Remarks by Ambassador Eisenberg at the Trafficking in Persons Round-table

February 1, 2018
American Embassy
Young Conference Room

(As prepared for delivery)

Thank you to everyone for joining us today. I would like to thank Cesare Sirignano of the Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office for his crucial collaboration in helping to convene this meeting today.

I would also like to thank Joel Maybury and Mark Carlson of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, who are with us today all the way from Washington to share their views.

Trafficking-in-Persons, also known in some circles as modern slavery, is one of the most difficult and urgent problems that we face today in the international community. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently said, “Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time.  It splinters families, distorts global markets, undermines the rule of law, and spurs other transnational criminal activity.”

Countering human trafficking is a priority for both the United States and Italy.  Both of our countries have acquired experience in dealing with large numbers of regular and irregular migrants, many of whom are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking, subjected to coercion, debt bondage, and exploitation at some point in their long journey.

It is important that we share best practices and experiences, whether our countries are source, transit, and destination countries, or all of those. This is a multi-dimensional, multi-country challenge; no one country can fix this on its own.

That is why I am happy also to welcome our guests from other embassies, including our Nigerian counterparts. I hope that this meeting will pave the way for further cooperation between all of our countries.

Our goal today is to focus on how we can take more action by improving our efforts in one specific area: international cooperation on trafficking investigations and prosecutions.

Before we begin, it is worth noting that Italy is on the front lines of the migration surge. The wave of migration that Europe has experienced in the last several years poses unique challenges, as those smuggled often become trafficking victims in their pursuit of a better life.

Italy highlighted its anti-TIP efforts at the G7 Ministerial on Equal Opportunity at Taormina this past November.  The Chamber of Deputies also hosted Nigeria’s Anti Trafficking Director General last year.

Italy continues to welcome, host, and integrate thousands of asylum seekers and refugees.  Among them are many trafficking victims.  Through the hardworking efforts of the Italian government and many NGOs, some of these victims are located and freed, although others are yet to be freed.

The United States also faces the challenge of protecting trafficking victims in our country.  We all have an obligation under the UN’s Palermo Protocol on Trafficking, ratified by more than 175 nations, to identify and assist trafficking victims wherever we may find them.

In this effort, international cooperation is essential, not just in identifying and protecting victims, but in collecting evidence that can be used to prosecute traffickers.  I am happy to see that Cristina Posa from the U.S. Department of Justice is with us today to speak about the U.S. experience on combating human trafficking.  We also must unravel and stop the global networks that ultimately profit from this evil industry.

I hope this round-table leaves everyone energized and motivated to continue working on this issue of great importance.

Thank you again for coming.