As Secretary of State John Kerry recently noted, there are more than 20 million people enslaved around the world, and we each have a responsibility to help put an end to this crime. This is why the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, under the leadership of Ambassador Luis Cdebaca, is carrying the fight against human trafficking around the world. Here in Cambodia, the U.S. Embassy has made this fight one of our top priorities. During President Obama’s visit to Cambodia in 2012, his senior White House advisors Valerie Jarrett and Samantha Power (now U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) highlighted this issue and met with survivors of trafficking and representatives from leading anti-trafficking NGOs during a discussion that I hosted. It is heart-wrenching to hear so many stories of Cambodians forced to work in inhuman conditions or subjected to sexual exploitation. The U.S. Embassy remains committed to working alongside Cambodians to advance efforts to end human trafficking in this country.
Human trafficking is one of the toughest human rights challenges of our time. The U.S. government has been leading the global fight against human trafficking by focusing on the four Ps: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership. Each year, the U.S. Department of State publishes the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which documents the nature and scope of human trafficking in countries around the world, including the United States, and identifies a broad range of anti-trafficking actions that governments can take. Carefully compiled by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the report is the world’s most comprehensive review of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts.
Using the TIP Report’s recommendations, the U.S. Embassy actively engages with the Cambodian government to explore ways to improve local capacity to fight trafficking. Multiple U.S. agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations, and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, work together to help their Cambodian counterparts strengthen law enforcement and prosecution of trafficking cases. To enhance our anti-trafficking efforts, the Embassy conducted an anti-trafficking training this month for every one of our American and Cambodian staff. The training was presented by an inter-agency group – including experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of State – to help our staff learn ways to identify trafficking victims and prevent others from falling victim to trafficking.
In addition to drawing on the strengths of other U.S. agencies and supporting their work, partnership with civil society is an absolutely critical component of our fight against human trafficking. For that reason we are working to improve cooperation between the Cambodian government and civil society and we support a number of programs that strengthen NGOs so that they can respond to victims’ needs and more effectively educate vulnerable communities about how to protect themselves.
As we think about the victims of human trafficking, let us also remember that their hope for regaining freedom and dignity depends on our commitment to make a difference. I hope that recognition of the “United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons” this week helps to inspire concerted efforts by governments, civil society, and individuals to end trafficking in persons.
I encourage all of you to visit the web page of the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, where you can read the 2014 TIP Report and learn more about the actions that you can take to help combat human trafficking: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/index.htm.