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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at NGO Roundtable on Trafficking; Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children Network Office
Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 20, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much for the information you have given us and for being here with us today. I'm very glad that we have been brought here by the Ambassador's wife, Mrs. Holtzman and that we have with us Members of Congress.

As Secretary of State, I have been raising the issue of trafficking everywhere; so has the President. I remember the first time we talked about this in an international meeting was about four years ago in a U.S.-EU summit. We have raised it as a basic issue in all the international fora.

I belong to a very exclusive group, which is women foreign ministers. There are about twelve of us in the whole world and we signed a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations about the importance of trafficking. We are trying in every way to put the problem on the map. I think that not enough people understand that trafficking is now the third largest profit-earner for organized crime behind drugs and guns. But I think most governments, including ours, are still in the early stages of addressing the problem. So it very important to have witness here from some of our most supportive Members of Congress who are able to really pursue this subject.

We all wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about the problems you face. We know better what they are now. Meeting downstairs with the women and children who have been so deeply affected by this is the best way to fully comprehend the problem and it has been further explained to me through the various stories they shared with us.

These are the types of images that will stick in my mind as I go around and talk about the problem in even more detail. I hope very much that we can have a very frank discussion about this here. Maybe we can provide ideas for your very excellent report as to what we can do more specifically to bring these problems to the attention of the world and specifically what more we can do in terms of remedies.

By way of questions, perhaps I can ask them and people can decide how they want to answer.

  • What do you think is the single most effective way to reduce trafficking?
  • What can be done to improve the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental organizations? You've mentioned that we cooperate, but I know there is more to be done.
  • What more can be done to improve the legal response to trafficking.
  • And finally, what is the progress we've made in bringing back to their homes the women and children that have been trafficked? I know some of the stories downstairs (lead) to questions of how they are repatriated and whether societies are set up to take people back.
I think these are obviously the issues you deal with on an hour-to-hour basis. I think we would be very interested in hearing your responses and how we can be more helpful

[End of Document]
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