Journey from Victim to Survivor Central Message of Annual President’s Interagency Task Force Meeting
Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking received the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. From left: Survivor Organizer Ima Matul, Executive Director Kay Buck, Survivor Advocate Evelyn Chumbow and President of the Board Butch Schuman.
By Katherine Chon, Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons
Survivors of modern slavery joined the White House and 16 federal agencies in the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Secretary of State John Kerry opened the proceedings by describing the magnitude of human trafficking victimizing 21 million to 29 million people around the world and in the United States. Federal agencies shared plans for the year ahead to build on the accomplishments from last year.
HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, joined by the Administration for Children and Families Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Greenberg, shared major actions that HHS would take in the coming year, including implementation of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. In 2014, HHS will increase funding for services to foreign national victims of human trafficking and release grants with new funds for domestic victims, while continuing to integrate anti-trafficking responses within existing systems including child welfare, runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence, and other community-based service programs.
HHS has already announced social and economic development grant opportunities within the Native American community, including initiatives to respond to human trafficking. HHS will also pilot and evaluate trainings for health care providers in four sites to recognize signs of human trafficking, identify potential cases, and respond to the short-term and long-term health needs of survivors.
Deputy Secretary Corr reinforced the importance of working with partners inside and outside the government to strengthen services for people in all forms of modern slavery, including continuing to look to survivors on how HHS can help them find health, justice, and firm footing on the path forward.
Secretary of State Kerry presented this year’s Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking “for its extraordinary efforts to provide comprehensive services to survivors of modern slavery, its bold leadership on behalf of and in partnership with survivors to advocate for robust anti-trafficking policies and laws, and its unwavering mission to empower survivors by building a community network and helping leaders thrive.”
Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, concluded the meeting acknowledging that human trafficking is a global issue that occurs in our own backyards. She provided major themes for the administration’s work ahead including coordinating victim services and support for survivors, increasing tools for law enforcement, preventing human trafficking in federal supply chains, and strengthening community outreach and engagement.
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is a cabinet-level entity created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to coordinate federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Agencies represented at the 2014 Task Force meeting included:
- Department of State
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Labor
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Justice
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Defense
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Education
- The National Security Council
- Office of Management and Budget
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Agency for International Development
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Office of the Director of National Intelligence