Opening of Anti-Human Trafficking Exhibition

Opening of Anti-Human Trafficking Exhibition
Berlin, May 30, 2017
CDA Kent Logsdon


Deputy Police President Margarete Koppers, it is an honor to join you today.

Human trafficking is an issue that countries around the world face – including in my country, and here in yours.  The notion of modern-day slavery is one that touches everybody’s conscience.  It goes against any concept of fundamental, basic human decency.

In February, within a month after his inauguration, President Trump held a White House Listening Session on Domestic and International Human Trafficking, at which he stated that combating trafficking in persons would be a priority of his Administration.  He said that he was “prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government…to solve this horrific problem.”

Just last week, during a White House meeting with anti-trafficking NGOs and members of Congress, Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump reiterated that, “combating human trafficking and modern slavery is both in our moral and strategic interest domestically and abroad.”  And in Rome last week, she met with representatives of the Sant’Egidio community to discuss human trafficking.

In the United States, we pursue a ‘whole-of-government’ approach that addresses all aspects of human trafficking – enforcement of criminal and labor law, development of victim identification and protection measures, support for innovations in data gathering, public awareness, enhanced partnerships and research opportunities, foreign assistance, and diplomatic engagement.

And we have seen that partnerships work.

The Department of Justice promotes partnerships at all levels – across government agencies, and between federal, state, and local law enforcement communities, as well as victim services organizations and victims themselves.  The Department of Justice has collaborated with the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor to create coordination teams.  This has significantly increased the number and quality of human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also oversees dozens of federal, state, and local task forces and working groups that have led to hundreds of arrests and the rescue of thousands of trafficking victims.

Here in Germany, we also see examples of partnership.  The Berlin LKA’s counter TIP unit, headed by Stefan Strehlow, is to be commended for its dedication and hard work.  Berlin is one of the few states in Germany that has a counter TIP unit that also focuses on trafficking of minors.

Leonie v Braun, Berlin’s dedicated TIP unit at the Prosecutor’s Office highlights the excellent cooperation between police, prosecutors and NGOs.

Strong partnerships at the international level are also crucial.  Transatlantic exchanges between our respective law enforcement, legal, and judicial communities have been organized to share best practices.  This is always useful.

The Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons leads the United States’ global engagement against human trafficking.  This is the office that publishes the annual Trafficking in Persons Report which is the principal U.S. diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.  It is recognized by the anti-trafficking community as the definitive analytical work in this area and has been a catalyst for change globally.

An enormous amount of work is done at the local level in compiling this report.  On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank the LKA for the excellent cooperation in helping us to put together the report on German TIP issues.  The 17th annual report will likely be released in June.

What has the global anti-trafficking movement learned in the past 17 years?

Well, there are essential elements to combating trafficking in persons: prevention, protection, and prosecution.

Prevention measures include measures designed to provide communities with information about the risks and signs of human trafficking and elevate public consciousness. Public awareness campaigns target those considered to be most at risk; or those who may be contributing wittingly or unwittingly to the demand; or the general public, who are then better able to spot the indicators of human trafficking and report suspicions to law enforcement.  Reducing the complexity of human trafficking into posters, billboards, short articles, or social media messaging is a challenge.  Designers of these campaigns must understand the scope and scale of the problem, so that  they do not misrepresent the victims or confuse the issues.

An example of a campaign well done is the poster exhibit we are opening today.

Cinderella von Dungern, it is very obvious that the Broken Hearts Foundation did everything right in terms of developing and implementing this design competition.  The works of the young designers who contributed to this campaign demonstrate both understanding and sensitivity for the issues.  This is the right way to get civil society and the general public more involved in working to put an end to human trafficking.  Congratulations and our deepest respect to all those who were involved in this initiative

But public awareness campaigns are only one piece of an effective strategy to make sure that less hearts are broken.

Protection efforts that empower individuals to move beyond their victimization and rebuild their lives with dignity, security, and respect are essential.  We must foster an environment in which victims are willing to speak without fear of reprisal, stigma, or punishment.  But this in itself is not enough.  Aggressive criminal enforcement is also vital.

Without a doubt, here in Germany, the dramatic recent influx of refugees and migrants has placed a significant strain on government resources, including among agencies responsible for combating trafficking.  Despite this challenge, in addition to providing protections to sex trafficking victims and supporting public awareness campaigns, the German government has maintained strong efforts to prosecute and convict sex traffickers.  However, deterrence requires strong sentences.   Imposing weak or suspended sentences, fines, or administrative penalties undercut efforts to hold traffickers accountable.    Given the scope of the problem, in many cases, efforts to both identify and assist victims and prosecute and convict labor traffickers are often inadequate. Human trafficking is a complex challenge.  It requires major efforts on the part of law enforcement, prosecutors, and the judicial system.   And again, it works best when it is part of a ‘whole of government’ approach. This is a difficult, but a necessary process.  In the U.S, we continue to struggle with this issue.  It is ongoing.  An effective criminal justice response means bringing traffickers to justice both to punish them for their crimes and to serve as a stronger deterrent for would-be traffickers.

We must not waver in our resolve to combat this crime.  Again, collaboration is key to this complex and indeed heart-breaking challenge.  We look forward to continuing our work together, and congratulations on an excellent exhibition.  Thank you.