On August 18, 2020, U.S. Ambassador Hammer launched a new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), three-year, $3 million program to counter trafficking in persons. The International Organization for Migration is managing the program in coordination with the Government of Democratic Republic of Congo‘s (DRC) national program to bring traffickers to justice and protect victims.
Trafficking in persons, also known as modern slavery or human trafficking, includes both sex trafficking and compelled labor. In DRC, trafficked children work in mines, children are recruited as child soldiers and others are forced into labor. Many of the criminal networks for trafficking in persons also traffic illicitly in other sectors, including drugs and arms.
Through the U.S.-DRC Privileged Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, this U.S. investment supports the DRC’s new Anti-trafficking Agency “Agence pour la Prévention et la Lutte contre la Traite de Personnes’ (APLTP). Key areas of cooperation are 1) to develop and implement effective counter-trafficking policies and programs; 2) to collect and disseminate information on human trafficking; and 3) review and strengthen existing legal and medical services for victims of trafficking. The activity also aims to strengthen DRC’s capacity to investigate and prosecute offenders and inform citizens about trafficking in persons.
Today DRC parliamentarians and government officials met to strengthen support and coordination to pass DRC’s first comprehensive legal framework to counter trafficking in persons.
At the launch Ambassador Hammer stated,
“ The best way to prevent trafficking is to hold those responsible for it to account and to end impunity for this heinous crime…. Your efforts will show the world, and most importantly, your own citizens that you will not allow impunity for those that abuse the most vulnerable. By doing so, you will also unlock important new opportunities to increase our development, security, and humanitarian cooperation here in the DRC. “
In 2019 the DRC was on the worst tier of the U.S. State Department’s Global Trafficking in Persons rankings. This year the United States recognized the sustained efforts made by President Tshisekedi’s administration in the last year to address trafficking in persons, moving DRC to Tier 2 watch list. While the DRC has taken steps forward, more work still needs to be done.