Anti-Human Trafficking Corporate Laws

Christine Dolan Investigative Journalist
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This is part five of a six-part series. Read the fourth part here.

The anti-trafficking movement has its sights on regulating businesses worldwide. Starting with the 2010 California anti-trafficking corporate law that morphed into the 2015 U.K. Anti-Slavery law that requires corporations to conduct internal supply chains on human trafficking, the push now is for a more stringent law in Australia, and the U.S. and other countries.

In 2016, the U.K. government published a review of its 2015 Anti-Slavery Act. Its author, Caroline Haughery, a U.K. barrister, sits on the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board. In her review, Ms. Haughery calls the U.K. law “an international benchmark,” and notes, the “insufficient quality and quantity of intelligence about the nature and scale of the modern slavery at national, regional, and international level, which hampers the operational response.” Yet, some want to emulate it.

One of the goals is to create a public portal of the corporate findings. In the U.S., some call for the information to be filed with the Security and Exchange Commission.  The next phase is NGOs challenging these corporate statements and encouraging the media to shame them, sue them, or prosecute them, and along the way to create a new international human rights body of law, and create a Global Governance apparatus akin to an international court. The past has proven without a doubt that the human trafficking arena has made false accusations against corporations that even this journalist has investigated that ended up in State Department reports, were included in their countries’ profiles, and became the subject of a documentary distributed at film festivals.

Recently, Humanity United’s (HU) President Randy Newcombe, who also sits on the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board, published an HU report announcing their four pillars of going after corporations – “tools for corporations, investor awareness, brand and reputational risk, and corporate legal accountability.” Their numbers cite 2012 ILO’s outdated numbers:  “21 million slaves in forced labor and 68% in private economy.”

With the increase in laws all over the world in the last 17 years, there still is no uniform definition or law, and no ongoing empirical data. Even in the U.S., state laws do not mirror the U.S. federal law. Is this Global Governance model what President Trump and the U.S. Congress stand for? Is the U.S. abdicating U.S. jurisdiction? Are CEOs and the 1% of the 1% in the business community awake? Is this really what the business leaders running the White House and the Department of State think defines America First?

Human trafficking is one of the outcomes of globalization. One globalized solution will not reverse the tide of this global scourge. We need a massive shift in the paradigm, and economic conversations on how fertile grounds and their stages contribute to human trafficking.  And, they differ considerably from one location, culture and events to another.

Politicians worldwide need to ask if their foreign and trade policy decisions increase human trafficking. Disruptive markets create fertile grounds for trafficking. Corporate leaders need to do voluntary deep dives on their supply chains; if not, they will soon be regulated and it will be a jurisdictional and legal nightmare for them. While corporate leaders ignore these issues, the movement is on the march.

Australian businessman Andrew Forrest had it right when he hit a send button to his suppliers. Sign the affidavit attesting you do not have trafficking in your supply chains. And if you cannot, he would help them clean up the trafficking. That bold business move is far more endorsable than regulating corporations. Free capitalism exercising a conscience can move this fight more effectively than global regulations.

What should the U.S. do to reverse the tide of human trafficking? First, focus on solving the problem here in the United States, not perpetuating the global agenda of the previous administrations that simply exacerbated the problem.

Laura Lederer, a former Senior Advisor on Human Trafficking to the Under Secretary for Global Affairs at the State Department, and currently President of Global Centurion, and a Subject Matter Expert for the U.S. Department of Defense CTIP Office, objects to the Global Fund model because the data is inconclusive and faulty. She believes the research must be ongoing and go upstream.

In 2014, Lederer found ground-breaking research: 87.8% of trafficked victims sought care from health providers while trapped in trafficking situations. Providers treated them and returned them to their traffickers.  This study resulted in new legislation mandating training on human trafficking for health providers across the United States.

Earlier, in 2011, she published a report on Criminal Street Gangs. Lederer analyzed closed case law and found over 200 cases of street gangs involved in sex trafficking.  Her paper, “Sold for Sex: Street Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking” led to new state and local legislation adding trafficking to the list of suspect activities of street gangs, as well as over two-dozen Department of Justice cases prosecuting street gangs like MS-13 for trafficking minors.

Finally, Lederer’s organization, Global Centurion, was the first NGO to focus on Demand Reduction, focusing on the buyers who fuel the markets for sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and organ trafficking, with a 5 point program targeting demand.

These are sound data and relevant to the human trafficking in the United States.

The most valuable act President Trump can take is to stop this Global Fund, which is a slush fund for large NGOs, and order a National Commission on Human Trafficking in America to examine how our domestic and foreign policy affects human trafficking both here and abroad. Then we will be prepared to create a template that other countries can study and tailor to their own particular circumstances.   Make America first by leading the fight against human trafficking with good data, a focused approach, and well-defined measurements of success here at home.  Then, funds that would be used to raise money for a global effort can instead be used to solve problems here.