May, 30

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thanks Tony.

Good afternoon everyone.  

The horrors of human trafficking are well known to this group.

At the Justice Department, we are committed to combating this heinous crime from every angle. 

This includes bringing traffickers to justice and vindicating the rights of victims and survivors.

We are expanding our capacity to prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking crimes across all 94 of our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. 

Prosecutors in our Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit work closely with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and our law enforcement agencies to streamline investigations and to identify multi-jurisdictional trafficking networks.

In June 2021, we established Joint Task Force Alpha in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. The task force works within the United States and with our foreign partners in the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico to dismantle the most dangerous human smuggling and trafficking networks.

Building on those activities, last year we launched our National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking to bring the full force of the Justice Department to this fight.

Since then, we have taken important steps to implement this strategy. I’ll highlight just a few examples.

First, we have released an updated version of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. This version incorporates enhanced protections and addresses specific considerations for vulnerable victims and members of marginalized communities.

Second, we are working closely with our interagency partners to improve identification of human trafficking victims encountered during law enforcement operations.

With the Department of Homeland Security and other federal partners, we are developing a Human Trafficking Victim Screening Protocol to advance victim-centered best practices across all federal enforcement operations.

It will also serve as a model for our state, local, territorial, and Tribal enforcement partners.

And we continue to train all relevant Department personnel on identifying trafficking victims during investigations involving other offenses, such as immigration and narcotics investigations.

Third, the Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit continues to lead the interagency Forced Labor Initiative.

This initiative was launched last year with the FBI and our partners at the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security. Together, we are expanding our capacity to:

  • Assess forced labor threats;
  • Initiate investigations and prosecutions; and
  • Provide tailored expertise and guidance to advance district-level efforts to detect, investigate, and prosecute labor trafficking.

Finally, the government – the Department – is helping build capacity to combat human trafficking nationwide.  

In Fiscal Year 2023, our Office for Victims of Crime will disburse more than $95 in grant funding to combat human trafficking and support victim and survivor services across the country.

The Department of Justice remains steadfast in our commitment to combating human trafficking – and to the whole-of-government effort that this requires.

I look forward to our continued partnership with all of you in the days ahead.

Thank you.

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