New Survivors Council to Advise Federal Government on Anti-Trafficking Policy
On January 5th Secretary of State John Kerry chaired the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF). The PITF, created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), coordinates federal efforts to combat modern slavery from the cabinet level. At the annual meeting, agencies report on progress in four areas: victim services, rule of law, procurement and supply chains, and public awareness and outreach.
At the meeting Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, introduced the first-ever United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. It is comprised exclusively of survivors, giving survivor advocates a formal venue to provide input on federal anti-trafficking policies. Several years in the making, the council stems from the hard work of victim advocates and members of Congress who successfully included the Survivors of Human Trafficking Empowerment Act in the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. Last month President Obama appointed the following members to the council: Evelyn Chumbow, Harold d’Souza, Minh Dang, Tina Frundt, Ima Matul Maisaroh, Ronny Marty, Florencia Molina, Bukola Love Oriola, Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman, Sheila White, and Shandra Woworuntu. For more information on the appointees see the White House announcement.
Dismantling the business of human trafficking requires a multi-sector approach that increases the risk to traffickers and decreases their profits. To increase the risk, the U.S. government needs to step up prosecutions of all actors involved in the crime. Improving partnerships between survivor advocates and officials at all levels of government is critical to this goal.
Ima Matul said at the meeting, "As a collective group of survivors, we have dedicated a huge part of ourselves to the anti-trafficking movement, to respective advocacy efforts. Together, we are changing perception, fighting for justice, and ultimately, over the years, we are contributing to one shared goal: to end modern slavery everywhere it exists. We are a diverse group. Our individual experience as survivors will add a rich expertise to the council."
Human Rights First applauds the formation of the council and welcomes the appointees, who will add immense value to the administration’s efforts. To learn more about our approach to bankrupting slavery, see our blueprint on “How to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking.”