Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a strategic partnership between the Department’s Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) and international non-governmental organization (NGO) Liberty Shared to enhance the Department’s ability to investigate forced labor in the supply chain.
“Partnerships are essential in the fight to bring traffickers to justice and put victims on the path to recovery,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “As we mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons this week, we recognize the need to use every resource possible to further our Department-wide mission of ending the heinous crime of human trafficking.
The partnership with Liberty Shared, formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed this week, will enable CCHT to further streamline intelligence, initiate new criminal investigations, and advance ongoing investigations to hold corporations and individual perpetrators accountable.
Liberty Shared has been an important partner to the Department, and the Memorandum of Understanding announced today will deepen that partnership to further enhance the Department’s ability to combat human trafficking. Liberty Shared will provide CCHT and HSI with critical documentary evidence to support allegations that forced labor is occurring at manufacturing facilities in countries of interest. This strategic collaboration will also be instrumental in arranging critical interviews with victims identified in ongoing criminal cases.
“By leveraging all available authorities, resources, and expertise at our disposal, we can put a stop to forced labor and take down organizations that continue to profit from it,” said Cardell Morant, CCHT Director. “Human trafficking crimes not only inflict severe physical and psychological trauma on those subjected to exploitation and abuse, they also perpetuate related illicit conduct including smuggling, document fraud, racketeering, and financial crimes.”
Globally, forced labor is estimated to be the predominant form of human trafficking. Human trafficking victimizes an estimated 25 million people around the world, of whom 80% are victims of forced labor and 20% are victims of sex trafficking.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Countering Human Trafficking makes criminal justice enforcement against perpetrators benefitting from forced labor a reality,” said Duncan Jepson, Managing Director of Liberty Shared. “Cases are being opened and eventually we hope there will be prosecutions. Liberty Shared is pleased to enter this memorandum of understanding with the Center to support their work of improving law enforcement outcomes and increasing the potential of interagency coordination across the U.S. government and its partners.”
Partnerships with NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) are essential for the Department, including Customs and Border Protection and CCHT, to identify corporations using forced labor in their supply chains, advance counter-human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts, including the first-ever supply chain criminal investigations made possible by this new partnership. NGOs and CSOs augment CCHT’s work through their keen awareness of where crimes are taking place. This unique ability to connect with forced labor victims to gather preliminary information has played a critical role in supporting DHS’s criminal investigations of forced labor currently underway around the globe.