SECRETARY KERRY: (In progress) -- all of you, and particularly with our good Ambassador-at-Large Lou CdeBaca and a lot of other colleagues who have been taking up this important cause. And we’re going to be, as I think many of you know, live broadcast here, live-webbed. And Denis is going to be over here in a little bit. He just – we just left a meeting, and he’s doing a couple of things, and then he’ll join us.
But this is, as we all know, just a gigantic cause of human rights and really a growing challenge to all of us. I learned a small amount about it years ago in the 1970s when I was a prosecutor, and I may have shared this a little bit last year, but I started the first rape counseling victim witness assistance program in Massachusetts, one of the first in the country, back in the 70s. It was early, and our model was Henry Morgenthau, the – not Henry – the district attorney in New York.
PARTICIPANT: Manhattan, yeah, Robert.
SECRETARY KERRY: Robert. Robert Morgenthau, who was sort of the model for district attorneys. He was there for years and years and years. And it was really fascinating to sort of learn how this underworld was working. And I remember even trying [a case of] a prostitute who allegedly had been raped, and everybody said, “You’re crazy, you can’t take that case on. You’ll never prove a prostitute could be raped.” And we did actually. We won the case and sort of proved that rights can extend into very improbable places.
So I think for a lot of people, they don’t get it. They just don’t understand what this is all about. And it’s a tragedy that they don’t. But I think increasingly they are because we’re engaged. I think this all-government effort is something that we can be enormously proud of. I know the President, obviously who has created this, is extremely focused on it and very dedicated to the notion that we all can make a difference.
And it’s very rare. I think a lot of you sat around yesterday – there were others in the Administration longer than I have, but it’s very rare to have an all-government effort where people are coordinating as much as we are and really putting their energies into this. So we’re going to continue to go after this. It’s a national security issue as well as a moral imperative, and I think everybody here is tuned into that. But everybody has to be part of it – healthcare providers, diplomats, law enforcement, immigration. I mean, you name it; we’re all at the table. It’s the only way to fight it.
So it takes all kinds of shapes, obviously. You have Cambodian men who are lured under false pretenses to go somewhere and suddenly they’re in forced labor at sea and working under age and in horrible conditions as slaves on a ship or a fishing vessel or something. You have Nepalese women who are abducted or coerced or lured into a sex industry that sends them off to destinations in the Gulf, where they are literally made slaves. You have Haitian children taken from their families, who are deprived of education, forced into labor in a home that is not their own.
And I remember when I went to the Vatican, just the other day with the President, and we met with the Pope that in the course of some discussions there with His Eminence the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin, who brought up this as a major interest obviously of the church. And as the Pope says, when any man, woman, or child is enslaved anywhere it’s a threat to peace, justice, and human dignity everywhere. So that’s what sort of brings us here. These are not American values, these are universal values. And I’m delighted to have such a qualified and incredibly committed group of people around the table to work at it.
The State Department, as I think many of you know, is working hand-in-hand with governments, the private sector, faith-based groups in order to end this scourge and to identify the people who are enslaved and free them and to hold those accountable who placed them in that jeopardy.
So I’m pleased to announce today that in – that the State Department is planning to work with the Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to map and coordinate the church’s efforts on a global basis to be able to combat this crime. So I think that was a good thing that came out of that meeting. This partnership, we hope, is going to make it a lot easier for people to be able to share information, share best practices, identify caregivers and advocates, and it will ramp up our capacity around the world to be able to identify victims and get them the help that they need.
So you have to put this into perspective. I was struck by the fact – I talked to Lou about it a little earlier today when we were going over this. When I was here last year and we did this, I remember the figure, because it stuck out at me – 6 million people. And we’re saying, “Wow, that’s a lot of people.” But in fact, the pedagogy has expanded since we made that announcement, and that was based on some governments reporting, et cetera. But now, through our efforts and the efforts of other people, there’s a much more scientific and much more competent basis by which we are measuring the levels of this on a global basis, the result of which is we have a range of somewhere between 21 million and 29 million people who are enslaved. And that comes from a far more rigid, scientifically based analysis reaching in proactively, not waiting for people to report to you, but we proactively going out and trying to find out what’s the situation. That’s just stunning. I mean, absolutely staggering. And so it’s a real measure of the amount of work that we have ahead of us and what we need to do.
So let me just tell you, I have instructed our Trafficking in Persons Office to zero in and really focus on the issues that are involved here. We’re working with NGOs to make sure that the global fishing industry doesn’t get any of its supplies from forced labor, including forced child labor. And thanks to the President’s Executive Order on procurement, a lot of you around this table are all working and shining a spotlight on our own purchasing and contracting practices.
In the end this is a moral fight, and we’re going to have to hold people accountable in places where they really don’t like to be held accountable, and we all know that. But history teaches us that when the United States of America stands up on this kind of an issue, it makes the world of difference; it defines us and it is critical for us to be able to have this kind of impact on the destiny of people on this planet. And I think we can be hugely proud when we all leave here when this Administration has finished its work. This is going to be a very important legacy for the President and for the country.
So I want to turn things over to Ambassador CdeBaca to give us a quick update on the work the task force has been doing, and then we’ll come back when we have a chance to honor some folks, and then we’ll go around and get everybody’s input.
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and let me thank all of the members of the task force for joining in today’s meeting. I think a big part of why these annual meetings are so successful – and I see the inter-ministerial working groups in countries around the world – and one of the reasons why the American effort stands out is the incredible work of the colleagues at the assistant secretary level, the Senior Policy Operating Group, and what we call the SPOG. It’s the one that works throughout the year on your behalf. It’s the one that meets quarterly. And through our day-to-day work we’re making sure that the efforts to combat modern slavery are collaborative, efficient, and as innovative as the spirit in this room today.
Now, following the guidance that the task force gave us last year when we last gathered here, we are making sure that the SPOG works to reflect our most up-to-date understanding of modern slavery and how to combat it. And we’ve seen a surge of activity as a result. It’s about bolstering victim services, implementing protections in federal procurement, coordinating on programs to avoid duplication and raising public awareness. The committees of the SPOG have been busy throughout the year and we have the results to prove it in front of you in the accomplishments document. We’ve worked to strengthen our partnerships with the private sector and civil society, bringing more and more resources to bear in our shared pursuit, for making the business case, encouraging a victim-centered approach to law enforcement and social services.
So I’d like to especially congratulate everyone’s hard work and smooth partnership in developing the groundbreaking Strategic Action Plan on Victim Services. The Victim Services Action Plan, also on the table, is the first of its kind and it is a model for the rest of the world. It demonstrates that the journey of victim to survivor is at the center of everything we do in this fight.
Let me close by thanking the SPOG colleagues who are with us today and all of the dedicated men and women who are providing a voice for the most vulnerable.
A point of personal privilege – I remember years ago stepping out of an interview of a trafficker, getting someone to flip on his counterparts and give testimony against them, because I got a page. You remember pagers? (Laughter.) It was Tom Perez suggesting to me, “Why don’t we form a working group, an interagency working group? Let’s call it the Worker Exploitation Task Force.” These many years later, under Tom’s leadership, under your leadership, under the President’s leadership, we have an opportunity to be that voice for the workers, for those who are in sex trafficking, for all of the vulnerable. So thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. I think we’re going to present the award. Or do you want to have Denis first?
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: How long do we have?
SECRETARY KERRY: (Inaudible).
MR. MCDONOUGH: No, no, no, I’ll go after you. (Inaudible) absolutely.
SECRETARY KERRY: Lou, thank you very much. It’s my privilege to present this year’s Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. And I want to invite – I think they’re already up here. I don’t need to invite you. You guys are moving. (Laughter.)
Anyway, Kay Buck and Butch Schuman and Ima Matul and Evelyn Chumbow, and they’re all part of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, or CAST as it is called. So let me just take you back to the 1990s for a moment to a factory in El Monte, California. This just wasn’t any old factory in America. It was a fortified sweatshop fenced off with razor wire. And the windows were boarded up with cardboard. No one was looking in, and believe me, no one inside was able to look out.
When law enforcement raided this facility, here’s what they found: More than 70 Thai immigrants held hostage and forced to work under deplorable conditions. One man had been there for four years and he didn’t even get to talk to his family, not once in those four years. Extraordinary.
So CAST didn’t just help these men and women to survive and break out of that bondage, they helped them to thrive. They have brought the same commitment to that groundbreaking work on a broad basis, the same commitment they brought to this one act to everything they have done. Together with the National Survivor Network, CAST has pioneered new ways to empower survivors through advocacy – through survivor-led advocacy, peer-to-peer mentorship, and new training and job development programs. And as CAST understands better than just about anybody, our outrage at modern day slavery has to be coupled with outreach. And no one reaches out to survivors with greater passion and greater personal commitment than CAST does. The fight against human trafficking is, needless to say, a formidable moral responsibility, as I said earlier. But we, each of us, particularly the people in this room, through our agencies and through the President, have the ability to be able to change things for the better.
I feel that when I look at and learn about organizations like CAST and the survivors who are here with us today, it reminds us not just of the work that we have to do, but that a single person, a group of people, on their own, struck by injustice, ready to break down the barriers, can go out and make the world of difference.
So the journey from captivity to the White House really is an inspiration, and we thank you so much for being here with us today to receive this award. Lou, if you would read the citation, it would be my honor to present it.
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. For its extraordinary efforts to provide comprehensive services to survivors of modern slavery, its bold leadership on behalf of and in partnership with survivors to advocate for robust anti-trafficking policies and laws, and its unwavering mission to empower survivors by building a community network and helping leaders thrive, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
SECRETARY KERRY: (Presents certificate and medallion.) Hear, hear. (Applause.)
Okay, now you have to split that . (Laughter.)
So he needs no introduction, but I’m really delighted that our chief of staff has been able to come over and join us for a few minutes. Thank you.
MR. MCDONOUGH: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. And let me thank everybody for being here today. Let me add my words of praise and admiration and congratulations to CAST for the amazing work that they’ve done on behalf of victims of trafficking and the support for survivor advocacy leadership over the years.
I’ve always looked forward to this meeting. Now this is my, I think, fourth in a row. It’s, I think, something that we all aspire to do, to make sure that we’re working on behalf of the least of these. And each year with the honorees at the annual meeting of the PITF is a great opportunity for us to see people who are doing that every day on the front lines. And so I want to say congratulations and thanks, and thanks for the real boosted effort that all of you give to all of us who are doing work here in the government as well.
Let me just also say thanks to Lou and – for his continued and very good work. He is obviously a tireless advocate, but also a very capable manager of this whole of government approach that we need in that and I think we are making good progress on.
So, obviously notwithstanding all this excellent work that each of the agencies represented here as well as independent organizations like CAST are doing, this is still an issue that casts a huge shadow over all of us. Twenty-one to twenty-nine million people is really astonishing, especially when you think it’s true the fact that many of those twenty-nine – upwards of twenty-nine million people are kids, are kids not unlike my own, 7, 9, and 12 year-old kids forced into these kind of circumstances. So this is just not an issue that we can ever afford to ignore or to downplay. The scope of the problem obviously is enormous. The realities that are being experienced by women, children, and men even right now as we speak are really astonishing.
So let me just, on behalf of the President, say to this team, thank you for what you’re doing, but as importantly, get to work, because there’s a lot of work yet to be done.
So I appreciate everybody making time for me to come by. I appreciate, as I say, this real shot in the arm from people like CAST for the amazing work they’re doing. And to my colleagues, I say good on you, thanks, and let’s make sure we keep pressing ahead.
Thanks, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you, Denis. Thanks for your leadership, and thank you for taking time to come by on this.
Let me just share really quickly, and then I’ve got to run around the table, but just share a couple of other things that State is doing so everybody is aware of what we’re doing for outreach and action on this. The State Department has engaged an all-hands effort to support survivors as they try to rebuild their lives and get into new communities.
And one of the things that we’re doing is improving the way that we train people. A few weeks ago, we just wrapped up our first pilot project down in Brazil to train more than 100 consular and law enforcement officers. Now I’m told it was a huge success. They learned about how to spot human trafficking and ways to share information and intelligence to combat it. But we’re doing more than that. We’re also expanding access to legal support and protection for victims of the crime. We launched a new partnership with DLA Piper last year to do exactly that. And we’ve set our sights on two goals: better compensation for victims and better contracts with stronger protection for migrate domestic – migrant domestic workers.
In addition, we’re also taking additional steps to ensure that everyone who comes to our shores knows their rights. So we make sure people are aware of that right up front. There’s a Know Your Rights pamphlet to develop a video for our consular sections around the world, and they’re undertaking this effort. We’re working with the Department of Homeland Security to translate the video into 39 languages, and we’re going to show it in places where people are applying for work visas when they come here.
So we’re trying to do this on every front that we can around the globe, every post that we have, every outreach to businesses and so forth. And as you all know, I said it earlier, we can’t do this without all of you coordinating both in the embassies as well as back here at home and in the agencies around the country.
So let me turn to our good Secretary Sally Jewell, ask her to share with us on the anti-trafficking efforts in the areas of rule of law and public awareness and outreach.
SECRETARY JEWELL: Great. Thank you very much. And I want to start with a good news story. And I was talking to Ambassador Cabeza de Baca – to get your name right, and in full – about the insular areas, and specifically Saipan, and what was happening in Saipan, which is why Interior was first at this table, brought to this table, and the closing of that factory, and the associated human trafficking that was going on around it. It was a good news story. And coming as a businessperson from the outside, where your reputation is at stake with who you do business with around the globe, and you’d better know the conditions of those factories and what’s happening with your workforce as they go there and so on, this does make a difference. Our efforts make a difference, and the efforts of companies to support the kinds of ideals that we uphold in this country and to communicate that with their customers, who then will demand it of their suppliers of goods and services is a great way to really make a difference. So I want to applaud the efforts of this group long before my time in addressing that particular issue in the insular areas, and bringing us to the table.
Where we are now in the Department of the Interior is – really, our biggest struggles are in Indian country. Casinos can be a magnet for bad activities, including human trafficking and prostitution. Boom towns like we have in the Bakken region of North Dakota are another magnet for that kind of activities and then border communities. So we have work for the Department of Justice in particular and other local law enforcement around not only putting strike teams in – mobile strike teams to work on issues as is happening in the Fort Berthold reservation in the Bakken area, but also working alongside experts in some of your agencies on victims’ rights, and leaning into the capacity that Health and Human Services has, for example, to make sure that we are identifying those circumstances and training our law enforcement people, who generally are not looking for human trafficking crimes; they are incidental.
The National Park Service, for example, runs across human trafficking and drug activities. And that’s not primarily what they’re trained to do. So a lot of what your agencies are doing are training and preparing law enforcement, no matter what they – where they are, to look for the signs and to know where to go and what to do.
The other thing I would say that is happening that is very good are efforts to prepare victims to press charges and to help prepare local law enforcement, especially in Indian country – local Indian tribal law enforcement organizations to be effective in their prosecutions. So there’s a lot going on, and in talking to my colleague, Kevin Washburn, who’s back here – and it’s great to be in the Indian Treaty Room for this – our most vulnerable population are our indigenous people in many ways, and they are vulnerable to the same kinds of things that you see internationally. And I just want to express my appreciation to the Ambassador and to the efforts on this group to help us help tribal leaders do the best thing they can for the people of their tribal nations. And so there’s a lot going on and appreciate everybody’s efforts to help us.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Sally, very, very, much. Thanks for all that effort. And the Secretary – the Department of Labor Secretary Perez is going to share with us some thoughts about procurement and supply chains and some of the victims’ services that they’re engaged in.
SECRETARY PEREZ: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I’m having flashbacks as you were giving that award out because 20 years ago, I was working in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department as a career prosecutor, and I was the first-line supervisor in a case involving the abuse of Thai garment workers in El Monte, and indictment reviews and all that stuff. And that’s when we were first getting a handle on this stuff. We had no idea what the scope of the problem was. We knew that there was a big problem in the CNMI, but we didn’t realize that there was a problem stateside.
And we learned a lot from that case. We learned that we needed to do more. And as the
Ambassador correctly pointed out, we then created this interagency task force, and then we created better laws because we had to fit square pegs into round holes in order to prosecute these cases, because the laws weren’t made sufficiently for modern-day slavery. And so we did that, and you fast-forward 20 years and you now really have a four-legged stool of human trafficking. One is the federal partners represented very ably around this table and the work that all the agencies do, and then you have our state and local partners and I used to speak to a lot of state DAs associations, and we help them write state human trafficking laws, because our theory of the case was we’re all in this together.
And there’s, regrettably, plenty of work to go around, so let’s help states get empowered to do this. And our indispensable nonprofit partners, because when the federal government goes into a situation and says, “I’m Tom Perez, I’m with the government, I’m here to help,” that doesn’t exactly resonate with the folks who we’re trying to help. (Laughter.) And so our nonprofit partners were indispensable.
And the fourth leg of the stool has become foreign governments, and we spend a lot of time working bilaterally, because when you learn that you have a source community in Mexico that’s bringing you all of the cases and you don’t deal with that, that’s like curing cancer by building more hospitals. You’re not going to get there. And so that four-legged stool has been something that has been a learning moment over time, and every department around this table has played a critical and unique role in that effort, and I’ve had the privilege from my old perch of seeing it up close and personal, and I want to say thank you to all of you.
And in the Labor Department, we have a national footprint and we deal with a lot of workers. And you said, “Know your rights,” Mr. Secretary. Well, one right is if you work, you’re entitled to pay regardless of your immigration status. And so we’ve actually done a pretty good job of building trust with communities because we’re not in the immigration business. We are in the business of making sure that people who got cheated out of wages get help. And so we’ve been able to build some good relationships that – with our nonprofit partners and others that enable us to help DOJ a lot on some of the cases that they’re doing in the labor trafficking context. And then we have eyes and ears on the ground.
And as Sally correctly said, when you are – when you’re out there just doing a case, what we have instilled on our team is a sense that you got to have your eyes and ears open for indicia of broader work at hand. And so that is a big part of what we’re doing. And we also have an International Labor Bureau which works on the international dimension, and so we’re actively involved with the State Department and others on the issues of – the procurement issues that you described, Mr. Secretary, and other related issues so that we can play both in the international context and in the domestic context. And it really is links on a chain, and there are many links of our federal partners here. And if I had to describe one or two ways in which we have really dramatically improved over the last 20 years that I’ve been around this issue, it’s improving the quality of the collaboration not just within ourselves. We really are one government in this in ways that we learned 20 years ago, and we’re one world in the four-legged stool sets of partnerships in ways that are remarkable. But your data point at the outset illustrates that this is not a time to pat ourselves on the back because we’ve still got a heck of a lot to do.
SECRETARY KERRY: Tom, thank you very, very much. Department of Transportation now, Secretary Foxx will share some thoughts about outreach and public awareness.
SECRETARY FOXX: Thank you, Secretary Kerry, and I want to say that I’m proud as we are, as a department, to be working with you and the entire task force and the folks assembled around this table.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation formed a partnership called Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking, and that partnership was formed as an effort to work to make sure that everyone involved in our nation’s transportation industry knows three things: Number one, that human trafficking exists, that they know how to detect it, and that they know how to stop it. Since that time, we have trained nearly every one of our 55,000 DOT employees along those lines.
In addition to that, I want to thank Secretary Johnson in particular, because the partnership with the Department of Homeland Security has allowed us to be able to train Amtrak’s 20,000 employees. We’re also working with five airlines through an initiative called the Blue Lightning Initiative, which is helping to train flight attendants, pilots, and other frontline workers to identify these efforts, because obviously, for human trafficking to exist, people have to get here through some means. And if we can catch this at the airline, catch it at the ship, catch it at the bus, or whatever it is, that’s what we want to do.
And actually, that leads me to focus on the current year. Today, I’m proud to announce that we are expanding our effort. We are actually extending this effort to work with the bus and the motorcoach industry. Greyhound in particular has shown its intention to work with our employees to help train – to train theirs, and they will join a group of more than 100 organizations that are partnered through our initiative. And Greyhound has 2,300 bus drivers and additional personnel, and so this is a dramatic expansion of our effort that we’re announcing today.
So let me close by saying we’re eager to enlist all of our employees, all of our resources to get more trucking companies, more busing companies, more transit agencies, more maritime leaders at the table working with us on this issue. We think it is vital and we’re fully committed to ensuring the success of this effort.
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s great. That’s great stuff. I was actually going to ask you if you did Greyhound and the different bus folks, and I would imagine that’s a huge (inaudible). But Secretary Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security likewise are going to share some thoughts about both the outreach and awareness issue.
SECRETARY JOHNSON: Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today on behalf of DHS and the men and women of the Department, many of whom are dedicated to this issue. This is my first of these meetings, and I look forward to continuing to attend these.
There’s a list of things that we’re active in right now in the Department, along with others around the table here. We’ve recently finalized agreements with the Department of Ed and GSA to develop trafficking indicator training and other resources for school administrators, teachers, and staff and to display human trafficking awareness materials in every government-owned building in the United States. With the Department of State, we’re also providing training and other resource materials in embassies and consulates worldwide. We will build upon our partnerships with the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties to bring human trafficking awareness materials developed by DHS and cobranded with these organizations to city and county governments across the country.
We are developing a national engagement plan leveraging national resources to energize local communities to combat human trafficking and distributing awareness materials through various media outlets. We have enhanced our training capabilities through the development of new training videos and web-based training, both for law enforcement and the general public. And I’m proud to say that together, with our partners, we’ve trained over 10 – over 100,000 individuals to recognize who, because of their work, may come in contact with victims of human trafficking.
Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has a victim-centered approach to combating human trafficking, one that places equal value on the identification and stabilization of victims as well as the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. DHS also makes assistance for immigrant victims an important focus of our anti-trafficking work. We’ll continue along these lines. We will continue working with you to increase investigations and prosecutions of human traffickers, train more front-line law enforcement partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and identify victims and further improve victim services under the new strategic action plan.
So thank you for the work around the table, and we look forward to continued progress. Thanks.
SECRETARY KERRY: Jeh, thank you very, very much. Now we turn to the Justice Department for a discussion about victim services and rule of law. Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
MR. COLE: Thank you, Secretary Kerry, for your leadership on this important task force. And I want to thank everybody here in the government and in the nongovernment organizations for all the work that’s being done here. The Justice Department’s work to combat human trafficking is indelibly linked and is, frankly, strengthened by the courageous participation and the dedicated advocacy of survivors. Survivors of human trafficking come from all walks of life. They’re U.S. persons, citizens, they’re also foreign nationals. They’re men, they’re women, they’re children who are subjected to sex trafficking or forced labor.
We’re working with agencies across the Administration to improve our efforts to identify traffickers, bolster our abilities to bring them to justice, and importantly, to support the survivors of their abuse. For example, the Department of Justice, along with Homeland Security, recently came together to produce training on survivor-centered interview skills for law enforcement to make sure that that sensitivity is in there in the investigative process. As part of this effort, our Office for Victims of Crime – we call it OVC – facilitated the participation of a survivor advocate in the production of training videos which are going to be made available later this year.
Additional cutting-edge tools are also on their way, including a survivor-created guide on developing services for commercially exploited young women and girls. And our National Institute of Justice is also going to release several important studies this year which will inform our understanding of the trafficking problem and the effectiveness of the services that we’re all offering.
But in addition to providing services and outreach to victims of trafficking, a core part of the Department of Justice’s mission is to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes. And here too, our efforts are stronger and are more effective when we incorporate lessons learned from survivors. Input from survivors is a key part of the special program that we have to train 120 prosecutors who will coordinate our anti-trafficking efforts at United States Attorney’s Offices throughout the country. And our DOJ-funded human trafficking task forces work with survivors to inform their own responses and their own outreach efforts.
Last January, in conjunction with the release of the Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking, OVC held a Human Trafficking Survivor Forum and Listening Session which was hosted by the White House. There we learned from a diverse group of 19 survivors on the ways in which we can engage survivors to enhance our national response to human trafficking. I myself was honored to personally welcome these survivors to the forum.
One of the most poignant moments that came out of that session was when one of the survivors said, and I quote, “The forum made me realize that I shouldn’t be hiding at all, but rather be out of my shell, helping other victims and law enforcement government officials in fighting to end human trafficking. Together, we will be much stronger.”
So the message from this Department of Justice, from this presidential task force, and from this forum is clear: We stand with these courageous men and women, and we will make their struggle our own, and together do everything in our power to end human trafficking.
We’re already making significant strides. In fact, since 2009, the Department of Justice has filed more human trafficking cases than at any other time in our history. But much more remains to be done. That’s why meetings like this are so important to make sure we coordinate all of those efforts among us.
I’m honored to be here with everyone, and frankly, I look forward to seeing where all of our collective efforts are going to take us. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much. Very helpful, and as everybody here can imagine – excuse me – HHS has obviously an enormous role not just in awareness and outreach, but also in victim services. So, Deputy William Corr.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CORR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary Kerry. You mentioned the Federal Strategic Action Plan earlier. HHS, along with Homeland Security and Justice, were responsible for co-chairing the development of that strategic plan, and now for its implementation of over 200 action items over the next few years.
Our department is focused in several major areas. First, of course, is the continuous improvement of our existing programs where we provide support for victims of – from international – from other countries. We’ve provided additional resources, and we are constantly trying to improve our ability to provide comprehensive victim services, whether it be financial stability, housing, foster care. Whatever the needs are, our objectives have to be to provide that support.
And this year, pursuant to the strategic plan, we also are focusing on serving domestic survivors of human trafficking. We’ve provided additional resources in both of these areas, and we’re trying to bring all the experience that we’ve learned dealing with international survivors to the domestic survivors.
In addition, we have numerous programs that – human services programs that serve individuals, and it’s very important that they be refocused to serve domestic survivors, programs like our child welfare programs for runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence, other community-based initiatives where, if we improve our ability to identify survivors, we’re in a position where we can actually help serve with many of the same programs. Examples: We provided grants for economic and social self-sufficiency within the Native American community; we’ve provided some special focus in our child welfare populations, places where we expect there may be domestic survivors.
In addition – you referenced this earlier, Secretary Kerry – there’s a major emphasis on improving the ability of our healthcare system to identify survivors. We are currently conducting four pilots where we’re training, and we’ll be evaluating it, to ensure that healthcare providers learn how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and understand the short- and long-term healthcare needs of survivors.
And maybe most importantly, as we all work towards providing services, it’s important that we continue to listen to stakeholder groups, that we continue to understand the recommendations coming to us from the survivor community. Their recommendations are central to our policymaking, so we are constantly looking to survivors to help us understand what we need to be doing.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it very much.
Acting Deputy Secretary Christine Fox on DOD’s behalf is going to share some thoughts about the supply chain, procurement, and outreach in public awareness.
DEPUTY SECRETARY FOX: Thank you, Secretary Kerry, and thank you all. It’s a pleasure to be with you today. DOD’s focus on implementing the NDAA and the Executive Order is focused on protecting workers through contract actions as well as training our people to identify and aid survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent trafficking before it occurs.
On the contracting actions, we are taking numerous steps to develop regulations that govern contract actions with respect to trafficking. Now, we are giving this regulatory process constant attention because, as you appreciate, it’s very easy to fall into a focus on the individual regulations and the process of deciding what they should be and losing sight on the urgency of this process, as it is indeed associated with impacts on real people and people that are struggling every day. And so we believe that we have been successful in bringing that sense of urgency to our processes and that we will be publishing new acquisition rules in 2014. And we believe that those rules will take some essential steps necessary to begin to address the problem.
On the training side, we are simultaneously right now starting to train our acquisition workforce to be ready to implement these new acquisition rules. We believe that as soon as they are published, we will be able to hit the ground running with a trained acquisition workforce so that we can get started.
An important part of our new procedures, we believe, is that we will include audits into our processes. We’re not going to just assure ourselves that our regulations are working. We’re going to go out and do audits and make certain that they are, and if we find problems, look forward to working with the interagency to understand the best, most effective, and appropriate way to hand those problems off. And we’ll need to work together to make sure DOD is behaving in the right way once we find actions so we can take swift action against problems.
Lastly, operationally, we are injecting human trafficking scenarios into exercises that are run globally through our combatant commanders. As we build partnership capacity throughout the DOD, it’s very important that we train ourselves and our partners to identify trafficking, as its influence can be very destabilizing for our partner nations. And these exercises are a forum to identify trafficking behaviors and appropriate ways to act upon them, so we’re very excited about that. That’s happening in several of our different geographic areas.
And so thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s great, Christine. Thank you. And obviously, with Defense – with DOD’s reach, they have an enormous ability to be a partner in this, and I think it’s terrific.
Our Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken is going to report to us on the security components of this.
MR. BLINKEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Let me start by joining my voice to Denis McDonough’s in thanking everyone on behalf of the President, working across the government – folks who are at this table, in this room, and out in the field to take this fight to human trafficking.
I think the President said it very clearly and succinctly: What we’re talking about is modern slavery. And in that respect, we all face a moral imperative, as Secretary Kerry noted at the outset. But there’s also a very practical national security threat that we’re dealing with. When you think about it, the same illicit networks that traffic people, also trafficking drugs, illicit weapons, and other things – they feed conflict, they feed instability, they undermine public health. And so dealing with these networks also advances our national security. Similarly, when we promote human dignity, when we stand up for human rights, we foster a more stable and capable world with more capable partners, and in so doing, we reinforce strong security.
One of the most effective tools that we have is thanks to the State Department, and that is the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. It assesses progress in 188 countries, including the United States. It’s proved to be a very powerful tool for focusing our own efforts and for encouraging governments to take responsibility for human trafficking within their borders and across their borders. I think we’ve seen, from our perspective, significant progress over the past year, and it’s really across the globe if you think about it. From Switzerland to Papua New Guinea to the Maldives, we’ve seen countries pass and strengthen anti-trafficking laws. The Bahamas is prosecuting traffickers for the first time. From Barbados to Jordan to the Czech Republic, we’re seeing countries improve victim identification and victim care.
Of course, all of us can do more, including the United States, and one of the things that is particularly important is for all of the agencies and departments involved to raise human trafficking with their counterparts as they interact internationally. The President sets the example. Recently at the North American Leaders’ Summit with the Mexican President Pena Nieto and the Canadian Prime Minister Harper, they agreed, all three, to convene trafficking experts from across all three governments to share best practices for comprehensive victims services.
So from the national security perspective, we bring this commitment. We will continue to make sure that trafficking is reported accurately and honestly. We will continue to build political will and government capacity and cooperation necessary to end human trafficking. And we will continue to stand with the victims of human trafficking around the world. As the President put it so eloquently, we see you, we hear you, we insist on your dignity. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, Tony, very, very much. Thanks for your partnership in this and the leadership from NSS on it.
Now we turn to the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle, again focusing on public awareness, outreach.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY DELISLE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thanks to everyone around the table who is offering their assistance at the local level as well as the state level in education. As I tell you, I’ve been in education for 39 years and it wasn’t until I became the chief school officer in Ohio and also was a district superintendent in an urban center where I even understood the issue of trafficking on children. And so in many respects, I feel like in schools, people are very naive about what actually happens, and actually had a visit from an official from Homeland Security, and I was absolutely shocked to hear about the statistics in Ohio at that particular time.
And in thinking about that, I realized that for us in the field of education, we need the help of all of the agencies around here, particularly at the state and the local level. Deputy Attorney General Cole shared a quote, but let me add one to it to express the need to interject in situations where students are interrupted from their formalized learning. This child trafficking survivor said, “I didn’t care about school at all. In fact, I was so uncomfortable there, so afraid that people were talking about me and telling others about what I was doing. I was constantly getting into fights and this gave me a way to keep people scared of me and get myself a suspension so that I could actually leave school.”
This interruption of formalized learning, and worse, in fact, was that this child did not feel that she had any adult in her school career who actually was an advocate for her who could support her, and I think her quote demonstrates that she was bearing the burden of that. So when we can’t offer our children hope for their future, it’s really dismal in the part of schools about what their lives actually call for. We believe that schools can and should be safe havens for students, some of whose lives are otherwise characteristic by – characterized by instability and lack of safety or even security. So for us at the Department of Ed, what we are trying to do and we’ve been working diligently on is to demonstrate a comprehensive approach to school safety and to ensure that all children in school, particularly those who are most vulnerable, actually have strong advocates to whom that they can turn in moments of despair.
We also believe that everyone who’s part of the school community, whether it’s administrators, food service staff, maintenance personnel, bus drivers, resource officers and the like have the potential to be an advocate for child victims of human trafficking. But first – and this is so critical – they absolutely have to learn the indicators of the crime, its warning signs, and how to respond when a student is an apparent victim. You do not get that in teacher training programs, you don’t get that in superintendent programs, and most especially in leadership roles.
So at the Department of Ed, we work really diligently to help school officials understand how human trafficking actually impacts schools and their student population. Most especially, when I was a superintendent of an urban district and when I was approached by Homeland Security, I began to lose sight of the fact that this was not just an urban problem, but in fact, children in Ohio are being lured by drugs in suburban areas as well, and that became somewhat of a shocking statistic for me.
We’re also working to recognize the indicators of possible child trafficking and develop policies, protocols, and partnerships to address and prevent the exploitation of children. And the relationships are absolutely so critical. So for example, our relationship with the FBI has helped to train school resource officers to help schools, to help teachers and principals to understand what are the signs. A few examples of our current and future work includes developing a guide for school staff that helps them to identify potential victims, take the appropriate steps to protect students, and then work with partners in efforts to prosecute traffickers, and even to go so far as to enable them to understand how do you work with law enforcement, because sometimes those have been divided silos.
It was mentioned previously about our MOU with the Department of Homeland Security. We have hosted webinars. We have policy briefings. Secretary Duncan actually issued a policy letter on working together to end the trafficking of American school-aged youth. We are working with our technical assistance centers. So this is all as you would understand – in a comprehensive approach to enabling educators and any adults who comes into contact with children to totally understand what are the signs.
I think it’s always been my belief that what we offer to children tells them what it is that we value. So when we service our advocates and caretakers, we actually tell children that their lives are of value to us. So I remain committed to working with all of the agencies around the table, and most especially within states, to ensure that commissioners of education, superintendents and principals, and most especially teachers and then students, know exactly how to interact with this particular issue, and most especially where to find help and how to interact with agencies that are at the state and local level.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Appreciate that, Deb.
OMB will share with us some thoughts about both procurement and supply chain. Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert. Or is it like Stephen Colbert? (Laughter.)
MS. COBERT: No, just Cobert. Thank you, Secretary Kerry. I and the rest of the team at OMB are proud to contribute to this very critical effort. As the single largest purchaser of goods and services in the world, the federal government bears a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not contribute to human trafficking.
In late 2012, the President took a significant step by issuing Executive Order 13627 to better address this responsibility, and to send a message that would-be lawbreaker – to would-be lawbreakers that the United States Government is serious in its commitment to fight trafficking. In early 2013, Congress sent its own important message by passing legislation to strengthen the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The framework created by the EO and legislation will ensure a more stable and productive supply chain and better ensure support to those most susceptible to exploitive practices. For example, we are placing a prohibition on charging recruitment fees to employees, and for large contracts establishing whistleblower mechanisms and trafficking awareness programs.
The Administration has made good progress in developing rules to implement the EO, operating with a sense of urgency and commitment that Deputy Secretary Fox described. The proposed rules that the interagency drafting team released last year generated significant public interest, and the team has been reviewing and addressing the numerous comments it received. We intend to finalize the rule by this summer.
Although the new rules represent a significant achievement, we view them as only one step towards making impactful progress in achieving our goals. We need to make sure that the appropriate government employees know how to best work with these new requirements so they can address this issue. That’s why, concurrent with these efforts, OMB, the Department of State, and the Department of Labor have been leading a PITF working group to identify sectors or industries, both domestically and abroad, that are most vulnerable to trafficking. This year we plan to continue our efforts to identify and evaluate these vulnerabilities and to give our acquisition professionals the tools they need to better understand risks and to better support responsible labor practices within corporations that do business with the government.
We look forward to continuing our work closely with our partner agencies over the coming year as we work to move these implementation (inaudible) forward.
SECRETAR KERRY: Thank you. Thank you, Beth, very much.
So everybody knows where the FBI fits in, but we want to hear, obviously, what you guys are up to and how we can help. So director, thank you very much for undertaking this.
Director James Comey.
MR. COMEY: No – thank you, Mr. Secretary. The FBI comes at this worldwide scourge in two different directions, one through our civil rights program, and the second through our Crimes Against Children Program, both of which have worked in our offices in all 50 states and around the world.
And in addressing this scourge, we’re trying to do three things. We’re trying to lock up some criminals, the slavers, and hit them very hard for two reasons: one, to make sure that those individual criminals don’t re-enslave someone else; and second, that we send a message that echoes around the world that depriving people of their freedom is not free, and there’s a significant cost to be paid for that conduct. And as we do that, as you said, we’re trying to focus on the victims. We think that is the most humane way to approach, and also the smartest way to find criminals, is to identify victims and then work backwards after we rescue them.
The second thing we’re trying to do is train cops here at home and around the world to approach it the same way, with the same goals and the same techniques.
And third, we’re trying to make sure that we treat the victims in the best way possible, and that is to make sure that our world-class victim specialists are working with state and local partners around the country to rescue and get these folks the help they need.
This is the reason people join the FBI, to rescue the innocent and make sure that slavers and criminals pay a price for their conduct. So it’s the work that inspires us and drives us, and we’re proud to be part of it, and we thank you for your leadership.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you for all the FBI does. I appreciate it enormously. It’s such a key cog in all of this.
Raj Shah, Director of USAID – again, a lot of supply chain and a lot of contracting, procurement, and a lot of outreach.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. And having participated in this for a number of years, I just want to say I think Lou is doing a great job, and it’s a great example of what we all do when we can focus together on a critical issue.
USAID supports programs in countries that are high-risk and specifically focuses on seeking out and supporting victims in the communities they’re from. On a recent trip to Nepal, I had a chance as part of this initiative to meet with a roundtable of victims and NGOs. One in particular who had been enslaved in India in sex traffic there and then got out told this gut-wrenching story of what it was like coming back, which sounded just horrific. Her family wasn’t accepting her. Her community wasn’t accepting her. She really had nowhere to turn and was at very high risk of being sent out in her case to Dubai in a similar situation.
So these programs are, in fact, important. We reach more than 100,000 people in 68 countries, targeting and supporting victims. As part of this effort, we’ve been doing a few things differently that I think are really worth noting. The first is all – each victim is different, so we’re doing these large-scale surveys of victims to make sure that services provided by our NGO partners and government partners are tailored to and meet their needs, including the needs and realities of the communities they’re from.
Second, we’ve had a real focus on technology and innovation over the last few years, and this is picking up steam with investments now and efforts like Labor Link, a mobile platform that gives businesses real-time data from their supply chains and gives workers a chance to raise concerns. And as Secretary Jewell notes, the company should be motivated and reputation does matter, and that’s true all over the world. This now works in eight countries from China to Brazil and reaches more than 60,000 workers.
And third, we continue to work on community education and awareness, largely through a partnership with MTV called MTV EXIT that has reached more than 300 million households in over 25 countries. And those kinds of efforts are critical.
One of the more recent things that we’ve done is to make sure in our humanitarian response during conflict and crisis and during the current response happening right now in the Central African Republic, that we’re ensuring that CTIP programs are funded and integrated into these efforts. We all know, as the Secretary noted, that conflict environments are where people are particularly vulnerable and those environments with very weak existing institutions are even higher on the vulnerability list.
And then finally, we have completed the implementation of our CTIP code of conduct, which is the training for our 9,600 employees, and now we’re extending that to our contract partners. We started implementation of this, in particular, with some of our security contractors in Afghanistan and elsewhere under the assumption that that would be a good place to start. But making sure all of the partners we deploy all over the world are trained and can be eyes and ears and mitigate risk and know where to report suspicious behavior has been an important part of our commitment to this group.
But thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Raj, thank you very much. Now we’d like to hear from EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien.
MS. BERRIEN: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Kerry. It’s an honor to be here representing the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and we welcome the opportunity to partner with you and the task force to address the urgent crisis of human trafficking. Like all members of this task force, we are working to raise public awareness about this problem. But the EEOC’s unique contribution to the fight against modern day slavery is our work to make trafficking victims whole by obtaining civil remedies for them such as back pay and emotional distress damages for discrimination suffered in the workplace.
Our strategic enforcement plan prioritizes issues affecting vulnerable populations, including the victims of human trafficking. One of our recently resolved cases highlights the pivotal role of the EEOC in the fight against human trafficking. In EEOC v. Hill Country Farms, doing business as Henry’s Turkey Service, the EEOC obtained a $240 million jury verdict which was subsequently reduced to comply with statutory caps on behalf of 32 men with intellectual disabilities who had been forced to work for years in deplorable conditions at an Iowa poultry processing plant. The EEOC alleged and proved that Henry’s Turkey Service subjected the workers to verbal abuse and physical harassment, restricted their movement, denied them medical treatment, and placed them in substandard housing. It was indeed a victory and yet small compensation for the years of damage and the years of harm and injury that these men had experienced.
The Americans with Disabilities Act violations that we proved in that case and the subsequent news coverage which reached not only across the country, but across the globe, are helping to raise awareness about this very urgent issue, and yet we are delighted and pleased to be at the table with all of you at the task force because we recognize that it is by working together that we will work best and by working together that we will be most effective in bringing to an end once and for all the problem of modern day slavery.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to share lessons from our work and to learn from you as well as we fight this good and extremely important fight together. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Jacqueline. We’re going to have our final report before we turn to Tina for a little way-ahead discussion to wrap us up here and a couple closing comments that I’ll make. But Stephanie O’Sullivan is the Deputy Director of National Intelligence. She’s going to share some thoughts about the outreach as well as some of the areas of particular concern for the intelligence community.
MS. O’SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Combating trafficking in human persons is unquestionably a moral fight. It is also a national security problem, contributing to instability, corruption, and crime around the globe. Over the past year, the intelligence community has increased our focus in this fight, uncovering linkages between human trafficking and organized criminal networks.
We are also participating in the pilot project that started with training consular officers in Brazil, and in the coming year of this project, our goal is to help close our knowledge gap on criminal groups engaged in human trafficking and to uncover global trafficking patterns by information sharing, information discovered in the course of business with our law enforcement and intelligence contacts. We look forward to continuing to be a part of this fight.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Stephanie, very, very much. And now our Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls – Tina, you help pave the way ahead here, and we’ll wrap up.
MS. TCHEN: Oh, thank you. Thank you, Secretary Kerry, for your leadership, for your work on this, for Ambassador CdeBaca’s work, and to all of the members of the cabinet and all of our Administration leaders. I really want to thank you for the work on this. I will say it is incredibly gratifying and exciting to hear the depth of commitments that are represented around the table here, the strength of your conviction, and the sustained effort that this represents, which is what’s really required to really end slavery, as the President has called upon us all to do.
As many around the table have said, I’m also personally fueled by this. Probably one of the most harrowing, heart-wrenching, and yet somewhat inspiring meetings I’ve had since my time here in the White House was with survivors who are from a blocks – just blocks away from this White House. There is human trafficking happening among children in this city at the age of my teenage daughter. And to know that and realize that is to just be recommitted every day to addressing this issue.
Quite briefly, just – I think our collective way ahead as an Administration is in several areas, as the Secretary’s laid out and as all of you have. One is over the next year to continue to work on our coordinated government-wide approach on addressing victim assistance informed by the experience of survivors and supporting survivor leadership. We’re going to secondly make sure that law enforcement has the tools that they need at all levels – state, local, federal, and international. We’re going to continue to work to address our entire federal supply chain to address and fully implement the President’s Executive Order. And we will continue to do the outreach that everyone has identified.
I hope that those watching this and in our NGO communities and survivors themselves see from the demonstrated commitment around the table here – this is just remarkable to have every arm of the federal government so deeply committed to this and showing it by your actions today – want survivors to know that as Tony laid out and the President committed, we do see you and hear you and we are committed as a federal government to standing behind you and with you.
And then with that, before we get to the closing remarks, it’s my pleasure to sort of do the interactive media part – (laughter) – of our presentation, and that is to introduce the Department of Justice “Faces of Human Trafficking” PSA, which I think they debuted in January. This is aimed at raising awareness on human trafficking, how anyone can be a victim, how survivors of crime have very diverse backgrounds. And I think we will have an opportunity to see that.
SECRETARY KERRY: Great.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s a good job, Tina. It’s a good inspiration on which to wrap up the meeting here. Look, I don’t want to give a prepared close here, but I’ll say to everybody that listening to all of you really is impressive, and I hope everybody got the sense of what everybody is doing, because it’s not a small deal. But as I was sitting here thinking about it, I was saying to myself, “This is a massive undertaking,” and we’re all kind of doing our thing, which is good, but I think we have to kind of take it up a notch and we can’t (inaudible).
We have 2014, 2015, and 2016. It’s a pretty long time. I think we ought to try to figure out how we all integrate this more, and I think we ought to probably do some homework about this, Luis – is I don’t do this on every trip, and I should. Every one of us who travel, every one of us who interact should be raising this in every meeting anywhere we go. And we should figure out how we create a climate of impunity – of destruction of the impunity. There’s impunity out there and we have to hold people accountable. And people have to know the impunity is going to (inaudible).
I think there’s several critical things to making that happen, the most important of which strikes me as being public awareness – letting people in bus stations know and be aware to catch five kids being torn from the bus and – I mean, this kind of thing – there are all kinds of ways of observing this. And these people have to move one way or the other to get from where they are to where they’re going and to where they wind up. And you have to be pretty blind not to know there’s a factory working somewhere and people are in there, something’s going on, it’s got barbed wire, the windows are shut. I mean, come on. We got to get prosecutors across the country completely tuned into this.
And so Jim, I think the whole – we got to raise the level in every DA’s office. We ought to do it with the federal attorneys when they cut a deal with their district attorneys and state prosecutors and so forth and all down the chain. And I think if we do that more, we may find that we’re really cutting into it a little more – we raise the level of prosecutions, we put this on the table, because 21-, 29 million people – who knows? But it’s a stunning underground impact on the economy, not to mention the damage that is done for a lifetime to people and to communities and families.
So I think if we did that, that would be really good to try to figure out, everybody in your own mind, how do we integrate this more into our Department, and how do we integrate it more into the cross-pollinated efforts of all of us together? Embassy – I’m going to get every ambassador out there doing more than I think we’re doing today, every consulate – 275 posts, boom. And they have Commerce Department and FBI and all the other agencies in there. We ought to be working it integrated.
So that would be my feeling that comes out of this, because we could go on and on and have a lot of meetings and wind up in four years, and we’ll feel great. We’ll have done a lot. But we won’t have done as much as we can. And I think we ought to be thinking about this is worth it, and the President’s priority on it is absolutely correct, and we could have a profound impact. And we need to think about, Tony, how we do that in some tough places like the Gulf, parts of Africa, different places where we’re going to go and visit. There’s a lot on the line in these places.
So that’s my thought to everybody, and I think if we can follow up on that, Luis, it’d be terrific. And thank you for your terrific efforts through the year and your leadership on this. I think everybody appreciates it very much. And thank you, all of you, for taking times – hard to find time for anything, but thank you all for coming together. It’s very important. Appreciate it. Stand adjourned.