Human Trafficking Modern Day Slavery B r e a k F r e e F o u n d a t i o n In t e r n a t i o n a l S p e e c h By Kevin Pennant May 29, 2010 Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Brooklyn, NY
© 2010 Kevin Pennant
Human Trafficking Good Morning, esteemed panel members, special guests, and volunteer members of the Break Free International Foundation and fellow advocates who are here today to hear our concerns about Human Trafficking. A Major Concern It is more than just a pause for concern; it is an act of attrition against the human spirit, and a deplorable act of contempt on the disadvantaged and underprivileged. It is immoral and unethical that children are being exploited as economic pawns, giving rise to a growing cycle of abuse and a flagrant disregard for basic human rights. The basic human rights to which we are all entitled to and to which we are all obligated to communicate around the world. A special thanks goes out to organizations like The Break Free Foundation International, led by Roseline Amusu, who I would like to personally commend for her vehement fight against such atrocities. Those human traffickers and human smugglers that engage in forcing our young people against their own volition, and enticing them to engage in demoralizing servitude for economic gain around the world; a form of debt bondage, they partake in transnational crimes against humanity. I am saddened and dismayed that this modern form of slavery continues to exist today and in stark contrast to what history has afforded us, in a lesson not shared, and in a lesson not learned. Traffickers circumvent the universal rights and freedoms of people – man, woman and child, and undermine the right to human dignity that is interdependent with the dignity we all share, uphold, and protect. That such markets for such atrocities exist is quite disheartening. That an individual or group will use his or her own free will, to seize upon the free will of another is just sacrilegious and despicable. We need to see that more pressure and strict punishment is placed on labor recruiters who participate in trafficking and in securing workers through fraudulent offers. In a speech by the head of the United States Justice Department on May 3 of this year, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, spoke of recent efforts of enforcement officials who have detected human trafficking crimes, that led to prosecutions. Some of these efforts led to liberating Jamaican tree-cutters from shacks in New Hampshire; Peruvian factory workers – including children – from traffickers on Long Island; and young girls from Togo and Ghana – some were just 10 years old – from toiling around the clock without pay in hair salons in New Jersey. (The United States Department of Justice, 2010) According to the UN Chronicle, report issued March of 2010, over 2.4 million men, mostly women and children, have been trafficked into forced labor worldwide. Over 12,000 children are working as slaves on cocoa plantations in West Africa, which is where more than a third of the world’s chocolate comes from. To this day most of the big chocolate manufacturers cannot guarantee that
their supply chains are “traffik free” or “not free of child slavery.” (Chalke & Dearnley, 2010) If we sit idle and turn a blind eye to these unfortunate circumstances and events it will prove detrimental for generations to come. It will send a bad message, a belief that some people are less than human. We should all be compelled to act as part of the Break Free Campaign, and as dignified members of a human race, to bring about awareness that every human being, be able to express the right to live a dignified life, that our freedoms to make decisions for ourselves remain unabated, and that opportunities are afforded as a basic innate principle for all. We should continue to promote and bring awareness to child trafficking for generations to come. There are special visas created in the U.S. under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and allows trafficking victims to remain in the United States to assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases, and to give them a place of refuge in the aftermath of severe exploitation. (Lagon, 2009) We need to highlight this because according to annual reports from Congress and Assessment of the US Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted approximately, or I should say only 2,000 “T” visas from the years 2001 through January 2008. These are surprisingly low numbers, which amounts to about 285 persons a year over this seven-year span. We should bring to light those policies that conflate both human smuggling and illegal immigration which have the potential to punish the very same victims that the Break Free Foundation is trying to protect. We need to bring awareness to this. We need to bring attention to those engaged in these indignations and implore governments to crush these human traffickers, we should take umbrage to governments and their respective medias that ignore the considerable damage that our young and innocent face in our world. I thank you all for lending me your ear for this brief moment to convey my motivations, in dignifying our brothers and sisters, and our innocent children for our future sake.
Thank You and God Bless
Works Cited Chalke, S., & Dearnley, R. (2010, March 01). Human Trafficking. UN Chronicle . Lagon, M. P. (2009, January). Trafficking and Human Dignity. Retrieved from EBSCO - Policy Review: http://ehis.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&hid=2&sid=2505afb8 -aeef-4e7b-89c1-e8f94eaaaca1%40sessionmgr14 The United States Department of Justice. (2010, May 03). Justice News Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at National Conference on Human Trafficking. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from The United States Department of Justice: http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2010/ag-speech-100503.html