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Home / Press Release / Business, Government, and Civil Rights Leaders Develop Strategic Framework to Combat the Business of Human Trafficking
January 29, 2015

Business, Government, and Civil Rights Leaders Develop Strategic Framework to Combat the Business of Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. – Prominent leaders from the business and financial sectors, law enforcement, the military, federal, state and local government, and civil rights community today committed to join a major public education and advocacy effort to disrupt the business of human trafficking. The campaign ambassadors organized by Human Rights First is co-chaired by former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak (ret.) and former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis J. Freeh.  It plans to carry out a sustained campaign rooted in a strategic framework for how government, business, and law enforcement leaders must begin to take action to dismantle the criminal enterprise of human trafficking.

Today, the group announced its plan, writing:

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, a crime with global impact. There are an estimated 20.9 million victims of modern-day slavery around the world today, generating $150 billion annually in illicit profits. The human costs—in lives, dignity, and rights—are incalculable. While efforts to reduce the demand for slave labor and rescue victims are critical, unless we can reverse the risk-reward equation for perpetrators, we will struggle to keep pace with this growing illicit enterprise.

“The United States is a source, transit, and destination country in the global human trafficking business and must play a central role in combating this scourge. Our country has taken many important steps, including enacting and reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and acceding to the Palermo Protocol to the Transnational Crime Convention in 2005. But the numbers of victims and the profits made by exploiting them have continued to rise.

“We aim to disrupt the business of human trafficking by increasing the risk to perpetrators and diminishing their profits. Through cooperation between the U.S. government, private sector, and civil society, we will press for increased prosecutions and more robust criminal asset forfeiture proceedings, targeting all the enablers and participants in this criminal enterprise.

“Together, we pledge to put our individual and collective energies and influence behind a major public education and advocacy effort to disrupt the business of human trafficking.”

The group has endorsed the following strategic framework to guide their efforts:

  1. Prosecutions need to be increased in number and effectiveness in order to intensify the risks associated with trafficking. Prosecutions should encompass all actors in the exploitation network—from beginning to end of the exploitation chain. Cooperation between agencies and jurisdictions is essential in order to maximize these efforts.
  2. American companies can play a strategic role in disrupting the business of trafficking. In order to do this, they need the right incentives and tools.
  3. At its core, human trafficking is a financially motivated crime. To disrupt it, we must focus on drying up the profits. If we can eliminate the incentives that attract perpetrators into the business, we can begin to dismantle it.
  4. Trafficking prosecutions should consistently include criminal asset forfeitures in order to deter traffickers, dry up their profits, and provide restitution to victims.
  5. Human trafficking can affect legitimate businesses by damaging their brands, exposing them to legal liability, and ultimately hurting their profits. Businesses should identify and implement best practices for mapping their supply chains to ensure they are free from slave labor. The U.S. Government, as a major purchaser of goods and services, should also adopt and improve safeguards against human trafficking in its supply chains.
  6. Accurate and comprehensive data is essential in developing and evaluating strategies. The U.S. government should develop comprehensive and reliable statistics about trafficking in the United States.
  7. The priority of a societal problem is reflected in the public resources devoted to solving it. The United States should increase funding for combating trafficking.

As 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery in the United States, Human Rights First is urging the U.S. government to honor this proud moment in the nation’s history by restoring its commitment to end slavery.

Members of the ambassadors group include:  Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First; The Honorable Louis J. Freeh, Chairman, Freeh Group International Solutions, Former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation; General Charles C. Krulak, USMC (RET.), President, Birmingham-Southern College, Former Commandant, United States Marine Corps; David Abromowitz, Vice President, Policy & Government Relations, Humanity United; Ernie Allen, Founder & former President and CEO, International Center for Missing & Exploited Children,  Founder & former President and CEO, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children; Anita Alvarez, State’s Attorney, Cook County, Illinois; Beate Andrees, Head, Special Action Programme to Combat Forced LabourInternational Labour Organization; David Arkless, President, International, CDI Corporation, Founding Counselor and Former Co-Chair, Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking; The Honorable William A. Bell, Mayor, Birmingham, Alabama; Laurel Bellows, Managing Partner, The Bellows Law Group, Former President, American Bar Association; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Former Chairman and CEO, Carlson; Fran Della Badia, President, North American Retail, Coach, Inc.;  Barry Koch, Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, Western Union; The Honorable Mark P. Lagon, President, Freedom House, Former Ambassador, United States Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; The Honorable Daniel E. Lungren, Principal, Lungren Lopina LLC, Former Member of Congress (R-CA); Cindy McCain, Co-Chair, Arizona Human Trafficking Council; Kenneth Morris, Founder and President, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives; John Pepper, Honorary Co-Chair, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Former CEO, Procter & Gamble; Lisa Prager, Partner, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, United States Department of Commerce; Mike Rock, Vice President, External Relations, Union Pacific Railroad; Tracy Thompson, Assistant Attorney General, New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Chair, New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force; and The Honorable Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Former Ambassador and Director, United States Department of State, Office of Global Women's Issues.

For more information or to speak with members of the group, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org.