Session 1: Assessment of the Current Trends of Trafficking in Human Beings for All Forms of Exploitation

As prepared for delivery by Ambassador Luis CdeBaca
to the OSCE High-Level Conference
“Strengthening the OSCE Response to Trafficking in Human Beings”
Kyiv, June 10, 2013

The United States thanks the Chairman in Office for organizing this high-level event in Kyiv and for the initiative of selecting the issue of combating trafficking in persons as one of the priorities for 2013.  It’s a pleasure to join you today to take account of our progress in combating trafficking in persons and discuss how we can work together going forward.

We’re all here today because of a strongly shared commitment that spans the OSCE region to fight trafficking in persons – what we also call modern slavery.  Whether for forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation; whether affecting men, women, or children; whether victimizing immigrants or our own citizens, trafficking in persons affects all our countries – including the United States – and we all have a responsibility to fight it. What does trafficking in persons mean?   Consistent with the 2000 Trafficking in Persons Protocol (known as the Palermo Protocol), supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, trafficking in persons includes all of the conducts involved in recruiting or holding someone in compelled service – regardless of whether borders were crossed or even any movement took place,

Over the years, the OSCE has been at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking.  Indeed, OSCE participating States have expressed their political commitment to combat trafficking in persons in a number of Ministerial Council Decisions and associated documents.  The OSCE was one of the first regional multilateral organizations to adopt an Action Plan on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings on the heels of the 2000 Palermo Protocol.  The Action Plan is a very comprehensive document; one which participating States can rightly be proud of, and it has maintained its strategic value throughout the past decade.  However, as we continue to move forward and implement our commitments, our knowledge and expertise about this crime and its victims have evolved.  We, as states are taking note of changes and adapting.  And we must further adapt our national and collective responses. This conference in Kyiv provides us with the opportunity to highlight new trends to be taken in consideration for an Addendum to the Action Plan in order to strengthen and adapt our shared responses to human trafficking in the coming decade.

On behalf of the United States, I’d like to highlight the following issues for consideration in the development of the Addendum to the 2003 OSCE Plan of Action:

The United States has long been a party to the U.N. Trafficking in Persons Protocol (known as the Palermo Protocol), and our modern anti-trafficking law has been on the books for nearly 13 years.  Our law takes a broad view of trafficking, to include trafficking in persons that occurs entirely within our own borders – an approach consistent with the UN Protocol. Under U.S. law, and consistent with the Palermo Protocol, individuals may be trafficking victims regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked – in other words forced criminality- were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude.  Trafficking victims should not be treated as criminals.  We must help ensure that their needs are considered and that their stories are heard.  If victims feel they cannot trust authorities, or their decisions and actions are being judged, they are more likely to avoid these services and the criminal justice process altogether. This leads to insufficient or incomplete justice outcomes and increases the risk that the individual will return to the traffickers.  We must also keep in mind that human trafficking is a crime of exploitation that does not require transnational movement – or even any movement at all.  Therefore, it is imperative that we do not overlook human trafficking that occurs within our own borders.

The United States recognizes that there have been in recent years, credible reports of trafficking in persons for the removal of body parts and organs, while there are many more reported cases of illicit trafficking of organs and body parts. This conduct often exploits the most desperately poor and vulnerable people in our societies.  That is why, in the United States, we have made it a federal crime to sell or purchase organs.

Unlike “trafficking in persons for the removal of organs,” “trafficking in organs” is not included in the Protocol definition as a prohibited form of exploitation. However, if a trafficker compels a person (by the threat or use of force of other forms, including abduction, fraud, deception or abuse of power) into having an organ removed, that crime would come within the definition of trafficking in persons in the Protocol.  In this regard, we’re looking forward to the release of Special Representative Giammarinaro’s Occasional Paper concerning her research on trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal, to be launched at the Human Dimension Committee on 9 July.

When it comes to forced labor, we’re taking a hard look at the supply chains and labor sources behind the products we use every day. And what we’ve found should make us all think about the way this crime affects our lives. Because it’s likely that many of the products we use and rely on every day – from our morning coffee to our cotton sheets, from the smart phone in our pocket to the car we drive to work, from the clothes we wear to dinner, to the fish on our plate – were touched by forced labor somewhere along the line.

Stopping this problem in the supply chain requires greater awareness by consumers and new partnerships with the private sector – corporate leaders committed to making sure their goods and services are free from exploitation.  We’ve made the case that fighting exploitation is good business – indeed, Harvard Business School showed us that American consumers are often willing to pay a price premium if they know what they’re buying hasn’t been tainted by modern slavery.  And we’re helping develop codes of conduct and monitoring standards that will allow businesses to make the fight against modern slavery a part of their corporate policies.

One such initiative has been our partnership with the Fair Trade Fund to develop Slavery Footprint, an app that helps create a dialogue between consumers and producers.  Launched in the fall of 2011, Slavery Footprint has garnered interest from over 3.5 million people from nearly every country in the world.  Consumers are engaging companies and letting them know they care about every step in the supply chain for the goods they purchase.  Given this growing interest, strong anti-trafficking policies may provide companies with a competitive edge.

But as important as it is to support these new innovations, we’re going further. We also believe that we need to lead by example. The U.S. Government is one of the largest purchasers in the world, and if we’re going to tell companies that they should crack down on modern slavery, we must hold ourselves to the same standard.  That’s why the President signed an Executive Order early last year that provides more extensive prohibitions and protections for United States government purchases – to make sure American tax dollars are not being used to support human trafficking.  As governments, we must all consider adopting “zero-tolerance” policies in our own procurement of goods and services.

In the United States, we have also focused recent efforts on the potential abuse of domestic workers of foreign diplomats.  We have seen cases of abuse in the past, and we are taking steps to make sure domestic workers accompanying diplomatic personnel to the United States understand their rights and enjoy certain protections.  Recent innovations include prohibiting the deduction of food and lodging from wages which must be paid into bank accounts, by checks or direct deposit, and educating the diplomatic corps that withholding a worker’s passport could be evidence of trafficking in persons.  In November 2012, Secretary Clinton launched what is proposed to be annual Department of State briefing for foreign domestic workers employed by diplomatic mission personnel in the Washington, D.C. area; it was attended by more than 300 workers who were briefed on the their rights and provided with contact information should they need assistance.

Our approach tracks with the recommendations of the new ILO Convention 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers.  This Convention and its Recommendation (#201) are important tools for protecting the rights of domestic workers around the world, including those employed by diplomatic personnel, and helping to prevent domestic servitude.  In this regard, we gratefully acknowledge the trailblazing efforts of Special Representative Giammarinaro to highlight the problem of domestic servitude over the past several years.  We hope that the series of workshops currently being conducted on “Prevention of trafficking of human beings for domestic servitude in diplomatic households” – the second of which is taking place here in Kyiv in the next couple of days – not only will provide an opportunity for states to exchange best practices, but will also inspire concrete recommendations for the Addendum.  As we know, these workers – overwhelmingly women – are a particularly vulnerable population.

The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to enhance protection efforts for victims of trafficking.  In September of last year, President Obama announced the development of the first-ever Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States.  This five-year plan is being guided by three federal agencies – the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services – and incorporates efforts and commitments by many federal agencies, including the State Department.  The plan, which was released publicly for comment on April 9, has four goals: 1) increase coordination and collaboration at the national, state, tribal and local levels; 2) increase awareness about human trafficking among key governmental and community leaders and the general public; 3) increase victim identification and availability of services for victims throughout the United States; and, 4) promote effective, culturally-appropriate, trauma-informed services that improve the short and long-term health, safety and well-being outcomes of victims, regardless of their nationality, race, gender, age, religion or disability.  When completed in the fall of 2013, the plan will be the first-ever comprehensive federal plan to coordinate and strengthen services for trafficking victims in the United States.  Of course, we continue to offer immigration relief to foreign victims of trafficking and certain members of their families.  Under our system, neither testimony against the traffickers nor their convictions are required to be eligible for this relief.

Now a plan for survivors is nothing if the victims are not effectively identified.  To this end identifying the vulnerable populations and training whoever comes in contact with them in the course of their work is key.  It is also important to expand our views on who is vulnerable: yes, illegal migrants and persons living in poverty are vulnerable – we know it.  So are ethnic minorities (including indigenous people, Roma and Sinti, etc.), unaccompanied minors and separated children, runaway and street children, persons with disabilities, and dysfunctional families.  There are also particular sectors that we should look at, such as domestic service, agriculture, construction, fishing, beauty parlors, the garment industry, as well as the hospitality and tourism and travel sectors.

Finally, a word about collaboration:  at the national, regional and intra-regional level for a true global effort. “Partnership” – or the 4th “P” – and collaboration among all stakeholders in this effort – are essential to finding new solutions.  Cooperation of the OSCE with its Asian and Mediterranean Partners should also be strengthened, especially in the areas of labor trafficking, national referral mechanisms, and assistance to victims.  Such efforts could build on the Rome Seminar with Mediterranean Partners in February, as well as the Conference of the Asian Partners held in Adelaide, Australia in March 2013.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank SR Giammarinaro for unrelenting efforts over the past several years.  Through her work, her travels and publications she plays a pivotal role in advancing the fight against human trafficking inside and outside of the OSCE region.  We are looking forward to the publication of her paper presented at a side event with UNODC at the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on 25 April on the effective implementation of the non-punishment provision with regard to victims of trafficking.

We are also looking forward to hearing about the results of research on trafficking in cases amounting to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, to be launched at a side event at the upcoming Alliance against Trafficking in Persons conference later this month.

The next few days – and here I’m including the Chair in Office-hosted workshop on domestic servitude in diplomatic households – will no doubt be very productive in providing input for the Plan of Action Addendum.  The United States looks forward to actively collaborating in the development of such an Addendum in the next coming weeks.

Thank you.