Febrey to Testify on Multi-Sector Response to Human Trafficking
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First’s Annick Febrey today will urge members of Congress to support efforts to end slave labor in the United States and abroad, including by increasing proper enforcement, training, resources, and collaboration between the government, private sector, and civil society. Febrey will testify before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in their hearing on “Multi-Sector Partnerships to Combat Human Trafficking” this afternoon.
“We are pressing the U.S. government and business community to lead the fight against human trafficking because American leadership is essential in engaging the international community and in developing multilateral and multi-sector partnerships,” noted Febrey in her prepared testimony. “Efforts to end the U.S. role in the perpetuation of this crime are critical. We should set an example for other countries by eradicating forced labor from the supply chains of American companies and facilitating the types of collaboration necessary to investigate and convict traffickers for their crimes both at home and abroad.”
Human Rights First notes that holding traffickers accountable can be challenging as trafficking cases can be difficult to identify, investigate and prosecute and therefore only a small fraction of reported cases are prosecuted. In 2016, there were 9,071 trafficking convictions globally; an improvement over the previous year’s 6,615, but still a drop in the bucket when considering the estimated 20.9 million individuals suffering at the hands of traffickers annually.
In 2016 Congress took action that has the potential to substantially decrease the market for slave labor globally by closing the “consumptive demand loophole,” as part of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA). However, nearly two years after the provision passed, there is little to show for it. Human Rights First urges the White House to establish a strong interagency process, and to implement recommendations set forth by the forced labor-focused working group at the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC).
“At its core, slavery is about the dehumanization of people vulnerable to those who take advantage of them for personal gain. The rise of modern slavery is one of the tragic consequences of intractable problems like poverty, lack of educational opportunities, war, and the absence of the rule of law. It is also a problem that this Congress can do something about,” added Febrey.