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White House Releases 2021 National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

December 06, 2021

By Tara K. Giunta, Jonathan C. Drimmer, Nicola Bonucci, & Renata Parras

On Friday, December 3, 2021, the White House released the 2021 National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The three-year Action Plan is centered on the foundational pillars of U.S. and global anti-trafficking efforts – prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership – and calls upon partner agencies across the Executive Branch to implement a number of Priority Actions to enhance U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking.

The Action Plan comes on the heels of the annual meeting co-sponsored by the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the largest annual meeting of its kind focused on human trafficking, which emphasized the need for National Actions Plans to increase momentum and maximize national anti-trafficking responses.

The Action Plan lays out a broad-based, multi-disciplinary, whole-of-government approach to addressing this crime and stresses its harmful impacts on victims, their communities and our national security. The anti-trafficking efforts outlined in the Action Plan are directly linked to the Administration’s broader efforts to address inequities for marginalized communities which often experience overlapping social and economic inequities. As a result, individuals from these communities may be more vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking. The Action Plan also reflects the Administration’s commitment to workers’ rights and ending forced labor in global supply chains, which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated due, in part, to job insecurity, supply chain disruptions, and exponential demand for essential medical supplies and services. The Plan also serves as an important component of advancing the Administration’s priority of ensuring safe, orderly, and humane migration.

Importantly, the Action Plan emphasizes collaboration with state and local governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations in implementing an effective victim-centered and trauma-informed anti-trafficking policy and strategy.

The following are the most relevant key takeaways from the 2021 Action Plan:

  1. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will launch a labor trafficking enforcement initiative, with priority placed on interagency enforcement initiatives focused on high impact prosecutions for forced labor violations.
  2. There will be a focus on dismantling organized criminal human trafficking enterprises by disrupting their financial networks, communications and other infrastructures, and by targeting facilitators of human trafficking.
  3. There will be continued enhancement of programs and processes that encourage information sharing between governmental agencies and private sector partners that informs a strategic outcome.
  4. There will be a push to develop new and improved technology for human trafficking interdiction and to identify technical barriers that impede investigations.
  5. There will be a push to address aspects of nonimmigrant visa programs that may facilitate the exploitation of visa applicants and visa holders.
  6. The U.S. Department of Justice will seek to establish federally funded but locally-led human trafficking task forces that are long-term sustainable.
  7. There will be greater support for research and the development of evidence needed to better prevent and respond to human trafficking in persons in the United States.

This new Action Plan delivers a three-year comprehensive approach to combat human trafficking that will no doubt warrant adjustments for corporations, financial institutions and organizations as well as provide opportunities to enhance partnerships, business operations, technology and processes that detect and prevent trafficking initiatives. Indeed, the new Action Plan emphasizes the unique position that the private sector occupies to leverage economic power to influence existing markets, and create new ones, where workers can enjoy human dignity and are free from coercion and exploitation. Meaningful engagement with the private sector by law enforcement is not only encouraged in the Action Plan but identified as integral to forming creative solutions informed by a diverse expertise. The Action Plan makes clear that the Administration considers private sector actors to be partners in the fight against human trafficking and underscores the importance of integrating ESG/HR issues into their operational programs to do so.

A link to the Fact Sheet can be found here:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/03/fact-sheet-the-national-action-plan-to-combat-human-trafficking-nap/