Justice Department Anti-Trafficking Efforts Highlighted in 2021 National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
(STL.News) Today the White House released the 2021 National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which lays out a broad-based, multi-disciplinary, whole-of-government approach to addressing this crime and its harmful impacts on crime victims, their communities and our national security. The Action Plan calls upon the U.S. Department of Justice and its partners across the Executive Branch to implement a number of Priority Actions to enhance U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is an insidious crime that impacts some of the most vulnerable people in our country and around the world,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Vindicating the rights of human trafficking victims and other vulnerable individuals ranks among the highest priorities of the Department of Justice.
The department welcomes the issuance of this National Action Plan, which will streamline coordination among federal anti-trafficking partners, strengthening our ability to seek justice for victims and hold perpetrators accountable. We are committed to using every tool at our disposal to prevent human trafficking; increase detection, investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes; and expand support and services to protect and empower survivors.”
“Human trafficking is an intolerable affront to ideals of liberty, justice and individual rights that disproportionately impacts vulnerable individuals and marginalized communities, including people of color, migrants and refugees, LQBTQI+ people and people living with disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This National Action Plan, developed through extensive collaboration among leading anti-trafficking experts, reflects the Civil Rights Division’s steadfast commitment to making our nation’s fight against human trafficking more effective than ever before. We will use every available tool to hold perpetrators of human trafficking accountable for their crimes while pursuing justice on behalf of survivors.”
“Human trafficking exploits adults and children at the most fundamental levels – targeting dignity, self-governance, even freedom,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These are crimes that call upon our most fundamental instincts to protect survivors and prosecute offenders. Through this National Action Plan the Justice Department, alongside its public and private partners, commits once again to answer this call, re-focus our efforts and deliver justice.”
Attorney General Garland has already taken steps to deepen and strengthen the department’s work alongside our federal partners to assess the threat presented by human trafficking and mitigate the vulnerabilities that expose victims to exploitation and abuse. The department’s anti-trafficking experts worked closely with law enforcement and intelligence community agencies throughout 2021 to produce a comprehensive, interagency Human Trafficking Intelligence Assessment. This interagency Intelligence Assessment, finalized in July 2021, continues to inform Executive Branch policies, strategies and priorities in response to complex, evolving human trafficking threats.
Furthermore, in June 2021, the Attorney General launched Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies, to combat smuggling and trafficking in persons from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. The Task Force is working within the United States and with our foreign partners to dismantle criminal networks that subject smuggled migrants to dangerous, abusive and exploitive conditions and that engage in human trafficking.
The department is grateful to survivor experts, including the U.S. Advisory Council, and other stakeholders who were consulted for their expertise during the development of the National Action Plan. The plan emphasizes the use of victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches that are necessary for success in all of our anti-trafficking efforts. The department will play a lead role in implementing the following Priority Actions, among others:
Expand interagency enforcement initiatives aimed at increasing high impact prosecutions of forced labor, sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud or coercion and transnational sex trafficking, and work with the Department of Homeland Security to launch a labor trafficking enforcement initiative.
Engage relevant stakeholders, including state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement and survivors and survivor organizations, to strengthen their prosecutions related to child sex trafficking.
Dismantle organized criminal human trafficking enterprises by targeting their financial networks, communication systems and other infrastructure, and by targeting facilitators of human trafficking.
Develop improved technology for human trafficking interdiction and identify technical barriers impeding investigations.
Enhance capabilities to locate children who are missing, including those who have run away from foster care, and are vulnerable to human trafficking.
Ensure the safety and well-being of human trafficking victims in the course of FBI investigations by using and promoting a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach among all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal law enforcement partners.
Conduct comprehensive training covering the collection of restitution and transfer of forfeited funds to victims.
Prioritize the Office for Victims of Crime’s housing program to support safe, stable housing options for human trafficking victims.
Consider enhancements to the model task forces program to increase collaboration between victim services, law enforcement, and community and survivor stakeholders.
Seek to establish federally-funded human trafficking task forces that are sustainable and state, tribal, territorial or locally-led.
Release a self-guided training on integrating trauma-informed engagement in supporting individuals and communities impacted by human trafficking.
Support research and develop the evidence needed to better prevent and respond to trafficking in persons in the United States.