THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
March 15, 2012
Statement by the President on the Meeting of the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Nearly one hundred and fifty years ago, in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to the enduring cause of freedom. Then as now, we remain steadfast in our resolve to see that all men, women, and children have the opportunity to realize this greatest of gifts. Yet millions around the world—including here in the United States—toil under the boot of modern slavery. Mothers and fathers are forced to work in fields and factories against their will or in service to debts that can never be repaid. Sons and daughters are sold for sex, abducted as child soldiers, or coerced into involuntary labor. In dark corners of our world, and hidden in plain sight in our own communities, human beings are exploited for financial gain and subjected to unspeakable cruelty.
Slavery remains the affront to human dignity and stain on our collective conscience that it has always been. That is why members of my cabinet and senior advisors gathered at the White House today, at a meeting chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to lay out their plans for meeting this challenge. The United States is committed to eradicating trafficking in persons, and we will draw on tools ranging from law enforcement and victim service provision, to public awareness building and diplomatic pressure. Because we know that government efforts are not enough, we are also increasing our partnerships with a broad coalition of local communities, faith-based and non-governmental organizations, schools, and businesses.
To bring all these elements together, and to be sure we are maximizing our efforts, today I am directing my cabinet to find ways to strengthen our current work, and to expand on partnerships with civil society and the private sector, so that we can bring more resources to bear in fighting this horrific injustice. In the coming weeks the White House will build on this gathering on behalf of human dignity. I am confident that we will one day end the scourge of modern slavery, because I believe in those committed to this issue: young people, people of faith and station, Americans who refuse to accept this injustice and will not rest until it is vanquished. Today, I reaffirm that the United States stands with them, and that together we will realize the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our country’s ideal of freedom.