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July 30, 2021

CDA Kneedler Remarks at the Virtual Commemoration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

CDA Kneedler Remarks for
Ministry of Labor and Social Protection
Virtual Commemoration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

July 30, 2021

Good morning.  I’m pleased to join you today for this important event to commemorate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.  Thank you to Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, and the Counter Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee for organizing this event.

Eradicating trafficking is an issue that President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and all of us at U.S. Embassy Nairobi care about deeply.  I am grateful for the continued efforts of the Government of Kenya to confront this heinous crime, which continues to affect millions of people around the world.

Human trafficking is a scourge and an affront to human dignity.  Today’s event demonstrates the importance and urgency of the fight to end it.  I am honored to be a part of today’s proceedings and wholeheartedly support the work of the Kenyan government and civil society to eradicate human trafficking in Kenya and beyond. 

As we commemorate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, I hope we will all take this opportunity to redouble our commitment to work together to find solutions that will protect the vulnerable, expose those who perpetrate these crimes, and create a safer, more just world.  

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated our efforts to eliminate trafficking.  It has disrupted the way we interact with each other, strained public resources, and inflicted great economic harm, especially on society’s most vulnerable.  In many ways, the pandemic has placed these individuals at greater risk of exploitation by delaying access to justice and support services.  

However, we cannot let COVID-19 slow down our efforts.  Just as the United States and Kenya are working together to fight COVID-19, we must leverage each other’s strengths to continue the fight against trafficking.  This is our obligation as friends and partners.  

As you all know, human trafficking is not an issue that governments can address alone or in a vacuum.  We must recognize the talents, resources, and ingenuity that exist within civil society.  Partnering with NGOs, religious organizations, and other community groups is essential to our joint efforts to raise awareness, prevent these crimes from occurring, and support survivors and their families.  We are all stakeholders in this fight.   

As an example of our enduring commitment to Kenya’s most vulnerable, over the past year the United States has awarded over five million dollars to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery for new programs in Kenya.  Among other things, this funding will help build capacity within the justice sector to investigate and prosecute commercial sexual exploitation of children, as well as improve access to justice for victims.  Programs will also encourage the reintegration of trafficking survivors into society; increase public awareness of trafficking risks; promote ethical recruitment of migrant workers; hold recruitment agencies accountable for their practices; and strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to respond to community needs.  

I am confident that these and other programs will be effective in reducing the risk of trafficking and improving the conditions for survivors.  At the same, however, I recognize that this battle requires a long-term commitment.  As Secretary of State Blinken recently noted, so long as human trafficking exists, fighting it must be an effort of continuous improvement.  

I am grateful to all participants in today’s meeting, and I extend my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection for its leadership and commitment.  Thank you to each of you for your courage and contributions to ending modern slavery.  We are all in this together, and together is how we will ensure freedom and dignity prevail.  Thank you.