By: REBECCA JUN
On October 29, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented the 2019 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons to Truckers Against Trafficking and the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA).
Every year, the Secretary of State presents these awards to up to five individuals or organizations who are chosen by the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF). PITF is a cabinet-level entity, chaired by the Secretary, which includes representatives from more than a dozen government agencies, including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Labor. This task force was formed following President Obama’s call to bolster federal efforts to combat human trafficking in March 2012, spurring the first White House Forum to Combat Human Trafficking in April 2013.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a nonprofit organization that works to discover and disrupt human trafficking networks by “raising up a mobile army of transportation professionals to assist law enforcement in the recognition and reporting of human trafficking, in order to aid in the recovery of victims and the arrest of their perpetrators.” Transportation professionals, including truck drivers, commercial and school bus drivers, and shipping carriers, are in a unique position to close loopholes to traffickers as “the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways.” TAT has trained 795,906 people, generated 636 likely cases, and identified 1,186 victims since 2011.
The Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) is the world’s largest industry coalition dedicated to improving social, environmental, and ethical conditions in their global supply chains. The RBA and its Responsible Minerals, Labor, and Factory Initiatives have nearly 400 members and a combined annual revenue of more than $7.7 trillion. They employ more than 21.5 million people and manufacture products in more than 120 countries. The RBA received this award for its “innovative work and leadership within the global business community to push for industry-wide change to enhance worker protections, transform the market for ethical recruitment practices, and promote strong management systems to prevent human trafficking and trafficking risks in global supply chains.”
Past recipients of this award include the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Students Opposing Slavery, and anti-trafficking leaders such as Dr. Christopher White, Ms. Minal Patel Davis, and Mr. William C. Woolf III.
At the award ceremony, the Secretaries on the PTIF shared a fundamental theme for 2020: training. The focus on training will call Americans to action, because “[Human trafficking] takes place not just in distant corners of the world but here in our backyard,” Pompeo said. The hope is trafficking will become a priority among students, teachers, health care providers, and park rangers, empowering and equipping anti-trafficking leaders across the United States.