BY AMBASSADOR ERIN MCKEE
United States Ambassador
This is a historic year for the Department of State and U.S. Embassies all around the world, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report). As in years past, Papua New Guinea’s inclusion in the TIP Report is a recognition of the seriousness of the challenge human trafficking poses for the protection human rights and for the country’s development and security.
When the United States Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, one of its requirements was the creation of a report that would represent the U.S. government’s dedication to fight human trafficking on a global scale and serve to increase the number of governments actively prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing human trafficking crimes.
From its inception, at a time when many governments denied the existence of human trafficking in all its forms, the TIP Report has become the standard-bearer for the principles enshrined in the TVPA and the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Over the last 20 years, the TIP Report has successfully reinforced global anti-trafficking norms and ideals. It has drawn attention to trends and emerging issues, highlighted promising practices, and tracked the progression of important developments, such as the passage of comprehensive anti-trafficking laws and improvements in victim identification efforts.
On June 25, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo released the 2020 TIP Report. The Report documents the government efforts of 188 countries and territories, including the United States, to combat human trafficking. Though the methodology, content, and design of the TIP Report have evolved, reflecting the broader anti-trafficking movement’s progress in understanding the crime, the messages at the heart of each edition have been steadfast: there is no excuse for human trafficking, and governments must take bold action to end it.
The need for a global response has never been greater. The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to cause a shift in the means and methods traffickers use to exploit their victims, both foreign and domestic, reinforcing the urgency with which all governments must make increasing efforts to stop this heinous crime.
Much of the foundation for Papua New Guinea’s efforts has already been laid. Your laws criminalize human trafficking and the government has standard operating procedures for identification and referral of trafficking cases.
Yet there is much work to be done to turn parchment promises into meaningful action.
The United States looks forward to working with your country as Papua New Guinea builds on that foundation a robust framework that enables whole-of-government coordination to identify and protect victims, apprehend and prosecute traffickers, and prevent this crime from occurring in the first place. Widespread training for law enforcement, labor, customs, and border officials, as well as prosecutors, judges, and civil society partners, is essential in that regard. At a policy level, I also encourage the government to bring together a broad range of stakeholders to update the country’s Counter Trafficking in Persons National Action Plan, which is set to expire this year.
Over the last two decades, the U.S. Department of State, along with host governments, NGOs, multilateral organizations, survivors, faith communities, and other advocates have been unrelenting our fight against human trafficking. As we steel ourselves for the battle ahead and the work yet to be done, we are committed to working with the Papua New Guinea to support and increase our shared efforts in pursuit of a world free from human trafficking.