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February 25, 2015

End Modern Slavery Initiative Act Would Direct Crucial Resources Toward Combatting Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. - Human Rights First today urged the swift passage of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, a bill that would create a $1.5 billion fund to bolster law enforcement in targeted geographic areas with the goal of reducing the incidence of modern slavery. The call came in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, highlighting the need for increased resources to develop and implement successful strategies to increase the risks for perpetrators and enablers, and decrease the profitability of this horrific crime. The bill was introduced yesterday by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

"The financial resources currently at work fighting modern slavery are alarmingly low…Eradicating it will require significant additional resources, as well as sustained focus and cooperation among nations, state and local governments, law enforcement, private companies, and civil society,” wrote Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. "The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 will make a substantial contribution to this effort. We applaud your leadership in putting it forward, and we urge its swift passage."

The End Modern Slavery Initiative would set up a non-profit organization to pool government and private funding to combat trafficking and slavery worldwide. The $1.5 billion fund would start with a commitment of $250 million from the U.S. government, contingent on raising the remaining funding from foreign governments and private entities over a seven-year period. This fund would bolster law enforcement in select geographic areas with a goal of reducing the incidence of slavery by at least 50% during the duration of the project. This concentrated investment in key geographic areas is crucial to identifying those successful methods of increasing the risk to traffickers that can be scaled up and replicated across the globe. After five years, the Board of the End Modern Slavery Initiative is required to present a plan for eradicating slavery once and for all, based on the results of the projects monitored by the fund. 

Human trafficking is a profit-driven enterprise in which perpetrators operate with relative impunity. While the International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 21 million people are enslaved globally, the State Department’s most recent annual Trafficking in Persons report states that fewer than 9,500 human trafficking cases were prosecuted worldwide in 2013, resulting in less than 6,000 reported convictions.

As 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the passage of the 13th Amendment the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery, Human Rights First has brought together a group of prominent leaders from the business, law enforcement, military, government, and civil rights communities who have committed to joining a major public education and advocacy effort focused on disrupting the business of human trafficking. The group has developed a strategic framework for how government, business, and law enforcement can begin to take action to dismantle the $150 billion criminal enterprise of modern slavery.

For more information or to speak with Massimino, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.