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May 30, 2014

The Campaign: Disrupting the Slavery Exploitation Network

Human Rights First has developed a new campaign to disrupt the “slavery exploitation network” – the range of criminal enterprises that organize and profit from the modern-day slave trade.   

Our goal is to reduce the incidence of human trafficking by promoting policies and generating political will to increase the risks, penalties, and punishments for those who enslave other human beings. 


The Problem: 

Human trafficking—for sex and labor—is a human rights scourge and a horrific crime.  It is also big business generating an estimated $150 billion dollars in profits for traffickers each year. This modern form of slavery has claimed an estimated 21 million victims worldwide and approximately 800,000 new victims are trafficked across international borders each year, the majority of them women and girls. Yet unlike the criminal networks that traffic in drugs and weapons, the exploiters of human beings have been largely immune from prosecution and punishment.

The Role of the United States: 

The legacy of American history demands that the United States set a leadership example in the world by forcefully addressing human slavery at home, and by pressing other countries to take effective actions to disrupt the slavery exploitation network.   The United States is both a source and destination country in the sex and labor trafficking supply network, and much more can be done at the federal, state, and local levels to bolster existing anti-trafficking laws.

Our Campaign: 

Human Rights First is seeking to change the calculus for exploiters.  We are working with international law enforcement, prosecutors, and financial sector experts to disrupt the business of slavery and at the same time mobilize high-profile individuals for a public education and advocacy campaign designed to build the political will needed to prioritize the issue of human trafficking.

Some key elements of our campaign in 2014 include: 

  • Convening a group of experts on prosecuting and disrupting the activities of mafias and other criminal networks, in particular those with success in weapons and narcotics trafficking, to identify how most effective approaches can be applied to the trafficking field.
  • Mapping how human trafficking networks conduct their businesses – and promoting policies to disrupt them.
  • Mobilizing influential leaders from the military, the transportation and hospitality sectors, law enforcement, and the finance and business communities to press for change.
  • Spotlighting cases of fugitive exploiters to press for their arrest.
  • Utilizing the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, in a major public education campaign to advance our goals.