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Rice Comment: Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

Rice Remarks at Release of Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

Human trafficking preys on the most vulnerable in society, Rice says


(begin transcript)

Office of the Spokesman
June 4, 2008


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Release of the Eighth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

June 4, 2008
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. As many of you know, combating human trafficking is a top priority for the Bush Administration. Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable of our society, particularly women and children, and they use that vulnerability to enslave them.

We began issuing the Trafficking in Persons Report eight years ago, when President Bush first came to office. Today, because of our efforts, the efforts of our allies, and reports like the one we are releasing today, there is much greater global awareness about the brutality of human trafficking.

Globally, human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat: It deprives people of their human rights and dignity. It increases global health risks. It bankrolls the growth of organized crime, and it undermines the rule of law.

In recent years, we have witnessed a hopeful global movement uniting civil society, governments, and international organizations -- not just to confront this crime, but to abolish it. Worldwide, the United States relies on a unique diplomatic tool in its bilateral and multilateral collaboration on this issue -- the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The 2008 report covers more countries than ever -- 170 total. It is the most comprehensive global compendium of human trafficking trends and efforts by foreign governments to eliminate this crime. It is the only report of its kind, with no NGO or UN report like it. And as required by Congress, the Trafficking in Persons Report examines both labor slavery and sex trafficking.

For the first time, in this year’s report, we closely examined prosecution data and made a disturbing discovery: Although more countries are addressing sex trafficking through prosecution and convictions, the petty tyrants who exploit their laborers rarely receive serious punishment. We see this as a serious shortcoming, and as we move our efforts forward, we and our allies must remember that a robust law enforcement response is essential.

This report is a key tool in our efforts to abolish human trafficking -- by raising awareness, offering clear recommendations to combat these crimes, and offering advice and aid from the United States. On this last point: the United States has devoted over $500 million in the last seven fiscal years to combat human trafficking globally.

The United States stands ready to work with our partners around the world to expose the evil of human trafficking. We hope this report encourages responsible nations across the globe to stand together, to speak with one voice, and to say that freedom and security are non-negotiable demands of human dignity. Together I believe this movement of governments, civil society, and brave individuals of conscience can rescue, rehabilitate, and restore the lives of those who have been treated as less than human. Thank you very much. And now I will turn to Ambassador Mark Lagon for a (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, any comment on Senator Barack Obama’s historical nomination today? It’s an historic moment.

QUESTION: It’s historic – and you’ve said – and you’ve spoken before on this issue. I was just wondering if you could just make some brief comments on the historic nature of it.

SECRETARY RICE: Obviously, I’m not going to get into politics. But let me just say that the United States of America is an extraordinary country. It’s a country that has overcome many, many, now years, decades, actually a couple of centuries, of trying to make good on its principles. And I think that what we’re seeing is an extraordinary expression of the fact that “we the people” is beginning to mean all of us.

And I congratulate both Senator Obama and Senator McCain on their respective campaigns, and Senator Clinton on hers as well. And I look forward to viewing it all from the sidelines as a voter. Thank you.

(end transcript)

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