just say one quick word about it. In my trips to Iraq and Afghanistan through the years, I’ve heard lots of stories about concerns of possible exploitation (inaudible) third-country nationals who are supporting our work overseas. And there are lots of stories of workers struggling under force and fraud and coercion and violence, fear, isolation, paying back impossible debts for all of these procurement components.
So I want to hand it over to Joe Jordan, the administrator for Procurement Policy at the White House, just so he can lead us into this.
MR. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. In my brief remarks, I want to do two things – first of all, update the group on our progress implementing the executive order that Denis mentioned around preventing trafficking in persons in our government supply chain, and then second, deliver a thank you to you and your teams, because as the Secretary mentioned at the top, this really has been a concerted and collaborative effort between all of your agencies.
As the single largest buyer of goods and services in the world, we bear a significant responsibility as the federal government to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are used to contribute to human trafficking. And we’ve long had the zero-tolerance policy. However, as the stories that Secretary Kerry mentioned, that we’ve heard around the table, more work is needed in this area to effectively prevent and redress trafficking throughout our federal government supply chain.
So last fall, the President issued an executive order that really sent an important message to would-be lawbreakers that the United States Government is serious in combating human trafficking throughout our supply chain with prime and sub-contractors. And this past winter, Congress sent an important message of its own with its legislation strengthening the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
An interagency team has drafted changes to our government-wide regulations in this area. We expect to have those regulations out for comment this summer. They’ll, first of all, clarify what constitutes trafficking in the federal procurement supply chain; secondly, prohibit contractors and sub-contractors from engaging in specific activities, such as confiscating employee identity documents or fraudulent recruiting practices, things of that nature; and third, will require contractors and sub-contractors to have compliance plans and certify that their employees do not engage in or become complicit to these human trafficking activities.
We held a public meeting earlier this spring to get comments from contractors as well as all the stakeholders in this area, and we’ve also initiated an effort – excuse me – to identify sectors or industries within the United States along with PTIF to – that may have a history of trafficking.
So again, thank you for this concerted and collaborative effort, and we look forward to implementing these regulations.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you, Joe. And I’ll just say we obviously all understand the tight budgets. We are going to do everything we can, and we’re committing to funding the things that we need to do through the State Department in order to keep on this. So I can promise you we will stay at that.
MR. JORDAN: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me turn to Deputy Secretary Ash Carter of DOD.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CARTER: Hi. Thanks, Mr. Secretary. Joe said that the U.S. Federal Government is the largest purchaser of goods and services – Department of Defense – within that is the largest purchaser of goods and services, and a great deal of it abroad, a great deal of it in association with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, really at unprecedented levels over the last few years. And we’ve had – we have really striven to be careful that no taxpayer dollars contribute to trafficking.
So the way you do that is to make sure that the contracts contain a provision. Just like they require the contractors to do all the other things, it requires them not to participate in trafficking. So you need to get the clause in the contract, then you need to oversee the contract and the execution of the contract. Just like every other provision of the contract, make sure that it is obeyed and that penalties are imposed when it’s not. And then ironically, some of these practices that we had established, Mr. Secretary, in association with overseas contingency contracting, we’ve brought home and applied them to contracts and their execution here in the States.
One last word. Just like everything else – and Valerie mentioned sexual assault – you have to – and we need to make sure that our people are aware of and understand that this is incompatible with the profession of arms and it’s incompatible with the reputation we want to have around the world, which is to be a force for good. So we have a number of training programs. We’re all required to take periodic training in trafficking and (inaudible) other things affronts to the dignity of the nation and the world. So we completely understand our responsibilities in this regard are predetermined.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we appreciate that very, very much, Ash. Thank you very much for that commitment. And it’s critical, obviously.
Needless to say, AID has a huge component of responsibility here. Raj Shah, thank you for being part of this.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Just three quick points. One is very akin to what Ash just described. We’ve implemented a code of conduct, and by the end of this year we’ll have trained all 9,600 of our team members around the world to enforce contract language that will ensure that American investment doesn’t lead to trafficking. We’ve focused in particular on disaster and conflict-affected areas, because we know it’s after the Haiti earthquake or after cyclones or weather events when things are most acute and most likely to go south.
Second, we’ve really expanded the range of results-oriented investments we’ve made in places where we know risks are very high. Just as one example, in the eastern Congo, in DRC, this past year we’ve expanded efforts and are now supporting 2,300 children who have been victims and who are being reintegrated back into communities, including 40 young boys that just a few weeks ago were recovered from armed groups there. And part of why this is more successful now is a public-private partnership with local mining companies and other interests that help us identify and expand the reach of more traditional NGOs. Those kinds of efforts, Afghanistan will be our largest new effort in this coming year. And we continue to expand investments in other parts of the world.
Lastly, we’ve had a real focus with Todd Park and others on public outreach efforts that can be at work here in the United States and around the world. One component of that was the launch of the CTIP Campus Challenge, which we launched at Pepperdine University this year. We’ve seen a huge thirst across universities in the United States and around the world. Young people are eager to come up with solutions and be part of the fight. We now have 2,300 students that are part of this effort. We’re expanding to more than 100 countries, including the first local campus challenge being conducted in the Ukraine.
And in addition to just expanding awareness, these are student groups coming up with some really innovative solutions. One is the creation of a social media-based victim identification database and public hotline for Africa. Another is a series of online tools to help consumers everywhere check product sourcing to ensure that it’s free from trafficking.
So we’re very excited about these types of efforts and engagements. And then, finally, Tony mentioned the President’s visit to Burma. One of our really important public-private partnerships has been with MTV, and through our efforts MTV has reached more than 300 million people through advertising and other forms. And we thought it was noteworthy that this past year, the largest public gathering in Burma was a MTV-sponsored concert to raise awareness amongst people there about the risks of trafficking, and more than 70,000 people gathered for the first time in a long time in downtown Rangoon to celebrate, go to the concert, and to learn a little bit.
So some of these efforts can work, and we’ve been expanding our efforts with strong support and strong partnership from across the government, and I’m proud to be a part of this.
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s great. Thank you very much, Raj. Appreciate it.
Michael Scuse, where – you’re on, Deputy Secretary USDA.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SCUSE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The United States Department of Agriculture recognizes that human trafficking is a critically important issue, and we’re glad to be here today to participate in this interagency (inaudible). And I look forward to having my team continue to work in partnership with experts from your agencies to identify opportunities for coordinated action while also engaging new areas in our Department in the fight against trafficking.
On April 12th, 2011, USDA published guidelines containing a key list of practices that should be considered by those who want to adopt a program to reduce child and forced labor in their supply chains. The Department of Labor is funding a pilot project to test those guidelines, and we are very appreciative of that. USDA issued Agriculture Acquisition Regulation Advisory Number 99 in August of 2011. This advisory requires USDA contracting officers to include management and workforce practices as a technical evaluation factor for all agricultural commodity purchases under the Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 15. USDA has also included specific references to the FAR clause on Combating Trafficking in Persons in the recent requests for proposals and in contracts awarded, and is exploring other steps that we can take to emphasize the seriousness of this issue.
We also look forward to working with the task force on joint training and information efforts to learn about ways to heighten the awareness of USDA’s field staff and detecting and reporting suspected violations of human trafficking.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Michael, very, very much.
We’re going to turn now to our third area, which is public outreach. Obviously, you can’t solve this problem alone, as I said earlier. You’ve got to reach out to everybody and create partners. So we’re going to begin that discussion in the private sector, media, the public here in the United States and abroad, everywhere. I’d like to turn to Todd Park, our United States Chief Technology Officer.
MR. PARK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. On July 25th of last year, the Council on Women and Girls, the Office of the Vice President, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy launched the Tech Versus Trafficking Initiative. Here at the White House, we convened a group of advocates, tech innovators, companies and non-profits, law enforcement leaders, and leaders from your agencies to brainstorm how to effectively harness and unleash the power of tech to end the evil of child sex trafficking in America.
Tech has, unfortunately, played a significant role in facilitating the sale of girls and women online for sex. And we all know that we cannot and should not cede that ground. We need to use the power of tech to fight back in powerful ways. And that’s what we called upon the July 25th summit attendees to do. And it was a call to action that the President amplified massively in his incredible speech at Clinton Global Initiative in September, in which called upon tech innovators to turn the tables on the traffickers. And as he said, just as they are now using tech and the internet to exploit their victims, we are going to harness tech to stop them.
What happened next was really quite remarkable. Tech innovators across America responded to the President’s call to action with enormous passion and ingenuity, building a whole array of remarkable new applications to help law enforcement find traffickers and help them out, identify and rescue victims, and help victims connect to services and health. Apps are now deployed in the field, being used, scaling, improving, and rescuing victims across the country. We showcased a number of these amazing apps at the White House Forum to Combat Trafficking on April 9th.
We continue to work with the tech innovative community across the country, nonprofits, and law enforcement to help further evolve the scale, the use of these apps and raise awareness about the evil atrocity of trafficking and the efforts to fight it in general, and we’re also working on ways to improve data information sharing to fight trafficking. As one example, and one important example, we’re working with New Jersey law enforcement, your agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector to help develop a coordinated program armed with the latest tech tools, like the ones we’ve been talking about and helping to build, to combat trafficking around the Super Bowl, which is, unfortunately, the largest sex trafficking day of the year in America. And in partnership with all of you and the private sector, nonprofits, advocates, everyone, we hope to make this Super Bowl into a day that becomes a major victory in the fight against trafficking.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good for you, Todd. That’s great. Thank you very much.
I’m going to turn now to Rand Beers.
MR. BEERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, again. As we’ve been talking, human trafficking is really a hidden crime, and Cleveland just indicates again to all of us the nature of that. We can’t have – expect our investigators to rescue victims and bring traffickers to justice unless we have people to tell us and help us focus on where those crimes are occurring. So one of the things we’ve tried to do at DHS is prioritize our training and awareness efforts. And you may have seen three new posters that we’ve put together on your way in. They’re also in your folders today.
But what I wanted to do, since a picture is worth a thousand words, is just show you a brand new public service announcement on the screen over here that we’ve put together, which really, I think, typifies the notion that this kind of trafficking really is a hidden crime (inaudible). Now, with the wonders of technology, Todd – (laughter) – we will, hopefully.
(The public service announcement is shown.)
…So this is part of our effort to just get people to focus on the things they don’t see in their normal, daily activity in both the labor and the sex trafficking and domestic servitude, which are the three principal areas that we need people to begin to think about in their everyday lives when they see people (inaudible). So as I said, this is part of our effort. For those of you online, you can go, as the ad said, to dhs.gov/bluecampaign to get more of this information and to get it out. And we’re going to make a major effort with the posters, to get them out into public places, where people can’t walk by without seeing. And an example to think about is supermarkets. Everybody goes to a supermarket.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.
MR. BEERS: Get it out, get people to see it. That’s what the focus is.
SECRETARY KERRY: Spectacular. Thank you. Very, very, very effective and very important. Thank you.
Secretary Ray LaHood, the Department of Transportation efforts.
SECRETARY LAHOOD: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. At DOT, we share the President’s commitment to ending human trafficking, and we have begun our efforts by training our 55,000 employees to make sure that they’re well-trained in – to look for human trafficking. I’ve taken the time to meet with the CEOs of the airlines to see if can get a commitment from them that they will train their employees.
And Secretary Napolitano and I signed an agreement with Amtrak recently for a training program for all Amtrak employees. We believe that if we can get employees in transportation, where we know people are being trafficked, to really identify the kind of activities that take place that we will be on the frontline of really beginning to stop this. And so we’re going to continue our efforts. We are also working with – through our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on the best way to detect human trafficking either by truck or bus, which we know takes place in many instances. And we’re partnering with DHS on the Blue Lighting Initiative.
And we think by training people in transportation at points all over the country and the world that we really have an opportunity to identify people and really be at the focal point of having the opportunity to stop it. And we look forward to continue to work with all on these efforts.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Let me just say that because of the pressure of time we have to jump over a number of presentations, and I apologize for that. I particularly want to thank the EOC. Thank you, David, very much for your work. They recently obtained the largest jury verdict in history of the agency in the tragic case of an exploration in the poultry industry, and we’re very grateful for your efforts there and congratulate you on that.
In addition, in the public outreach area, Secretary Sebelius was going to report on HHS efforts as well as Acting Secretary Seth Harris on a business toolkit. And finally Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary, was going to mention the significant efforts in the Department of Education, which is just critical, obviously. So I’m sorry that they weren’t able to be included. And maybe we can find some way to get all of that online so that those of you who are livestreaming with us will be able to catch up to it all.
I do want to turn to Valerie Jarrett to provide the White House perspective on the next steps, which are critical out of this. I would just say to everybody as I listen to this it bowls you over…
the degree to which there’s just an all-government effort going on here. It’s impressive and I would simply urge everybody to stay focused, and we’ll figure out how we can do one of these where we don’t have to skip over anybody.
MS. JARRETT: Thank you, Secretary Kerry for your leadership and for your commitment to this initiative. And we’ll work with Todd Parks to figure out a way to get all of this online, because the information, I think, is indispensable. And I’m really heartened by this meeting, and I thought I would take a second just to summarize the ambitious course that we have ahead for the next year.
So I think the call to action that we all feel today is to focus on four areas: First, we will implement our existing commitments, such as finalizing the victims’ services strategies, finalizing the TIP and regulations and implementing appropriate recommendations from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Second, we’re going to continue to promote the rule of law to hold traffickers fully accountable. And we’ll do this by ensuring that law enforcement has the tools that they need at the state, local and federal and international levels. We’ll also launch pilot technology projects that aid law enforcement reach out to survivors in new and creative ways. Third, we’re going to continue to work to ensure that our entire federal supply chain is free of trafficked labor, and we’ll do this by fully implementing the President’s executive order both at home and abroad. And finally, we’ll develop a simple, straight-forward way for citizens to report possible instances of human trafficking, and we’ll reach out to the schools and the general public to make sure everyone has the resources that they need to stay vigilant and prevent their classmates, students, neighbors from being trafficked.
Our goal is to finish these up by September on the first anniversary of the President’s CG – Clinton Global Initiative speech. So on behalf of the President and the entire team here at the White House, please know that we are committed to working closely with each and every one of the agencies represented here as we try to achieve these goals and bring the comprehensive response that Secretary Kerry just mentioned to this important issue. I’m confident that we’ll make great steps forward to end human trafficking. And we just are delighted that you all made the time to be here today, and even more importantly, that you make it a priority – a top priority of your agencies throughout the year.
So thank you, Secretary Kerry and everyone who’s over there.
SECRETARY KERRY: That you Valerie. Thank you very much. I think everybody should feel good and depart here with a good sense of mission, recognizing that we are really talking about winning back for a whole – for millions of people, their fundamental freedom. And we talk about the freedom and values that drives us here, this is a chance for us to marry our interests and our values in the best of ways and end modern day slavery. I think the United States, President Obama’s leadership, are taking us in the right direction and we ought to be proud of it. Thank you all for being part of it. Thank you very much. We stand adjourned.