News / USA

Obama Calls Human Trafficking 'Slavery,' Announces New Measures

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative 2012 (CGI) in New York, September 25, 2012.U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative 2012 (CGI) in New York, September 25, 2012.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative 2012 (CGI) in New York, September 25, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative 2012 (CGI) in New York, September 25, 2012.
— After his speech to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama used an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative to announce new efforts to help crack down on human trafficking.

Calling the fight against human trafficking "one of the great human rights causes of our time," Obama announced new steps to deal with a problem he called "barbaric and evil" with no place in a civilized world.

"It is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric," said Obama. "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.”

Obama issued an executive order to strengthen what he said is already a strict policy ensuring that government contractors do not engage in forced labor.

"In short, we're making clear that American tax dollars should never, ever, be used to support the trafficking of human beings. We will have zero tolerance; we mean what we say, we will enforce it."

Robinson audio report


Other steps include expanded resources and training for government, state and local law enforcement officials to detect trafficking, and more help for victims who, the president said, "should be treated as victims, not criminals."

A presidential task force will develop a strategic action plan to strengthen services for trafficking victims, with stepped up efforts to monitor trafficking trends in the United States.

In describing the new initiatives, Obama recalled his recent Oval Office meeting with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who he noted has been a fierce opponent of forced labor and child soldiers.

"As part of our engagement [with Burma] we will encourage Burma to keep taking steps to reform, because nations must speak with one voice: 'Our people and our children are not for sale.'"

In pledging that the United States will continue to be a leader against human trafficking, Obama made a point of recognizing three women from Congo, Indonesia and the United States who became anti-trafficking advocates.

He also drew a link between the Emancipation Proclamation, the 150-year-old document that proclaimed the freedom of slaves during the U.S. Civil War, two years before slavery was formally outlawed, and the present-day fight against human trafficking.

"The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past. For we know that every life saved - in the words of that great Proclamation - is "an act of justice," worthy of "the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God," he said.

Obama said, "there’s no denying the awful reality" that millions of people around the world exist in slavery. To the millions of trafficking victims, he sent this message: "We see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity."

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lauren from: Taylor
September 25, 2012 11:42 PM
It was very exciting to hear President Obama speak about the important role of college students. Take a look at The FREE Project, a growing network of college students fighting to end slavery worldwide: TFP is a program of End Slavery Now, which also hosts the New Underground Railroad, connecting activists and NGOs around the world. http://www.endslaverynow.com

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid