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Legislation, Newsfeed, The Issue

Obama Announces New Anti-Slavery Initiatives

[from Free the Slaves BLOG by Terry FitzPatrick]

President Barack Obama today outlined several steps his administration will take to strengthen the U.S. government’s efforts to battle slavery.

The plan follows a simple philosophy, the president said: “Spot it and stop it.”

This includes:

  • An executive order issued today that prohibits human trafficking by government contractors and provides federal investigators with tools to crack down on violators.
  • Training for law enforcement, immigration judges and others to help spot trafficking victims, and to treat them as victims instead of criminals.
  • A $6 million partnership with Humanity United and the Goldman Sachs Foundation to spur innovation in local communities to help trafficking survivors.
  • Streamlining T-visa procedures so that trafficking survivors aren’t quickly deported after being rescued.
  • A new annual presidential award for exceptional contributions to the anti-slavery movement.
  • Development of a national action plan to strengthen victim services, and a domestic slavery tracking study to spot trends in U.S. trafficking.

Read the full White House news release with details here. Many of the proposals mirror suggestions to the administration from the anti-slavery movement, including suggestions from FTS.

Mr. Obama announced these actions to fight slavery at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York. He did not shy away from using the “S” word to characterize slavery for what it is.

“It’s a debasement of our common humanity,” the president said. “It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name: modern slavery.”

The White House also announced that the administration’s efforts augment other developments discussed at this year’s CGI gathering. These include:

  • A Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking that will work business-to-business to mobilize corporate efforts to fight slavery in supply chains.
  • A trafficking “toolkit” from the U.S. Travel Association to create awareness in the travel and tourism industry.
  • A campus challenge to raise awareness and inspire activism.
  • A Johns Hopkins university research partnership to focus on child sex trafficking.
  • A Made in a Free World initiative to help buyers and suppliers identify and eliminate slavery-tainted materials in corporate supply chains.

FTS co-founder Kevin Bales welcomes the high level attention that slavery is receiving.

“How many slave-made goods are flowing into our lives is still unknown, but no consumer thinks slavery is a bargain,” says Bales. “It’s time for leaders in the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking to dig deep into their supply chains and work for a slave-free world.  At the same time, the president and Congress should enact the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act, to ensure that all businesses, not just business leaders, have to report on what if anything they’re doing to address slavery in their own operations.”

President Obama received strong applause during his remarks about modern day slavery. “It is barbaric and it is evil,” he noted, “and it has no place in a civilized world.”

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