Human Trafficking Task Force & Trafficking Subcommittee

Global Human Trafficking is a $32 billion international criminal enterprise that ruthlessly exploits women, men and children for numerous purposes. Human trafficking affects every country around the world, regardless of socioeconomic status, history, or political structure. According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, there is an estimated 45.8 million people enslaved in 167 countries around the world, up from the 35.8 million recorded in 2014.

Human Trafficking, also known as Trafficking in Persons (TIP), is one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. Forms of human trafficking include labor trafficking, sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Human trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or for the purposes of a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud or coercion, or for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children includes the prostitution of children, child pornography, child sex tourism and other forms of transactional sex where a child engages in sexual activities to have key needs fulfilled, such as food, shelter or access to education. It includes forms of transactional sex where the sexual abuse of children is not stopped or reported by household members due to benefits derived by the household from the perpetrator.

In 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to criminalize human trafficking and to adopt legislation and policies for the protection of victims, the prevention of trafficking and prosecution of traffickers.

The American Bar Association has a long history of supporting freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Human trafficking and modern-day slavery is an anathema to all three. In August 2012, then ABA President Laurel Bellows reiterated the Bar’s strong opposition to the practice and gave a voice to trafficking victims by creating the first ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking. The President’s Task Force, which focused primarily on domestic human trafficking issues, was wildly successful!

Some of the Human Trafficking Task Force’s accomplishments included:
• Developing business-conduct standards and best practices to help corporations ensure they are not using slave labor unknowingly to provide goods or services;
• Working with the National Conference of Commissioner on Uniform State Laws to advise, draft, modify and pass a uniform anti-trafficking law to ensure a strong legal basis exists to prosecute human trafficking in every state;
• Creating national anti-trafficking public service announcements; and
• Facilitating pro bono initiatives that helped trained lawyers and advocates who assist victims of human trafficking.

In August 2013, the ABA House of Delegates approved the Uniform Law Commission’s anti-trafficking law at the Annual Meeting. This was a majority victory! The Bar reaffirmed its commitment to combating human trafficking and agreed to reconstitute the Human Trafficking Task Force under the Center for Human Rights. And Laurel Bellows, speaking for the last time as ABA President, challenged and encouraged legal professionals and other ABA entities to take up the cause and promote the ABA’s position throughout its sections, groups and committees.

The ABA International Human Rights Committee stands with other ABA entities, anti–trafficking and human rights advocates in leading the legal profession’s efforts to eradicate trade in human beings. The mission of HTSc is to mobilize the legal profession and collaborate with anti-trafficking advocates to combat global human trafficking through public awareness, advocacy, training and education via publications, teleconferences, and special programs.

The IHRC’s Human Trafficking Subcommittee’s is comprised of more than 60 ABA members who have experience in the field of human trafficking and have demonstrated a commitment to combat human trafficking and all forms of modern-day slavery.

Subcommittee Work
Generally, IHRC Human Trafficking Subcommittee:
• Coordinates with other ABA entities, anti-trafficking and human rights advocacy groups to address mutual areas of concerns;
• Supports other ABA entities in their efforts to train law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and civil attorneys on how to better collaborate to improve the prosecution of traffickers and provide better support to recovered victims;
• Promotes public awareness of human trafficking through advocacy and public events (e.g., Human Rights Lobby Day), CLE and non-CLE teleconferences, special programs, social media;
• Educates the bar, members of the judiciary, policy makers, and the public at large about human trafficking, the plight of the victims, and the need for universal legislation and enforcement mechanism.

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