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Human rights coalition applauds new White House initiatives to combat modern slavery and human trafficking

Media Contact:

Holly Frew
World Vision Media Relations Manager

Washington, DC (September 25, 2012) The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking(ATEST) issued the following statements today, responding to President Obama's announcement of several new Administration initiatives to tackle human trafficking and modern day slavery including:

  • Executive order strengthening protections in federal contracts that
    increases protections to ensure that the supply chains used by the Federal
    Government are not tainted by trafficking or modern-day slavery.
  • Tools and training to identify and assist trafficking victims
    including training and guidance to federal prosecutors, law enforcement
    officials, and immigration judges; commercial transportation officials;
    state and local law enforcement partners; and state workforce agencies and
  • Increased resources for victims of human trafficking including a
    number of new partnerships and initiatives to expand services and legal
    assistance to victims of trafficking.
  • Strategic action plan to strengthen services for trafficking victims
    developed by the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat
    Human Trafficking in Persons.

"We strongly commend President Obama for renewing and strengthening his commitment to combating modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and in particular the new executive order banning recruitment fees and putting other new protections in place to ensure that the Federal Government's supply chain is free of trafficked and slave labor. President Obama's statement today and his announcement of new initiatives are an important recognition of the size and severity of the crisis of human trafficking and modern day slavery both abroad and within our own borders. We also look forward to working with the Administration to translate its commitment to create a strategic plan on strengthening services for trafficking survivors into truly effective action."

—David Abramowitz, Vice President for Policy & Government Relations,Humanity United and Spokesperson for ATEST

"Government and private-sector supply chains for goods and services often include migrant or immigrant workers who are hired to do low-wage jobs--for which they may pay unscrupulous labor brokers and foreign recruiters excessive fees, landing them in debt bondage, forced labor or other forms of human trafficking. The Solidarity Center applauds the Obama Administration's pledge that U.S. tax dollars will not support human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains. And a strict, no-fees policy is a major step in preventing trafficking of workers."

—Neha Misra, Senior Specialist, Migration and Human Trafficking,Solidarity Center

"Today President Obama rightly declared that fighting modern slavery is one of the great human rights battles of our era. Importantly the President's words help to shift the paradigm from treating trafficked persons as criminals to seeing them as crime victims to be protected. This is a core belief here at Polaris Project and we welcome all efforts to ensure that victims of human trafficking are treated with dignity and respect and provided with comprehensive social services. This speech and his policy announcements represent a turning point in the fight against human trafficking and clearly signal that this is a real problem here in our country. We must heed this call and redouble our efforts to create a world without modern slavery."

—Bradley Myles, Executive Director, Polaris Project

"The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking which provides direct services to human trafficking survivors in the United States including shelter, case management and legal services knows that providing the needed services and support to human trafficking survivors in the United States can only be done in partnership with survivors themselves. CAST thanks the president for highlighting the voice of human trafficking survivors in the anti-trafficking movement and expressing a strong commitment to increasing access to comprehensive services for survivors who often remain unidentified and toil in forced labor or commercial sex for years without support or recourse because of lack of funding for specialized services. We stand with the president in his commitment to assist every community, every business, and every nation combat the injustice of modern-day slavery."

—Kay Buck, Executive Director, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST)

"How many slave-made goods are flowing into our lives is still unknown, but no consumer thinks slavery is a bargain. It's time for leaders in the Global Business Coalition against Trafficking to dig deep into their supply chains and work for a slave-free world. At the same time, the president and
Congress should enact the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act, to ensure that all businesses, not just business leaders, have to
report on what if anything they're doing to address slavery in their own operations."

—Kevin Bales, Co-founder, Free the Slaves

"We applaud the President's bold vision and commitment for the United States to remain a leader in the fight against human trafficking, and we look forward to working with his Administration on ensuring this bold vision is executed. For the United States to truly remain a leader in this fight,
Congress must turn the President's words into action and pass the centerpiece of all human trafficking laws - the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This is not a left or right issue. It's a right or wrong issue, and both houses of Congress must pass a bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act as soon as possible."

—Jesse Eaves, Senior Policy Advisor for Child Protection, World Vision

"Today President Obama gave us a renewed Call to Action to step-up our efforts to better identify and respond to human trafficking here in the United States and to put an end to it. We need to do a better job of ensuring that children across this country are not arrested for being sexually exploited by traffickers, but provided with the services they need to recover and prosper into adulthood. We also need to harness the commitment the President spoke of today that involves the coordination across Federal agencies to create and implement a truly comprehensive national action plan that works to identify and serve all human trafficking victims in need."

—Marina Colby, Director of Public Policy, ECPAT-USA

"The President's new Executive Order puts the power of the office behind finding a solution to the complex and rampant nature of human trafficking and slavery in our global supply chains, particularly the problem of debt bondage resulting from unethical labor recruitment and hiring. It's an historic announcement, and deeply gratifying to those of us who have been working with The White House and multinational companies to protect vulnerable workers in this country, and around the world."

—Dan Viederman, CEO, Verité

"Safe Horizon agrees with President Obama that modern slavery is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time and we are inspired by the administration's commitment to addressing this issue. Safe Horizon is constantly encouraged by the strength and resilience of our clients as they struggle to find emergency housing and meet their basic needs. The persistence required for survivors to find living wage work opportunities, help law enforcement prosecute traffickers or work to reunite with their children is astounding, but they do it every day. We are eager to see how the administration's new national action plan will increase awareness of this crime and support for victims of modern slavery."

—Keeli Sorensen, Training and Advocacy Director, Anti-trafficking Program, Safe Horizon

"This is a critical step to take - in highlighting the conditions that foreign workers on U.S. government contracts can face overseas, this Executive Order has the potential to bring freedom to victims of modern slavery. The order also helps build a crucial foundation of credibility: As the U.S. seeks to come alongside other nations and help them address trafficking within their own borders, we're demonstrating our commitment to addressing it ourselves as well,"

—Holly Burkhalter, Vice President of Government Relations, International Justice Mission (IJM)

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