Business, Government, and Law Enforcement Leaders Urge Congress to Increase Funding for DOJ Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First Bankrupt Slavery campaign ambassadors called for Congress to increase resources appropriated to the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU). The call came in a letter to leadership on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, requesting $8.1 million to ensure the HTPU continues to keep pace with an increasing workload of complex human trafficking cases. Signatories of the letter include leaders from the business sector, law enforcement, the military, and government.
“We must put exploiters out of business and bring them to justice. Failing to hold traffickers accountable will leave us struggling to slow and eventually eradicate slavery altogether,” wrote the ambassadors.
The HTPU, which works with prosecutors and law enforcement to more effectively coordinate human trafficking investigations, also leads 12 Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams to enhance cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor. With this modest increase of $2.8 million in funding, the HTPU estimates it could increase the number of number of trafficking defendants charged by 49 percent over a two-year period.
There are an estimated 20.9 million victims of modern-day slavery around the world today, generating $150 billion annually in illicit profits. The State Department’s most recent annual Trafficking in Persons report shows there were fewer than 4,500 trafficking convictions globally in 2014, 184 of which were in the United States.
Human Rights First notes that the requested funds will ensure that continued efforts will be commensurate with the problem, increasing prosecutions and ultimately decreasing the number of current and new victims of this global scourge.
Signatories of the letter include General Charles C. Krulak USMC (Ret.), former commandant of the United States Marine Corps; Louis J. Freeh, former FBI director; Ernie Allen, principal of Allen Global Consulting LLC; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney; David Arkless, founding counselor and former co-chair of the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking; William A. Bell, Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama; Laurel Bellows, former president of the American Bar Association; Fran Della Badia, retail executive; Mark P. Lagon, former ambassador in the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Amy Lyons, former FBI assistant director; Elisa Massimino, president and CEO of Human Rights First; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former chairman and CEO of Carlson; John Pepper, former CEO of Procter & Gamble; Lisa Prager, former Department of Commerce Acting Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement; and Bart Schwartz, chairman of Guidepost Solutions LLC.
“Most traffickers operate with relative impunity. It is essential we continue to invest in victim services,” wrote the ambassadors, “but we must also significantly increase the risks to traffickers so that every victim rescued is not merely replaced with a new victim.”