July 29, 2015
AIT Official Text #: OT-1517
President Ma, Minister Chen, Minister Hsiao, Director-General Mo, distinguished guests, friends, good morning. First of all, I would like to extend my thanks to all our friends at the National Immigration Agency for bringing together so many experts and stakeholders from around the world to discuss this important issue.
Today’s event comes only two days after the U.S. Department of State released its 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report. We were pleased to announce that this year’s report gave Taiwan the highest possible ranking, or “Tier One,” for the sixth year in a row. As one of only four places in the Asia-Pacific region to obtain a Tier One ranking, Taiwan stands out as a regional and global leader for its efforts to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute offenders.
In the six years since Taiwan enacted its Human Trafficking Prevention and Control Act, it has made major strides in bringing this issue to the forefront and developing expertise and procedures for handling suspected trafficking cases and protecting victims. This annual event is an excellent way for Taiwan to share its experiences with international partners, and for experts from around the world to discuss best practices and ongoing challenges. Even though trafficking does not necessarily involve the crossing of borders, it is nonetheless at its core a transnational issue that we must work together to address.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has noted, the sad reality is that no government is doing enough to combat human trafficking – and that includes the United States. Trafficking is one of the largest criminal enterprises on earth, generating more than $150 billion a year in profit, and yet it often goes undetected. Only a small fraction of the estimated 20 million trafficking victims globally have been identified and their cases prosecuted.
It is only by working together that we will strengthen international accountability, improve coordination among and within governments, and increase public awareness of the problem. That is one reason why the theme of our 2015 Trafficking in Persons report is “Preventing Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains.”
The report is a call to action for governments, businesses, and individuals to effect change by identifying the risks associated with the purchases they make, demanding accountability in supply chains, promoting and enforcing policies that prohibit human trafficking and practices that facilitate it, and punishing those who perpetrate this crime. As Secretary Kerry has said, “money may be able to buy a lot of things, but it should never, ever be able to buy another human being.”
One of the greatest zones of impunity is in the supply chains, where we see individuals desperate for work, unscrupulous brokers who exploit workers, companies greedy for profits, and customers looking to save money without regard to how the products they are buying were produced. Addressing this impunity requires more than just laws and regulations. Each and every one of us has a responsibility.
And it is in this spirit that we applaud the National Immigration Agency and partners for placing a spotlight on human trafficking by bringing together stakeholders from around the world and from various walks of life for this seminar. These discussions serve as an important reminder that all of us still have a lot of work to do to address the terrible scourge that is human trafficking.
We welcome Taiwan’s engagement with the United States and other international partners as we work together to eradicate this modern-day slavery.