Ambassador Thomas on Combating Human Trafficking in the Philippines
The evils of human trafficking are something I feel personally. Within this very city and all around the world, there are vulnerable women, men, and even children who are being bought and sold every day by human traffickers to be exploited, often forced into prostitution. This is nothing less than slavery. It is a form of slavery that predominately targets women and girls — an estimated 80 percent of transnational trafficking victims are women and girls. These victims place a powerful call for justice to all of us, and those victims urgently need our help.
The Philippines has responded to this call for justice in many ways – building public awareness to stop the atoledo trafficking persons before it begins, establishing shelters for the victims, and prosecuting the criminals involved. The Supreme Court of the Philippines has helped lead the way. The Court has prioritized and expedited trafficking cases, helping to protect the most vulnerable and strengthening the rule of law by ensuring that these important cases are not lost under the heavy workload that the courts must manage.
The practical, hands-on approach you are taking today helps ensure a harmonized approach by the courts of the Philippines. This case analysis and template refinement will set a clear standard for trial courts and help to provide consistency across the country. Establishing clear expectations will also help prosecutors achieve lawful convictions.
It is common to talk about international best practices in efforts to combat crime; I think your approach today really is a model for other countries around the world to follow. For that, I thank you all.