Acting Administrator John Barsa’s Remarks at Annual Meeting of President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Speeches Shim

Monday, October 19, 2020

Hello everyone. It’s a pleasure to join you all today to mark 20 years of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

USAID proudly contributes to the U.S. government’s global anti-trafficking efforts, having provided over $300 million in assistance to 81 countries since 2001.

Trafficking survivors and the interagency are key partners in the fight against human trafficking, from organized crime in places like Libya and Nigeria, to alleged state-sponsored trafficking in Cuba.

That is why we are revising our policy on Countering Trafficking in Persons, or C-TIP, to further bring our key partners into our work. With the revised policy coming in January of 2021, USAID will bring trafficking survivors and State Department colleagues into our technical and selection committees, providing survivors with the opportunity to inform policies and programs that directly affect them.

And we are encouraging implementing partners and partner governments to do the same.

In addition, USAID Missions in countries ranked under the Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3 are now prioritizing staff and resources to integrate C-TIP programs into their strategies.

For example, after three years on the Tier 2 Watch List, Liberia improved its ranking to Tier 2—in part because of the government’s efforts to more than double investigations and prosecutions. To support the government’s efforts, USAID and the State Department jointly identified ways to address C-TIP recommendations across the existing country portfolio.

USAID is also strengthening our investments in research and evaluation to develop tailored interventions and innovations.

Currently, we are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to assess the countries of origin and risk factors for children trafficked into the U.S., which will equip USAID Missions with the information to prevent child trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and protect vulnerable children.

On July 30, USAID hosted our largest event for World Day Against Trafficking. With representation from private, public, and faith-based organizations, we hosted a panel to discuss the significant increase in online sexual exploitation of children, decline in prosecutions, and loss of jobs.

The stories from survivors that day demonstrated their remarkable resilience, driving them to eventually lead their own businesses and a nonprofit to assist other victims. USAID helped these survivors by providing safe housing, psychosocial support, and livelihood training. We are proud to see that they have become agents of change and role models for other survivors.

We are also adapting our response in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, lockdowns have increased online sexual exploitation of children, with 8 out of every 10 children at risk of online abuse.

USAID is working with the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, civil society organizations, and the private sector to monitor online trafficking activity, send out local warning messages, and seek support from Facebook and media platforms to amplify our work.

We are proud of our progress to date, and we look forward to ending trafficking once and for all in the years to come.