Remarks at the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Press Conference Sponsored by the Ministry of Interior

Jó napot kívánok! 

Thank you very much, Deputy State Secretary Krisztina Berta, for your kind invitation to join this event.  I would also like to thank the media representatives for attending today.  Your reporting greatly helps us raise public awareness.  And raising awareness – as Ms. Berta already made clear – is critical in preventing human trafficking.

The fight against human trafficking matters deeply to me.  As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said two weeks ago, when he introduced the 2015 Trafficking In Persons Report: “human trafficking is a modern version of slavery.”  This criminal act is the violation of personal freedom and the infringement of human dignity.  More than 20 million adults and children around the world, including in the United States, are victims of modern slavery.

It may seem unlikely, on this sunny afternoon, in this place full of music and celebration, that human trafficking risks are part of the landscape.  But they are.

Throughout my career, I have been active in groups dealing with child-abuse prevention and crime victim assistance.  I have personally talked with women and girls who fell victim to human trafficking.  Listening to victims’ stories reveals that the roots of the phenomenon are complex.

What creates the right conditions for trafficking?  Traffickers exploit many forms of misery.   The persistence of extreme poverty is a serious exacerbating factor. Discrimination against women and ethnic minorities plays a corrosive role.  Corruption and other failures of governance further feed the phenomenon.  Traffickers even use social media to trick victims into slavery.  That is why the United States is working with our international partners at every level to attack the root causes of trafficking, to warn potential victims, to prosecute traffickers, and to empower victims as they rebuild their lives.

Tackling the crime of trafficking includes what we call the “three Ps:” Prevention, Prosecution and Protection.  Raising awareness is critically important to prevention.  Events like this one, the annual Sziget Festival, provide us opportunities to educate young people – and make clear that anyone can become a victim of trafficking.  These campaigns can have tremendous impact.  They can cut the number of potential victims simply by educating people about what the risks are.  I applaud the Hungarian Ministry of Interior for organizing their anti-trafficking campaign at the Sziget Festival for the fourth consecutive year, and reaching thousands of young people from all around the world with their anti-trafficking message.

As part of our effort to raise international awareness about the dangers of human trafficking, U.S. embassies around the world work every year to draft the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, or as we call it, the TIP Report.  The TIP Report assesses anti-trafficking efforts of 188 countries and territories, including the United States, and report on all “three P’s – prevention, prosecution of traffickers, and protection of victims.  The purpose of the TIP Report is not to scold and shame countries, but to educate, to stimulate action and to create partnerships around the world in the fight against modern slavery.  We want to provide a strong incentive for governments at every level to do all that they can to prosecute traffickers and to protect the vulnerable.

In this year’s TIP report, we saw disturbing trends.  There are increasing numbers of migrants worldwide who face the danger of becoming trafficking victims.  With the high number of asylum seekers and immigrants arriving in Hungary since last year, the Hungarian government has faced steep challenges lately.  The dramatic and rapid increase of migrants not only means handling many more asylum claims, but also a greater responsibility to identify potential trafficking victims and provide them with protection and assistance.  Governments have to strengthen working relationships and cooperation with partners such as civil society, investigative journalists, advocacy groups, faith groups, educators, and researchers.

No nation can end or even tackle modern slavery alone.  We are grateful that cooperation between the United States and Hungary is strong in the field of law enforcement, including combatting human trafficking.

Thank you to the Hungarian Ministry of Interior for our strong partnership in this area.  And thank you again to the media for making our efforts better known and understood.  We hope the work we do together today will help put an end modern slavery.  Köszönöm szépen.