United States will not stop until human trafficking is over: Mike Pompeo
The US will not stop until human trafficking, which is a global problem, becomes a thing of the past, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
Pompeo's remarks came in the backdrop of the recent separation of some 2,300 children from their parents as a result of the Trump administration's crackdown against the illegal immigrants, sparking a global outcry.
"There remains a great deal of work left to do. The world should know that we will not stop until human trafficking is a thing of the past," Pompeo said at the 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report Launch Ceremony, which was alos attended by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump.
This year's TIP report highlights the critical work of local communities towards stopping traffickers and providing support to victims, he said.
"Human trafficking is a global problem, but it's a local one too. Human trafficking can be found in a favourite restaurant, a hotel, downtown, a farm, or in their neighbour's home," Pompeo said as he released the report yesterday.
The congressional-mandated annual report said that separating children from their parents can cause lasting psychological damage.
"Children in institutional care, including government-run facilities, can be easy targets for traffickers," the report said.
"Even at their best, residential institutions are unable to meet a child's need for emotional support that is typically received from family members or consistent caretakers with whom the child can develop an attachment," the State Department said in its report.
In a background briefing with reporters, senior State Department officials were asked about the recent separation of some 2,300 children from their parents in the crackdown against illegal immigrants.
"We've noted, that there are vulnerabilities in the United States as elsewhere, when there are children either crossing borders alone or in government care, whether temporary or long-term.
"We work with our colleagues, and they have systems in place to search for trafficking indicators so that if there are cases where there are victims already or that problems arise, that they identify those problems, get the victims the care that they need and investigate the crimes," an official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The official argued that they were two distinct crimes of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
The State Department's report is focused on human trafficking, which is a crime of exploitation of individuals.
Whereas smuggling is a crime against the state and illegal crossing of a border entry into a country, so it's a crime of movement that is not necessary, the official said.
"Sometimes it may be part of the crime of human trafficking, but our work focuses on the exploitation, so not smuggling,” the official said.
During the report launch ceremony, Ivanka felicitated 10 remarkable TIP report heroes, including Sunita Danuwar from Nepal.
In his remarks, Pompeo said to win this fight, national governments must empower local communities to proactively identify human trafficking and develop local solutions to address it.
"As we have every year, the report also points out which countries are improving efforts – their efforts to tackle the crime and which countries are making it easier to carry it out," he said.
Pompeo listed out countries where there was an urgent need for improvement.
"We read the horrific accounts of human trafficking and abuse of African migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya, resulting in modern-day slave markets," he said.
"We've engaged the Libyan Government of National Accord to bring the perpetrators to justice, including complicit government officials. We welcome its commitment to doing so and look forward to seeing real action," he said.
Pompeo said Myanmar's armed forces and others in the Rakhine State had dislocated hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas and members of other ethnic groups, many of whom were exploited through the region as a result.
Some in the Myanmar military also recruited child soldiers and subjected adults and children from ethnic minority groups to forced labour, he said.
There is the tragic example of forced labour in North Korea, he said, adding that an untold number of North Korean citizens were subjected to forced labour overseas by their own government, in many cases with the tacit approval of host governments.
"In Iran, trafficking victims are punished – the victims are punished – for acts they are forced to commit. For example, sex trafficking victims may face the death penalty for committing adultery," Pompeo said.
"This is a horrible perversion of justice by a corrupt regime. We take these stories to heart. We use them as fuel to motivate us to action as we work together to end human trafficking once and for all," Pompeo said.