01/31/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/01/2023 07:17
The Justice Department today commemorates National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and renews its commitment to investigating and prosecuting human traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing human trafficking from happening in the first place. We do this work in collaboration with our interagency partners and external stakeholders.
"As the Justice Department's National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking recognizes, an effective response to human trafficking requires collaboration across government and beyond. Most important, it requires listening to victims and survivors and incorporating their perspectives into everything we do," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. "As we commemorate National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Department of Justice reaffirms our commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of survivors, and to empowering them to help bring their traffickers to justice. The Justice Department will continue to work relentlessly to prevent human trafficking crimes, prosecute perpetrators of these crimes, and provide protection and trauma-informed assistance to victims and survivors."
The Justice Department's National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, announced last year by Attorney General Garland, laid out the Department's multi-year strategy to combat all forms of human trafficking. Over the past 12 months, the Department has taken significant actions to implement the National Strategy. These actions include:
Launching an interagency Forced Labor Initiative to enhance the detection, investigation, and prosecution of federal criminal forced labor violations. The Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU) convened an interagency steering committee of subject matter experts from the FBI, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), and the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security to conduct threat assessments and to screen for possible forced labor indicators. The steering committee identifies jurisdictions with elevated forced labor threats, prioritizes among actionable leads, and imparts specialized expertise and strategic guidance to the U.S. Attorney's Office and other law enforcement and non-governmental partners in each relevant jurisdiction.
Establishing a departmental working group to review current policies, procedures, practices, and trainings to ensure that the Department is avoiding inappropriate immigration consequences and inappropriate arrest and punishment of victims of human trafficking.
Convening a Working Group of Victim Assistance specialists from 17 components throughout the Department that meet regularly to exchange expertise in stabilizing and supporting vulnerable victims of human trafficking at all stages of the criminal justice process and to enhance the dissemination of victim-centered, trauma-informed best practices in victim-witness assistance to anti-trafficking partners nationwide.
Partnering with over 200 federal, state, and local agencies to locate and assist victims of human trafficking, particularly child victims, as part of Operation Cross Country XII (OCC XII). The FBI's Victim Services Division (VSD) coordinated the national victim assistance response for OCC XII, which included training on the importance of using a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach and ensuring the unique needs of each identified victim were addressed throughout the operation. VSD personnel, in collaboration with local non-government organizations (NGOs), child protective services, medical organizations, and other community, state, and national groups, provided more than 850 services to more than 220 identified minor and adult victims of human trafficking. These services included crisis intervention, needs assessments, child and adult protective services notification, mental health/safety planning, and referrals to human trafficking NGOs and service providers.
Developing a comprehensive training on human trafficking and gender-based violence to train Bureau of Prisons staff on how to identify and respond to potential indicators of human trafficking among detained people.
Strengthening coordination among departmental anti-trafficking subject matter experts, such as those in HTPU, the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, U.S. Attorneys' Offices (USAOs), and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), to identify challenges and improve District-level anti-trafficking efforts.
Enhancing the response to human trafficking in Indian Country through increased cooperation with Tribal, federal, state, and local partners. For example, EOUSA, in partnership with the National Indian Country Training Initiative, published a memorandum reaffirming its commitment to ensuring USAOs receive training and support to effectively combat human trafficking and address challenges specific to Indian country. In addition, the Department's Office on Violence Against Women provided funding for the Sovereign Responses to Sex Trafficking in Indian Country and Alaska national conference held this month in New Orleans. The conference brought together Tribal leadership, federal partners, and experts in the anti-trafficking field, including experts on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, Missing or Murdered Indigenous People, and sex trafficking, in Tribal communities to better address the safety of children, women, and men.
Funding an almost $1 million award from OVC to support a survivor-led team to assist OVC anti-trafficking grantees and their partners in intentional and sustainable engagement with survivors to improve anti-trafficking programming.
Funding a $979,022 award from the National Institute of Justice to the National Opinion Research Center to conduct a rigorous 48-month multisite process and outcome evaluation of the Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking Program, which aims to develop, expand, or strengthen a multidisciplinary approach to fight human trafficking.
Developing legislative proposals to amend existing statutes to combat human trafficking, assist victims, and increase prosecution of perpetrators. These proposals would significantly strengthen procedures for collecting mandatory restitution, criminalize fraudulent labor recruitment practices, and enable consistency in enforcement.
Anyone who has information about a potential human trafficking situation or who thinks they or someone they know may be a victim of human trafficking who needs help should contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about human trafficking, please visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org. Information on the Department of Justice's efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.