U.S. Department of Labor commemorates National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Martha Newton released the following statement recognizing National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month:
“National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month is made all the more resonant by the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This landmark law provided increased protections for trafficking victims in the U.S., established human trafficking and related offenses as federal crimes, and strengthened the U.S. government’s prevention efforts through international initiatives designed to deter trafficking, including by improving economic opportunity for vulnerable workers.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is one of the U.S. government agencies fighting on the front lines of the battle to end human trafficking, both in the U.S. and overseas.
“The department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs is the largest funder of efforts to end labor exploitation, including human trafficking, around the world. For more than 20 years, ILAB has played a leading role in combating the trafficking of adults and children through its technical programs and policy engagement.
“ILAB also plays a critical role in researching, analyzing and shedding light, through public reporting, on child labor, forced labor and human trafficking around the world. ILAB’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor is a global list of products ILAB has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor, including labor trafficking, in violation of international standards. Moreover, ILAB’s 18th edition of its Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report documents sectors in which child labor, including child trafficking, persists in 131 countries.
“Available in a mobile app called Sweat & Toil, this research is used in the daily global fight against trafficking by engaging with governments to encourage the strengthening and enforcement of their laws. ILAB also helps U.S. businesses do their part to rid child labor and forced labor from their supply chains – including through our mobile app for businesses, Comply Chain.
“Domestically, Wage and Hour Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators play an important role in preventing trafficking through civil enforcement of federal labor laws and are often the first federal agencies to make contact with vulnerable workers and detect exploitation in the workplace, possibly including trafficking in persons. Such activities may then be referred to the appropriate authorities for follow up while ensuring the potential victim’s protection.
“The department also plays an important role in the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiatives that streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses. In 2018, the ACTeam’s activities helped lead to a record 526 convictions.
“The department’s Employment and Training Administration also helps to assist trafficking survivors in the United States with their workforce development needs. Recently, ETA signed bilateral cooperative agreements with Guatemala and Honduras that commit the countries to follow guidelines in U.S. law regarding the recruitment of workers, an action that will prohibit the charging of recruitment fees and reduce the risk that vulnerable children and families fall prey to human traffickers.
“Human trafficking is one of the most egregious and complex of human rights violations to tackle, and because of its complexity, the U.S. Department of Labor fights using a multi-pronged approach – spanning the domestic efforts of WHD, OSHA and ETA – to the international efforts of ILAB. Find out more about the many elements of our work and join us in the celebration of 20 years against human trafficking.”
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.