What Must Be Done to Combat Human Trafficking - Survivors Speak Out In a U.S. Advisory Council Report

Oct 24, 2016 6:45 PM ET

Just last week, the U.S Advisory Council on Human Trafficking released its first annual report detailing policy recommendations for various aspects of the human trafficking supply chain, the first of its kind written by survivors.

Established in 2015, the council is comprised of 11 members appointed by President Obama who are survivors of human trafficking. This monumental decision to place survivors in key positions underlines the national momentum and urgency that has made ending human trafficking a national priority. Human trafficking survivors have been “held in slavery and servitude, treated inhumanely, and often punished for the crimes committed against them.” President Obama has called human trafficking modern day slavery, citing injustice and outrage that human trafficking exists.

To ensure that policies and initiatives to end human trafficking are guided by true experiences from survivors, the council provided several key recommendations in their first annual report. Effectively identifying instances of human trafficking in supply chains was a key concern. Trafficking can occur in any part of the supply chain where there is a labor shortage, making it especially elusive and difficult to pinpoint. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, all stages of the supply chain are at risk: mining for the raw material, manufacturing of components, and the assembly/production of the final product. Risks of human trafficking are especially high in any industries that require unskilled or low-skilled labor, and in industries that demand a high amount of production within a short timeframe. In particular, the advisory council urged the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to increase investigations into priority industries of hospitality, agriculture, and construction to identify cases of human trafficking.

Many other recommended solutions for mitigating human trafficking were provided by the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking  on various topics:

Rule of law (improving law enforcement understanding of human trafficking):

  • Provide comprehensive training on human trafficking to investigators, agents, victim specialists, forensic interviewers, and all federal training facilitators, and utilize survivors as trainers

Public awareness:

  • Ensure diverse representation of human trafficking in public campaigns and public education on all forms of human trafficking

  • Collaborate with survivors of human trafficking on efforts to prevent and identify human trafficking, including: working with associations to advertise hotlines in public areas, implementing public awareness campaigns, providing training sessions, and developing school curriculum

Victim services:

  • Provide services to human trafficking victims regardless of gender, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, age, nationality, etc.

  • Prioritize human trafficking victims for federal and local housing assistance

Labor laws:

  • Include survivors when developing and implement anti-trafficking training materials and programs

  • Eliminate background checks for employment assistance programs

Grant making:

  • Provide funding for survivors to pursue careers and vocational trainings

  • Ensure that survivors are included in the federal grant making process

As public awareness of human trafficking increases and federal efforts to identify human trafficking become more stringent, companies may find their supply chains in the spotlight. Existing regulations such as California SB 657 and the UK Modern Slavery Act already require companies to report on their efforts to investigate their supply chains. Learn about how you can take the first steps to mitigate the risk of human trafficking in your supply chain in our upcoming webinar on November 15th: “Approaching Modern Day Slavery: Using your existing compliance program to develop a robust anti-human trafficking program.”