First Lady Presents Strategies to Fight Human Trafficking

Welcome Video Message by First Lady Laura Bush
"Strategies to Combat Human Trafficking in Asia"
June 23, 2004

Good morning. I'm Laura Bush. President Bush and I would like to thank you for attending this regional conference on human trafficking in Asia. Your presence today, and, even more importantly, the actions you will take in the coming days as a result of this conference, are vital as the world community joins forces to stop trafficking in persons.

I want you to know that ending modern-day slavery is a high priority for President Bush, the United States Congress, and the people of America. We are committed to taking action in cooperation with other nations of the world to ensure that all women, men, and children can live in freedom and liberty. We are monitoring human trafficking patterns, we are working to build public awareness, and we plan to spend approximately $150 million over two years to support anti-trafficking in persons programs around the world.

Because human trafficking is a crime that crosses borders, we know regional and international cooperation is crucial. We applaud the initiative you are taking to cooperate in Asia.

Modern-day slavery is a serious threat to almost every nation, including our own. It is, at its heart, a human rights issue. But even beyond human rights, trafficking in persons threatens the health of our communities through the spread of disease while undermining the safety and security of nations through the growth of organized crime.

The trade in human beings is truly a multi-dimensional threat none of us can afford to ignore.

Our urgency only grows when we think about the individual victims of this terrible crime - children trafficked into slavery as child soldiers or sex slaves; men trafficked into slavery as forced laborers; women trafficked into slavery as sex slaves or domestic servants. These abusive and intolerable situations shock the conscience, which is why we are so encouraged that you are gathered to not just talk about the situation, but to stimulate real action to help vulnerable people who deserve freedom.

Ending this scourge will take the action of governments, non-government organizations, international organizations, and individuals working together. From passing tough anti-trafficking laws to rescuing slaves to providing care and assistance to victims, we all have critical roles to play.

Best wishes to you as you carry out this very important work.