SECRETARY CLINTON: Some of you already know Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who is our Ambassador and in charge of our human trafficking efforts and the office that runs it. Maria Otero is our Under Secretary for Democracy, Global Affairs here in the Department of State, and that’s the place where the Office to Combat Trafficking resides.
This is a yearly meeting that we take turns hosting. It happens to be the State Department’s turn. I don’t know who it goes to next year, but we do it every year for the purpose of taking stock and seeing where we are in our fight against human trafficking, both trafficking for sex trade purposes and trafficking for forced labor.
And this comes out of the original legislation – which is now 10 years old – back in 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, so we’re celebrating the 10th
anniversary. And it’s been a priority first of the Clinton Administration, then of the Bush Administration, and now of the Obama Administration. So I really appreciate and welcome all of you here for this meeting.
This meeting gives us the opportunity to identify where we are and how we can improve our strategy to hear from different parts of our government about what works and what doesn’t work, how better we can share intelligence and coordinate enforcement and tracking and training of our officials, and to make clear that this is a high priority of this Administration.
Now, I know several of you have some firsthand experience with this modern form of slavery, because that’s really what it is. And as we look at the cases that are handled by the Justice Department or the results of the investigations that HHS or Labor do, we see that very clearly. And certainly, I know that Secretary Solis has seen that firsthand with the kind of sweatshops and other forced labor in California, and others of you around the world may as well. I’ve been involved in this for a long time, going back many years, and I think it’s one of the most important human rights issues that we work on here in our Department and certainly that many of you are deeply involved with.
I think today, what we want to do is hear from everybody so that everyone can have a chance to express where we are in a kind of update. I know how busy everybody is and we’re going to try to keep this to an hour, because that’s what we promised.
Let me turn first to our Under Secretary Maria Otero.