The Annual Trafficking in Persons Report is about modern day slavery and slave trading. It is appalling that in the twenty-first century hundreds of thousands of women, children, and men made vulnerable by civil conflict, dire economic circumstances, natural disasters or just their own desire for a better life are trafficked and exploited for the purposes of sex or forced labor. The deprivation of a human being's basic right to freedom is an affront to the ideals of liberty and human dignity cherished by people around the world.
The President, members of Congress, and I share a commitment to end modern day slavery. This report is an important diplomatic tool towards that goal. The report details international and U.S. efforts to end trafficking in persons, to protect and help victims, and prosecute those who treat people like commodities or keep them in slave-like conditions. The report emphasizes the human side of trafficking through victim stories and highlights innovative measures some countries are using to prevent trafficking in persons, prosecute those who traffic in human misery, and protect those most vulnerable to this transnational crime. The Department of Justice is issuing a report this Spring that will assess the United States Government's efforts to combat trafficking domestically.
This year, because of tough provisions in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, there is a cost for turning a blind eye to trafficking in persons. Some countries could potentially lose some forms of U.S. aid if their anti-trafficking efforts do not significantly improve between the issuance of this report and a sanction decision by later this autumn.
I hope that this report will be informative and lead countries to strengthen their efforts to combat trafficking in persons. All of us can and must do better in this struggle for human liberty and dignity.
Colin L. Powell