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Opening remarks from Condoleezza Rice:
Good morning. As many of you know, combating human trafficking is a top priority for the Bush Administration. Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable of our society, particularly women and children, and they use that vulnerability to enslave them.
We began issuing the Trafficking in Persons Report eight years ago, when President Bush first came to office. Today, because of our efforts, the efforts of our allies, and reports like the one we are releasing today, there is much greater global awareness about the brutality of human trafficking.
Globally, human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat: It deprives people of their human rights and dignity. It increases global health risks. It bankrolls the growth of organized crime, and it undermines the rule of law. In recent years, we have witnessed a hopeful global movement uniting civil society, governments, and international organizations -- not just to confront this crime, but to abolish it. Worldwide, the United States relies on a unique diplomatic tool in its bilateral and multilateral collaboration on this issue -- the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
Excerpts from the report:
Trafficking & Technology
At a recent U.S. conference on human trafficking, 17 year-old Rosita was describing the business mode of her boyfriend-trafficker. In contrast to many commonly heard stories of trafficking, Rosita was not held against her will in a back-alley brothel. Nor was she moved around on street circuit in a bad part of town. Instead, her trafficker was advertising on a popular internet list-serve where buyers and sellers are able to come together virtually to make business deals and exchanges. A description of the “service” was posted, along with the trafficker’s cell phone. Buyers called and made discrete arrangements. Following the business deal, Rosita was delivered to a home, a hotel, or other meeting place at an agreed upon time for an agreed upon price. Rosita was trafficked for prostitution in this manner when she was between the ages of 14 and 17.
This case had all the elements of common trafficking—Rosita was recruited as a child, and forced, by a violent and abusive boyfriend, to be sold for commercial sexual exploitation. What was different about the case was the trafficker’s use of new technologies to facilitate her sale. Numerous similar cases have emerged, illustrating the use of new technologies, such as cell phones, text messaging, and other phone technologies to facilitate business; chat rooms to exchange information on sex tourism sites around the world; social media and social networking to target, stalk, and land victims, as well as to convey, buy, and sell pornographic records of sex trafficking; instant messaging to communicate in real time with victims or targets; and more. In addition to phones and the Internet, traffickers may also be using new ubiquitous technologies such as chips, global positioning systems, and biometric data.
A two-pronged approach to addressing these developments is important. As a preliminary measure, countries should begin to document all cases in which new technologies are utilized by traffickers for either sex or labor trafficking. Such information is a necessary first step toward analyzing and designing interventions in cases where technology is used to facilitate trafficking.
At the same time, law enforcement should examine ways to utilize “reverse engineering” to combat sex trafficking, identifying ways to identify new victims and to obtain protection and services for them. New technologies can be harnessed for the good of identifying traffickers and customers, and to facilitate arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of the exploiters.
Trafficking & Migration
A number of governments, particularly within Asia and the Middle East, have entered into bilateral agreements or Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in order to encourage and formally manage the flow of migrant workers from one country to another. To date, however, very few if any of such agreements contain any provisions explicitly protecting the workers in question from conditions of forced labor or other forms of trafficking in persons. At the same time, the number of cases reported to the Department of State has raised concerns that labor trafficking is occurring within the context of this otherwise legal form of transnational labor migration.
An example of this phenomenon: A worker is recruited in his home town in a South Asian country for a two-year construction contract in a Gulf state. The labor recruiting company tells the worker that he will earn $250 a month in addition to overtime payments for more than 40 hours worked in a week, and he will receive free room, board, medical care, and one day off per week. Upon arrival, however, the worker discovers that he is to be paid $120 per month with no paid overtime, and deductions of $15 a month are to be taken from his paycheck for food. He was deceived by the labor recruiter, who collaborated with the worker’s Gulf state employer, and now he is exploited by the employer who has confiscated the worker’s passport and threatens to turn him over to immigration authorities as an undocumented migrant if he does not continue working. Through threatened abuse of the legal process (immigration laws) the employer has coerced the migrant worker to continue his labor on terms to which the laborer did not consent. This is trafficking in persons.
This is but one example of trafficking that has been reported to be occurring within the context of otherwise legal, transnational labor migration. In order to more effectively address such problems, source and destination governments are encouraged to collaborate, and where appropriate, to include in their MOUs and bilateral agreements specific measures to prevent trafficking in persons.
Governments participating in existing multilateral, regional, and sub-regional initiatives such as the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue are also encouraged to collaborate with the ILO, in light of its mandate to eliminate forced or compulsory labor.
Get the report here