White House Reports on Efforts to Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains
Multiple Federal Agencies Involved in Fighting Exploitation
The President’s Interagency Task Force (PITF) to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has been brought together to combat human trafficking, the White House recently announced.
The administration’s agenda in this area focuses on four priority areas: the rule of law, victim services, procurement and supply chains, and public awareness and outreach.
Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of a person for the purposes of compelled labor or commercial sex.
Activities of PITF include gathering data on the sectors at greatest risk of trafficking-related activities in federal contracts and global supply chains. Last month a new U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking was formed, through which survivors will provide input and expertise to federal agencies on U.S. anti-trafficking policy.
In December, the U.S., as president of the U.N. Security Council, convened an unprecedented open debate on trafficking in persons in conflict situations to shine a spotlight on human trafficking by ISIL and Boko Haram.
On the trade and supply-chains front, the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains brought together leaders from the private sector, NGOs, and the federal government to discuss the prevention of human trafficking in federal contracts and private-sector supply chains.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pioneered an initiative called Supply Unchained to identify and counter human trafficking in supply chains. USAID is partnering with an NGO in India to create a model for identifying human trafficking cases in the lowest tiers of global supply chains, and also with the Issara Institute to create a mobile application for Burmese migrant workers to better connect and share information to counter human trafficking risks in Thailand’s export-oriented seafood supply chains.
The Department of Defense, in April 2015, held its largest ever Operational Contract Support Exercise that evaluated current policies aimed at combating human trafficking via the supply chain in U.S. Pacific Command’s area of responsibility. The Department is planning a similar exercise this April for U.S. Southern Command.
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council will soon release the proposed rule for public comment through a federal register notice for a government-wide definition for recruitment fees. The definition will provide greater clarity and help ensure federal contractors and other companies are successful in addressing human trafficking concerns in their supply chains.
The recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative includes enforceable obligations on labor rights, including on the elimination of forced labor and to address trade in goods produced by forced labor, and specifically targets trafficking concerns in trading partners, such as Malaysia, by requiring reforms in law and practice to better protect vulnerable populations and to prosecute traffickers.
The State Department this month will launch an online resource, ResponsibleSourcingTool.org, to strengthen protections against forced labor in federal and global supply chains.