Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Meeting on Trafficking
Mumbai, India, March 24, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
Thank you very much and I really do appreciate all of you coming this afternoon.
In his address on Wednesday to the Indian Parliament, President Clinton called trafficking "a modern form of slavery" and he announced $1.6 million in new funding for the fight against it in South Asia. Much of this assistance is going to go to help grassroots, national, and regional NGOs cooperate more closely with each other and the law enforcement officials; and also to help you promote public awareness about trafficking.
In this spirit I do congratulate you all very much for bringing so many people and institutions together during the "Save Our Sisters" campaign. Save Our Sisters was an innovative and effective way to highlight the problem of trafficking in Mumbai and across the sub-continent. And it was a reminder that we all have roles to play in the fight against this modern-day slave trade.
As Secretary of State, I raise issues of trafficking at every opportunity with other leaders and diplomats and so does President Clinton. And we're finding an increasing number of people and partners in countries all around the world. For instance, I belong to a very exclusive group, that of women Foreign Ministers. There are only 13 of us now in the whole world, and we have taken this up as one of our issues. We signed a letter last September to the Secretary General of the United Nations, about trafficking and the importance of fighting it everywhere.
The international community is currently negotiating an important anti-trafficking protocol to supplement the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and India will play a key role if we are to succeed in concluding the negotiations on the protocol during this year. What the protocol would do would be to require governments to work together to enact laws to punish traffickers and protect victims.
One of the things that I've been trying to do is to get people to understand the seriousness of trafficking and that it is now the third largest source of profits for international organized crime, behind only drugs and guns. It is perhaps the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, and to one degree or another, it afflicts every nation, including the United States. But most governments -- including my own -- are only at the early stages of attempting to address the problem.
So I wanted to take this opportunity to spend time with you and learn more and ask how the United States and the international community can help those of you who really are there in the front lines of this issues.
On Monday, I had a very informative discussion with NGO leaders and trafficking survivors in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I hope that we can have an equally frank and open discussion this afternoon about the trafficking problem as you see it and the best ways to remedy it.
I would like very much to know, in detail, how the international community can best help you to protect those who are vulnerable, how we can help in assisting the victims, and apprehend the perpetrators and educate the public.
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