On November 5th, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole addressed the 81st INTERPOL Ministerial and General Assembly meeting in Rome, Italy. Deputy Attorney General Cole stressed the need for “enhanced global attention and a unified law enforcement response” to fight against human trafficking:
“One of the greatest horrors of this crime is that traffickers view their victims as nothing more than a commodity, something that can be bought and sold, or simply taken, and eventually discarded… This crime can take many forms. It is the young woman who moves to another country for the promise of a new life – but instead finds herself enslaved and repeatedly sold for sex. Or the child who ran away from home and finds herself in the same situation because, in desperate need, she accepted help from the wrong person.”
Human trafficking is hidden in plain sight – behind the veil of a prostitution offense, a domestic abuse incident, a physical or sexual assault, a labor dispute, or an immigration crime. Second, victims are often traumatized, and can be weary of – and reluctant to corporate with – law enforcement officials for fear of repercussions from their captors. This is why educating first responders about the factors that may indicate a potential human trafficking offense is a critical step in improving our ability to identify and help trafficking victims.
To successfully combat human trafficking, as Deputy Attorney General said, “prosecution alone is not the answer,” which is why we are bringing a renewed focus to preventative measures like:
- Prevention through prosecution of trafficking rings before they can ensnare other victims;
- prevention through deterrence so that our prosecutions dissuade others who may consider engaging in this crime;
- prevention through public awareness; and, lastly,
- prevention through the education of potential victims who, driven by fear, poverty, or lack of education, often unwittingly place their lives in the hands of exploitative traffickers.
No single country or law enforcement agency has the power, or the means, to tackle the global criminal enterprises we face. Only by communicating effectively, sharing intelligence and combining resources – within our own governments and with our law enforcement partners around the globe – can we truly understand current and emerging trends and build effective strategies to anticipate, combat and put an end to these crimes.
Learn more at Tracy Russo’s US Department of Justice The Justice Blog article: Confronting transnational organized crime and human trafficking in a global society.