Report on Supply Chain Compliance 3, no. 2 (January 23, 2020)
The United States Department of Justice hosted the Summit on Combating Human Trafficking on Jan. 14 in Washington, D.C. Attorneys general from across the U.S. attended the summit, along with representatives from law enforcement agencies, business communities and advocacy groups. The summit comes during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which was proclaimed by former President Barack Obama on Jan. 11, 2010. During this month, U.S. government agencies — local, national and regional — partner with a wide variety of groups to host summits and workshops, reflect on the work from the previous year, and announce new programs for the coming year.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example, posted a story about a human trafficking case the agency helped prosecute, and included a link to the Department of Homeland Security’s Indicator Card resource — published in multiple languages — that defines human trafficking and lists several common indicators of trafficking and modern slavery.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen talked about the important takeaways from the summit:
First, protecting and assisting victims is important to the larger cause of justice and to the immediate needs of investigation and prosecution. Second, human trafficking overlaps with other crimes, including drug trafficking, gang crimes, money laundering, and human smuggling. And human trafficking is hidden in a very wide range of settings, from local and transnational commercial sex enterprises, to sweatshops and fields across the U.S., all the way to global supply chains of major multinational corporations. We need more innovative strategies to detect it so that we can stop it. Third, we need the availability of all law enforcement tools to adequately investigate and prosecute more human trafficking cases. While some say we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem, the fact is that a human trafficker who remains at large can and will find other victims.
One of the key documents reinforcing the government-wide focus on human trafficking is the National Security Presidential Directive 22, signed Dec. 16, 2002, that established the U.S. government’s zero-tolerance stance regarding human trafficking and directed all federal agencies to develop training programs and other policies to commit to combating human trafficking and modern slavery.
The document calls on every major federal agency to coordinate efforts:
Through the Senior Policy Advisory Group under the Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations Policy Coordination Committee, the Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Management and Budget, and others shall work together as needed to develop a coordinated strategy for active diplomatic engagement, marshalling law enforcement resources, gathering and sharing intelligence, obtaining international cooperation, and providing specialized law enforcement training as necessary to combat trafficking in persons.
The directive outlines a plan of action for government agencies to follow that revolves around integrating local, regional, and national entities and programs with international efforts, using tools such as the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report and the definitions contained within the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, the primary piece of legislation under which trafficking is defined, criminalized, and penalized. In an article on the U.S. government’s response to human trafficking, Gwendolyn Hassan, Managing Counsel, Global Compliance & Ethics, for CNH Industrial, writes:
The TVPA was the first truly comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation as it included, for the first time, detailed requirements related to the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of its victims, and the prosecution of its perpetrators all in the same legislation. It was designed to be a complete response to the problem of human trafficking and intended to replace the “hodgepodge” of then-existing regulations which were narrower in scope, each addressing only certain types of trafficking.
In that same article, Hassan explains how the U.S. government addressed human trafficking in its own supply chain through presidential executive order and revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement:
In September 2012, President Obama signed an executive order entitled, “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts.” The order required the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to amend the regulation in order to:
“Expressly prohibit federal contractors, contractor employees, subcontractors, and subcontractor employees from engaging in any trafficking-related activities (examples of such ‘activities’ are listed in the order and include, but are not limited to, the charging of recruitment fees and destroying, confiscating, or otherwise denying access to an employee’s identification documents such as a passport);
“Require contractors and their subcontractors, by contract clause, to agree to cooperate fully in providing reasonable access to allow contracting agencies and other responsible enforcement agencies to conduct audits, investigations, or other actions to ascertain compliance with the order, or any other applicable law or regulation establishing restrictions on trafficking in persons, the procurement of commercial sex acts, or the use of forced labor; and
“Require contracting officers to notify, in accordance with agency procedures, the agency’s Inspector General, the agency official responsible for initiating suspension or debarment actions, and law enforcement, if appropriate. This notification would be required if they become aware of any activities that are inconsistent with the requirements of the order or any other applicable law or regulation establishing restrictions on trafficking in persons, the procurement of commercial sex acts, or the use of forced labor. Further, the agency official responsible for initiating suspension and debarment actions must consider whether suspension or debarment is necessary in order to protect the government’s interest.”
The U.S. government’s efforts to combat human trafficking are part of a worldwide effort that has reached a critical mass in terms of public awareness and regulatory action. Although the U.S. government announced its zero-tolerance policy almost two decades ago, that sentiment has only recently filtered into the public consciousness’s desire for products and services that are free from human trafficking. The result has been several pieces of national legislation — most notably in the U.K. and Australia — as well as increased funding and awareness within private industry toward supply chain transparency and reporting mechanisms that hold those in the entire supply chain responsible for eradicating forced labor.
Despite this, modern slavery continues to exist and generates billions of U.S. dollars in profit each year. As Rosen stated at the end of his speech, “Today, we recommit to ending human trafficking. Our work continues.”
The U.S. government has established a broad, concerted set of policies and procedures to combat human trafficking, including interagency cooperation, enforcement actions and dedicated resources, as well as landmark legislation.
Despite the fact that human trafficking has entered the public consciousness and the political realm — in the form of national policy — modern slavery continues to generate profits and destroy lives.