Last week Deputy Attorney General James Cole spoke at a symposium on how the Department of Justice is continuing to fight human trafficking, both nationally and abroad. The symposium, titled “A Global Perspective on Human Trafficking,” was held at Yale Law School and sponsored by David B. Fein, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and the FBI. A panel presentation titled “Expanding our Reach: Law Enforcement and NGO Partnerships” was also held during the event. During the panel discussion representatives from law enforcement, victim service groups and non-governmental organizations discussed the critical need to establish support networks for the rescue of and transition services for these vulnerable victims of human trafficking.
At the event, Deputy Attorney General Cole spoke about the scourge of human trafficking and the department’s deep commitment to stopping it:
It seems almost unfathomable that today in the 21st Century, we still live in a world where human trafficking persists. And yet it exists and is often hiding in plain and painful sight. It’s the young woman who comes to America for the promise of a new life but finds herself enslaved and sold for sex. Or the child who grew up here in America but ran away from home only to find herself the victim of her desperate acceptance of help from the wrong person. Or the migrant worker who is deprived of identification, transportation, and access to money in order to ensure his total dependence on his employer. The Department of Justice is resolutely committed to preventing and combating human trafficking in all its forms. For Attorney General Holder and I, this is a deeply held conviction.
Within the Department of Justice, there are an array of components that work to combat human trafficking, including the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and the FBI. Additionally, the Office of Justice Programs provides critical funding and grants to states across the country, which help to combat human trafficking nationally and assist victim service organizations in local communities.
Vital partnerships with other federal authorities are also crucial to our efforts to combat human trafficking. These partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, international authorities, and non-governmental organizations have all been critical in combating instances of human trafficking nationally and worldwide.
Such programs and partnerships are proving to be effective. Last year, the Department of Justice charged a record number of defendants in human trafficking cases. Over the last three years, there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of charges. But we are not content to rest on these achievements. We are determined to continue to increase the impact of our efforts.
Last year, the Deputy Attorney General announced the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative, an interagency collaboration among the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor to further streamline investigations and prosecutions for human trafficking offenses. These ACTeams are now fully operational and are providing enhanced strategic coordination among agencies and federal prosecutors.
We know that pursuing justice within our borders is not enough. That’s why our efforts are also worldwide, echoing the Deputy Attorney General’s commitment today to fighting human trafficking globally. Through our International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), Department officials have helped to train hundreds of prosecutors, investigators and law enforcement officials in seven partner countries spanning three continents.
We also continue to work with the State Department to engage more international partners on human trafficking issues, ensuring that they are also pursuing aggressive enforcement efforts against traffickers and have the tools to do so. Forging these partnerships across borders helps us continue to focus on prevention of trafficking rings while also making sure that victims, who have been irreparably harmed by human trafficking, have the appropriate services and resources at their disposal.
At the Department of Justice, we are committed to continuing to build strategic partnerships across international borders, all with the goal of fighting human trafficking. While we are encouraged by our recent achievements, there is still much work to be done. We will continue to strive for prevention but also justice on behalf of victims of human trafficking.
Read the press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office: U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI and Yale Law School Host Human Trafficking Syposium and the full remarks from Deputy Attorney General James Cole.