Justice News

Remarks of Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams at the Department of Justice’s Summit on Combating Human Trafficking
Washington, DC
United States
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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery 

Good afternoon everyone.  My name is Beth Williams, and as Stacie mentioned, I am the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy.  I hope that it has been made clear today that combating human trafficking is a top priority of the Attorney General and of this Administration.  Human trafficking has been called modern-day slavery.  And appropriately so.   When you hear the victims’ stories and learn of the criminal acts involved, it is hard to imagine crimes more reprehensible.

Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosen understand that human trafficking is an offense against human dignity, and that it is a crucial part of the Department’s mission to fight it at every turn, and to bring those who perpetuate it and profit from it to justice.  To that end, the Department convicted a record 526 defendants in FY 2018, including those who recruit, patronize, and solicit children and other trafficked persons.  These are significant and incredibly difficult prosecutions.   And the men and women of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit in Civil Rights, and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division, as well as the many Assistant US Attorneys, victim witness coordinators, and agents in the field should be applauded.  Day after day, they are the ones who are bravely facing society’s worst, despite the heavy personal toll that it can take.

As you have also heard, the Department recently took down Backpage.com, the leading internet site facilitating sex trafficking of minors and adults, and obtained guilty pleas from Backpage.com, its CEO, and Marketing Director.  The significance of this cannot be overstated.  It should send a message to all that the Department will not turn a blind eye to those who profit from trafficking in persons.

With regard to profit, there is no question that human trafficking generates millions of dollars annually in illicit proceeds.  The Department is focused on making sure that the victims who are owed restitution receive it. I am therefore pleased to report that attorneys from the Office of Legal Policy helped lead a cross-component working group with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General to improve monetary restitution for victims, and developed training materials for federal prosecutors that will assist them in ensuring victim compensation. 

The fight against human trafficking continues, and today I have the honor of introducing someone who is dedicated to leading that fight—our keynote speaker, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.  Confirmed by the Senate on May 16th of last year, Deputy Attorney General Rosen acts as the Department’s Chief Operating Officer and advises and assists the Attorney General in leading the Department’s more than 110,000 employees.

The Deputy Attorney General brings to the Department a wealth of litigation and policy expertise.  From 2003 to 2006, he served as General Counsel of the Department of Transportation.  And from 2006 to 2009, he served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget.  Moreover, immediately before his present appointment, the Deputy Attorney General served for two years as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, where he was the Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Transportation.  There, he worked on trafficking issues with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, including training to help operators identify human smuggling and trafficking on our highways.

Between his positions in government service, he was a litigation partner in private practice, where I first had the pleasure of working with him and getting to know him.

Deputy Attorney General Rosen received a B.A. with highest distinction from Northwestern University in 1979 and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1982.  He is a man committed to fairness, to justice, and to applying the full force of law to bring traffickers to justice.

Please join me in welcoming the 38th Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Jeffrey A. Rosen.

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated January 15, 2020