FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, we remember the battles our predecessors fought to overcome the scourge of slavery, and the persistence of a twisted logic that continues to deny people the right to live freely even today.
Indeed, slavery is not yet a problem of the past, and abolition is not a movement that can be consigned to history. We are faced with the reality of a thriving modern slave industry, which operates in dark shadows and broad daylight, resulting in an illicit trade of millions of dollars and countless damaged lives. Some 12.3 million adults and children worldwide are relegated to forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution, many of them young girls, some of them Americans. More than 100 countries still do not have laws, policies or regulations in place to prevent the deportation of trafficking victims.
The Obama Administration has been at the forefront of global efforts to combat human trafficking, and we are starting here at home. We have launched the comprehensive “Blue Campaign,” spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to increase public awareness, strengthen law enforcement and expand assistance for trafficking victims. We are also collaborating with many other global anti-trafficking efforts, including the UN Office of Drugs and Crime’s “Blue Heart” campaign and the United Kingdom’s “Blue Blindfold” campaign.
Moreover, to increase our effectiveness in this battle, the United States has—for the first time—assessed itself in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, a yearly evaluation by the U.S. Department of State on global initiatives to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons.
One decade ago, the UN adopted the Palermo Protocol, the first international instrument demanding that all acts of human trafficking be criminalized. And this year, the UN adopted a Global Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, with U.S. support. While we have made many important strides in the last 10 years, we have much more work to do to halt this growing threat.
We can no longer allow millions of men, women and children to suffer in silence. To end these despicable crimes and protect our common humanity, all nations must recognize the persistence of the slave trade, and spare no effort in abolishing it.
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