Luis CdeBaca
Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Washington, DC
May 10, 2010

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QUESTION: What is Human Trafficking?
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Human trafficking is kind of an umbrella term at this point? It came up in the late 1990s as a euphemism for all of the different things that happened involved with reducing somebody and holding them in a condition of servitude. It’s basically involuntary servitude. And as Secretary Clinton, we should just call it what it is – a modern form of slavery.

QUESTION: The "3Ps": Protection, Prevention, Prosecution
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Fighting slavery is something that everyone can do. It’s not just for the government. It’s not just for international actors. It’s something that you can do by starting to ask questions. Is the shirt that I’m wearing made of cotton that was picked by a child slave somewhere in another country? Is the orange juice that I’m drinking something that was picked by a slave here in the United States? But then also by volunteering: there are plenty of shelters, there are plenty of organizations that are helping people both here and abroad that could use the help. Not just the financial assistance or the awareness raising, but actually going down and working with these victims. People who own businesses – probably the best thing they could do – give a job to a survivor. So in other words, there are a lot of things that you can do to fight slavery. It’s not something that should just be relegated to the police or the prosecutors.

QUESTION: Human Trafficking & The Impact on the American People
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Human trafficking affects Americans because not only is this a crime that happens in other countries, it’s also a crime that happens here at home. It’s in our own communities, whether it is farm workers out in the fields in parts of the southeastern United States; whether it is domestic servants in the homes right around the corner; or girls or women who are under control of a pimp being and being brutalized in our hometowns. It’s a problem not just overseas, it’s also a problem here at home.

QUESTION: Human Trafficking & The World
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: The paradigm under which we’re operating in the Obama Administration is the “three p” approach. This is the world standard. It came out of the late years of the Clinton Administration. Basically, what is says is that you can’t do only one thing and fight trafficking. Slavery has to be fought on three different fronts: prosecution, prevention, and protection. You can’t just go out and arrest people and not help the victims and expect that something will change. You also can’t just help the victims and create a type of modern Underground Railroad; that wouldn’t put the traffickers out of business they’d continue to find more victims. Everything has to go inexorably towards the idea of preventing slavery in the modern era. And, so these three concepts prevention, protection, and prosecution have to be done simultaneously or else we’re going to fail in this fight against modern slavery.

QUESTION: Global Partners Working to Free Modern Slaves
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well there are a number of things that the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking does throughout the year. We obviously put out the annual trafficking in report, which enables us to look at the countries of the world and see how their doing and we run programs around the world. But then, there is also an action oriented aspect to the office that many people might not be aware of. There are several instances where we can show some successes that are directly attributable to what we do in G/TIP. For instance a couple of years ago, a group of people in Pakistan started coming together to try to get themselves out of slavery they found a lawyer who had been willing to go to court and try to get them emancipated. They were in debt bondage, which means they were paying off debts that their even sometimes great grandparents had taken out in the 1920s. The response of the local, I guess for lack of a better word, warlords, was quick and it was dramatic. Last fall, they were rounded up and confined with guards. Their lawyers were arrested by the people who reported to these war lords, the feudal lords. And it was only because of the intervention of the Office to monitor trafficking and Ambassador Holbrooke working with the Pakistani government that we were able to get a raid put together and liberate almost 200 slaves in Pakistan. That was the kind of combating that we see from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

QUESTION: Join the Anti-Trafficking Movement
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Human trafficking destabilizes governments, destabilizes communities. One of my friends that works over at the USDA said it probably the best. You can’t have food security if the hands that picked the crops are not free. So we are talking about a situation where you’ve got corruption that follows it in the wake of human trafficking, you’ve got organized crime, you’ve got destabilization of entire regions because the human traffickers have so much sway.