Response to the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
December 19, 2013

The United States warmly welcomes back Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Maria Grazia Giammarinaro to the Permanent Council today.  We applaud you and your colleagues for your tireless efforts to combat modern slavery in the OSCE region.

Ending modern slavery remains a priority of my government, and must remain a priority of this Organization.  Trafficking in human beings cuts across the OSCE’s three dimensions and is a very real threat to our common security.

Ms. Giammarinaro, the work of your office is critical to our common effort to address this threat.  Your research efforts and regular training seminars are important channels for sharing good practices to spread throughout the OSCE region.  Your training sessions for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol Departments on the heightened trafficking risk faced by domestic servants in diplomatic households have been an important component of the international effort to protect this uniquely vulnerable population.  We commend your calls for a “second wave” of efforts to address new challenges posed by human trafficking, as well as your efforts to strengthen the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons.

Within the OSCE, we have much to learn from each other’s efforts to prosecute traffickers, protect trafficked victims, and, ultimately, to prevent trafficking from occurring in the first place.  We depend on your office, Ms. Giammarinaro, to help spread these good practices.  Our host, Austria, recently implemented a new law that allows trafficking victims unlimited access to the Austrian labor market, which will significantly assist victim recovery and rehabilitation.  The Norwegian government has adopted a comprehensive victim-centered approach in its anti-trafficking efforts, offering diverse victim services through a robust partnership between local governments and NGOs.  And last year, Macedonia gave us all a clear example of government official accountability by convicting 20 trafficking offenders and prosecuting several new cases.  These are but a few examples of the many good practices that participating States have developed in the fight against human trafficking.

Unfortunately, not every participating State is in full compliance with its international obligations regarding trafficking in human beings.  The government of Uzbekistan subjects its citizens to forced labor in the annual cotton harvest, although we note some progress in its recent cooperation with the International Labor Organization and the government’s efforts to keep children under 15 years of age out of the fields.  Russia continues to struggle to provide victim care despite having signed a new CIS Program of Co-operation against Trafficking in Persons.  We also call on the government of Belarus to demonstrate commitment to its promising statements on combating trafficking by fully implementing its national action plan.  The same can be said of other OSCE participating States.  The time has come to move beyond the planning stage and into tangible actions to reduce vulnerability, prosecute traffickers, and protect victims.

In closing, we want to thank you, Ms. Giammarinaro, and your entire team for the contributions you made to support the adoption in Kyiv of the Addendum to the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings.  Your office’s expertise was instrumental in our ability to come to consensus on an important document that advances the cause of fighting modern slavery.  We wish you and your office continued success in your endeavors, and you can count on our complete support.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.