Thank you, Chairmen Hunter and Smith. It is a pleasure to be here today and provide you with information on government action to combat human trafficking.
I would like to acknowledge and greatly thank the Congress for making human trafficking, or modern-day slavery a high priority. Because of early support from leaders including the late Senator Sam Wellstone, Senators Brownback, Schumer, Representatives Smith and Lantos and many others, human trafficking has stood “front and center” for this Administration, numerous political leaders, human rights activists, law enforcement groups and many others dedicated to its demise. Because of Congressional support, the 2000 TVPA and 2003 TVPRA produced tremendous action around the world. As a result, we are combating human trafficking by punishing traffickers, protecting victims and mobilizing U.S. government agencies to wage a global anti-trafficking campaign. Our combined, multi-faceted efforts to end modern-day slavery have truly enjoyed bi-partisan support. Thanks to your advocacy and hard work, this tragedy is finally receiving its due time and attention, and we’re seeing real results.
In addition to my role as director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department, I serve as chairman of the Senior Policy Operating Group, which implements the policies set forth by the President’s Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons headed by Secretary Powell. One of the notable achievements of the Senior Policy Operating Group has been increasing the coordination of U.S. agencies in anti-trafficking in persons efforts. Each of our 11 government agencies involved in anti-TIP efforts, including the Department of Defense, now has a strategic plan to guide its actions to end modern-day slavery. This is good for accountability and good for maximizing our success against trafficking.
But while this coordination is obviously good, I’d like to tell you why it’s so vitally important for the United States to accelerate its progress when it comes to combating human trafficking.
TIP as Multi-Dimensional Threat
Trafficking in Persons violates the universal human right to life, liberty and freedom from slavery in all its forms. Victims endure brutal conditions that result in physical, sexual and psychological trauma. Children often suffer the worst abuses since they are easily controlled and forced into domestic service, armed conflict and other hazardous forms of work. Human trafficking also contributes to the breakdown of law, undermining government efforts to exert authority and threatening the security of vulnerable populations. Trafficking in persons is often linked to organized crime and profits from trafficking operations help fuel other illegal activity. This further threatens the national security of countries creating a destabilizing effect particularly in post-conflict and lesser-developed countries where the rule of law is more easily broken down.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has increased its efforts to work with the Department of Defense to recognize these grave and serious concerns.
DOS Coordination with DOD on anti-TIP Measures and Initiatives
Historically, human trafficking has followed market demand. Unfortunately, human trafficking, especially for women and girls forced into prostitution, has followed demand where a multitude of U.S. and foreign aid workers, humanitarian workers, civilian contractors, and yes, uniformed personnel, operate. It is a shame and disgrace when any person’s human rights and dignities are violated. It’s an even greater shame when a U.S. citizen or service member, the latter who have the responsibility to protect us from threats to our national security, commits such a grave crime. More importantly, exploitation in this manner can support organized crime, threatening the very security that service members and contractors have as their mission.
I am pleased to say today, however, that progress has indeed been made. Human trafficking is being seriously addressed by my office and top USG leaders, including leaders at the Defense Department. While there is still much more to be done, I have witnessed ground-breaking interest and actions by the Pentagon.
Some of these actions, which I am proud to say our office has helped to inspire and be inspired by, are:
-A “zero-tolerance” memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz which outlines DoD’s stand on trafficking in persons.
-An anti-TIP training program for “all hands” deploying overseas. Our office collaborated closely with DoD on crafting this curriculum, providing valuable input from our current CIVPOL training courses and reviewing and revising drafts during program development.
-Recommendations for a change to DoD’s Uniform Code of Military Justice – the equivalent of our civilian criminal code—that a new charge be added to specifically address the act of patronizing prostitution.
If adopted, this measure would be a tremendous and major advance supporting the goals and policies outlined in NSPD-22. This UCMJ article would support the abolitionist approach to trafficking in persons by not focusing punishment on the victims, rather by opposing prostitution and related activities as a contributing factor to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons. With the Pentagon’s cooperation, this would serve as an important, progressive measure, which many states are now considering as well.
We also funded the Center for Strategic and International Studies, for Dr. Sarah Mendelson to carry out research on the connection between human trafficking and peacekeeping operations, especially in the Balkans. We are currently reviewing her just-completed summary of this research and hope to be provided with candid insight into where we need to do better in this area, and more importantly, how.
Clearly then, in many ways, Defense has taken seriously the President’s charge to combat TIP, for an agency composed of some 3-million members serving in most every corner of the world.
It is also noteworthy to recognize here that the Defense Department is beginning to implement these major measures during a time of heavy military action, as the United States confronts two major theater wars concurrently.
DOS perspective on Human Trafficking in the Republic of Korea
One country we know you are particularly interested in is South Korea. As with all of the countries we rate in our annual Trafficking in Persons Report, Korea’s rating is based on the government’s actions and political will to combat TIP in-country. South Korea is a source, transit and destination country for women from the Philippines, Thailand and other countries of Southeast Asia who are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The Korean government fully complies with the minimum standards to end trafficking and has shown a steady commitment to support victims, prosecute traffickers and improve national laws to fight trafficking.
Last year the Korean Government worked with U.S. Forces Korea to identify brothels suspected of exploiting trafficking victims and bar U.S. service members’ access to them. In January, Korean policemen spoke to 777 foreign women near the U.S. bases, advising them of trafficking issues and their rights.
In conclusion, we realize that much remains to be done on all fronts, within all U.S. government agencies to monitor and combat human trafficking. Our goal, to abolish slavery in its’ multitude of forms and manifestations will require more work, constant vigilance, attention and actions. This human rights violation and security threat, like a war, is something that cannot be eradicated overnight. It will take years of hard work and dedication to combat modern-day slavery as we know it today.
We must quickly move certain items on the DOD agenda out of the planning stages and into the field. Victims of human trafficking deserve our most dedicated resolve, and they don’t have time for bureaucratic delays from any of our government agencies. Likewise, our military’s important mission of providing much needed stability and security to many nations of the world, must also not be compromised through actions, whether direct or indirect, that support organized crime. And as we try to win the hearts and minds of those we are fighting to protect, which includes our own citizens, it is imperative that the reputation and integrity of our missions not be jeopardized.
We are encouraged by the progressive action taken within the last year by Secretary Rumsfeld and stand ready to assist in any way we can to help them achieve the President’s and your mandate to abolish modern-day slavery, while at the same time producing environments that foster human rights, healthy societies and, perhaps most relevant to DoD’s work, safe and secure communities worldwide.
I am now happy to take your questions.