Fighting the New Global Slave Trade

Friday, May 20, 2011

From Harold Koh and the White House Blog:

As a human rights lawyer and a Korean-American, I am honored to take part in this month-long celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States and to help advance the cause of human rights both within our country and across the globe.

One of the most urgent challenges the AAPI community must address – and one of the most egregious human rights abuses of our time—is the modern global slave trade: the crime of human trafficking.

Traffickers prostitute underage girls, force boys to beg on the streets, subject men to debt bondage in agriculture and factory work, and enslave women in homes as domestic workers. As we have seen in U.S. v. Lee and more recently in the U.S. v Global Horizons prosecution, this crime dramatically affects the rights of those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent on U.S. soil. Trafficking undermines the guarantees of the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While the problem is massive and global, we are finally seeing progress through the growth of legal norms and regimes. One hundred and forty six countries are now parties to United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), which supplements the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. Palermo embodies the “3P” approach to combating trafficking – prosecution, protection and prevention.