The United States condemns the continued atrocities and abductions committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) across central Africa. We remain committed to supporting our regional partners’ efforts to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the LRA. Since 2008, the United States has provided over $40 million in critical logistical support, equipment and training to enhance counter-LRA operations by regional militaries. We continue to join regional governments in calling on LRA fighters to peacefully disarm and return home.
With the consent of the Government of Uganda, and as notified to Congress, the United States has sent a small number of U.S. military advisors to the region to assist the forces that are pursuing the LRA and seeking to bring top commanders to justice. These advisors will work with our regional partners and the African Union in the field to strengthen information-sharing, enhance coordination and planning, and improve the overall effectiveness of military operations and the protection of civilians. These advisors will not engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.
This is one component of an ongoing, comprehensive U.S. strategy to address the LRA threat, in accordance with the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Act signed into law in 2011. This strategy includes efforts to help increase the protection of civilians, encourage and facilitate defections of lower-level LRA fighters, and provide continued humanitarian relief.
In May 2010, President Obama signed into law the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to support regional partners’ efforts to end the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa. For more than two decades, the LRA has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and South Sudan as a result of LRA activity.
The United States’ comprehensive, multi-year strategy seeks to help mitigate and end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA. The strategy outlined four strategic objectives for U.S. support: (1) the increased protection of civilians, (2) the apprehension or removal of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield, (3) the promotion of defections and support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters, and (4) the provision of continued humanitarian relief to affected communities. The United States’ decision, announced today, to send a small group of military advisers to assist the forces that are countering the LRA forms part of our continuing effort to achieve these strategic objectives.
To summarize the lines of effort in which the United States has been engaged:
Increasing Civilian Protection: The protection of civilians is central to the U.S. strategy. The United States is working with the governments in the region, the UN, and other partners to reduce the vulnerability of communities and increase the capacity of communities to make decisions related to their own safety. We also strongly support the UN peacekeeping forces in DRC and South Sudan, and we continue to work with the UN to augment their efforts in the LRA-affected region. In the DRC, the State Department and USAID are funding projects to help communities develop protection plans and bolster early warning capabilities. These projects include high frequency radios and cell phone towers.
Countering the LRA: Over the last year, the United States has worked with partners at the UN Security Council and African Union to maintain momentum and enhance coordination to counter the LRA. We have also continued to engage frequently and at a high-level with the governments in the region on the importance of their continued military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. We have provided significant support for those efforts. Since 2008, the United States has provided over $40 million in critical logistical support, equipment and training to enhance counter-LRA operations by regional militaries.
Today’s announcement forms part of our support for the international community’s efforts to counter the LRA. As notified to Congress, with the consent of the Government of Uganda, we have sent a small number of U.S. military advisors to assist the forces that are pursing the LRA. These advisors will work with the forces in the field to strengthen information-sharing, enhance coordination and planning, and improve the overall effectiveness of military operations.
Providing Humanitarian Assistance: The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to LRA-affected populations in CAR, DRC and South Sudan. In Fiscal Year 2011, the United States provided more than $18 million to support food security, humanitarian protection, health, and livelihoods initiatives for internally displaced persons, host community members, and other affected populations. We also continue to support efforts across the affected countries to demobilize and reintegrate former LRA fighters and all those victimized by this conflict back into normal life.
Office of the Spokesman
The Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) announces the additional award of $4.75 million to ten grantees to strengthen Haitian institutional and civil society capacity to identify and respond to human trafficking. The funding stems from the U.S. Congress under the Supplemental Act, 2010.
The grantees include: Catholic Relief Services, Free the Slaves, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, International Association for Women Judges, International Organization for Migration, SHARE Institute/Survivors Connect, University of San Francisco Center for Law and Global Justice, and the Warnath Group LLC.
The award of ten additional grants signifies the United States’ continued commitment to rule of law and the protection of children in Haiti as well as strengthening law enforcement responses against traffickers taking advantage of vulnerable persons in a post-disaster situation. ”
The grantees will work with local partners to help draft anti-trafficking legislation, support direct services for victims’ recovery, and prevent human trafficking and gender-based violence in the internally displaced persons camps. Additionally, grantees will increase the capacity of targeted law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases and social welfare agencies to recognize human trafficking and make referrals for services.
As the issue of involuntary child domestic servitude under the ‘restavek’ system continues to be a high priority, grantees will also increase public awareness about it. The 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report estimates that 225,000 children were enslaved before the earthquake.
Anti-trafficking experts were part of the emergency response and the planning to rebuild in Haiti. Following the earthquake last January, G/TIP funded nearly $1 million in new grants to respond to the heightened risk of trafficking of Haitian children. This included assistance to restore the lives of child trafficking victims through the provision of nutritional, medical, psychological, and educational assistance; a safe shelter; and reintegration assistance. It also enabled the screening of children at all four designated border crossings between Haiti and the Dominican Republic – a process never before conducted at the border. Children identified as suspected victims of trafficking are now registered, transferred into the care of the appropriate Haitian Government agency and, when possible, reunified with their families.
Secretary Clinton To Convene Cabinet Secretaries for the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons on February 1
Notice to the Press
Secretary Clinton, Attorney General Holder, Secretaries Napolitano and Solis, and Ambassador CdeBaca to brief the press following Task Force Meeting
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will host the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at approximately 2:00 p.m. on February 1 at the Department of State. Cabinet-level officials will participate in the meeting, including the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, Labor, Health & Human Services, and Homeland Security.
An open press camera spray will take place at the beginning of the Task Force meeting in the Thomas Jefferson Room at the Department of State.
Pre-set time for video cameras: 1:15 p.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance Lobby.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 1:45 p.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance Lobby.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., Secretary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will deliver brief remarks to the press on the U.S. Government’s new interagency initiatives to combat trafficking in persons, in the Press Briefing Room at the Department of State. Following remarks from the Secretaries, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca will take questions from the press. This will occur in the Press Briefing Room (2209) at the Department of State.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 authorized the President to establish the President’s Interagency Task Force (PITF), a cabinet-level task force to coordinate federal efforts to combat human trafficking. The PITF is chaired by the Secretary of State and meets at least once a year.
The Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons coordinates the United States’ fight against contemporary forms of slavery. The office was created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. Ambassador-at-Large CdeBaca directs the Department of State’s anti-trafficking efforts in the Office of Democracy and Global Affairs, under the leadership of Under Secretary María Otero.
Media representatives may attend the camera spray and/or press briefing upon presentation of one of the following: (1) A U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification card (driver’s license, passport).
U.S. Department of State
Office of Press Relations
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 adds additional measures to prevent and deter human trafficking. These measures include technical assistance to foreign governments to increase their capacity to investigate an inspect businesses where they might be trafficked or child labor; technical assistance to foreign governments to provide immigrant groups with information on their rights; and technical assistance to help foreign governments develop legal frameworks to protect and regulate labor.
In addition, Title IV of the reauthorization incorporates the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008. The Child Soldier Prevention Act defines a child soldier as anyone under the age of 18 who takes “direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces,” who has been forcibly recruited into the governmental armed forces, or who has been recruited by a non-state army. A child soldier is also anyone under the age of 15 who has been voluntarily recruited into governmental armed forces. Finally, the classification can apply to anyone under the age of 18 who is involved in combat in a support role, such as a cook, porter, or sex slave. The legislation calls on the United States to condemn the use of child soldiers; establish, support and uphold, international standards related to the use of child soldiers; and expand services to help child soldiers. In addition, the legislation calls on diplomatic missions to develop a plan for helping child soldiers, and prevents the United States from providing military assistance to any foreign government that uses or permits the use of child soldiers.
The Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2008 prohibits the recruitment and use of child soldiers and provides for penalties in the form of fines and up to 20 years in prison for U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident offenders.
The 2000 Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (TVPA) is intended to combat human trafficking, by requiring reporting, placing conditions on foreign assistance, increasing penalties for traffickers, and increasing protection for trafficking victims. The legislation also calls for the creation of an Interagency Task Force to Combat Trafficking, headed by the Secretary of State and including representatives from the Departments of Justice, Labor, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services. The Task Force is to measure U.S. and international progress to combat trafficking, research and report on human trafficking, and increase cooperation with other countries to combat trafficking. The legislation also calls for the creation of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking within the State Department, to support the Secretary of State in leading the Task Force.
The TVPA focuses on preventing trafficking by enhancing economic opportunities for potential victims, increasing public awareness and information related to the issue and improving services available to trafficking victims. The TVPA also calls for U.S. assistance in the safe reintegration of trafficking victims back into their countries of origin and amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to increase opportunities for trafficking victims to stay in the United States when returning to their home countries is not possible.
Under the TVPA, the State Department is required to produce an annual report on human trafficking around the world. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Reports include a list of governments that meet minimum standards to combat trafficking, those not yet meeting those standards but taking steps to do so, and those who have not met the minimum standards and are not taking sufficient steps to do so. Whether or not the minimum standards are met depends on whether the country is a point of “origin, transit, or destination for severe forms of trafficking;” whether the government has been involved in the trafficking; and whether, given the government’s resources, it is reasonable to expect them to be compliant. To address those countries that have not met the minimum standards, the President is empowered to cancel foreign assistance or educational and cultural exchanges. The President is also empowered to ask the IMF, World Bank, or other international organizations to terminate loans to such nations. Finally, the President has the authority to sanction individuals who are “significant traffickers in persons.”
The TVPA also provides for increased criminal penalties for those who have been found guilty of trafficking as well as mandatory restitution for trafficking victims.