The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF)

The annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITFwas held last week on March 15th, 2012.  The internet was buzzing with videos and statements from the meeting, but it got me wondering- what exactly is the PITF?

Remember my blog post, The Impact of Empowered Survivors, in which we learned about the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)?  Well, section 105 of the TVPA law instructs that the “President shall establish an Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking.”

What does Interagency mean?  It means the Task Force will be composed of officials from different departments.

OK, let’s start with the basics…

At the top of the government is The Constitution.

Under the Constitution are three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.  Sound familiar?  Wait, don’t start snoozing!

The executive branch includes the President and the Cabinet.  The President is the Head of the Executive Branch.  And the Cabinet is composed of the Vice President and the Heads of all the Executive Departments.  What are the Executive Departments?

The Departments of:

Health & Human Services
Homeland Security
Housing & Urban Development
Veterans Affairs

OK, so going back to Section 105 of the TVPA, it states that the Interagency Task Force shall include the following members:

The Secretary of State (also designated Chairman of the PITF)
The Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (guided by the Department of State)
The Attorney General (Head of the Department of Justice)
The Secretary of Labor
The Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Director of Central Intelligence (an independent US government agency)
And others “as designated by the President”

Appointed members have changed according to reorganization of government positions/agencies, reauthorizations of the TVPA, and changing agendas.

The TVPA explains the duties of the Task Force as follows (with layman’s terms, as I understand them):

1.  Coordinate the implementation of this division.  (Figure out how to accomplish appointed tasks, and delegate as needed!)  

2.  Measure and evaluate progress of the United States and other countries in the areas of trafficking prevention, protection, and assistance to victims of trafficking, and prosecution and enforcement against traffickers, including the role of public corruption. (Measure and evaluate progress of the US and other countries!)

3.  Expand interagency procedures to collect and organize data, including significant research and resource information on domestic and international trafficking…(Take measures to collect and organize relevant data!)

4.  Engage in efforts to facilitate cooperation among countries of origin, transit, and destination. Such efforts shall aim to strengthen local and regional capacities to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and assist trafficking victims, and shall include initiatives to enhance cooperative efforts between destination countries and countries of origin and assist in the appropriate reintegration of stateless victims of trafficking.  (Work with other countries to prevent trafficking, to prosecute traffickers, and to assist victims!)

5.  Examine the role of the international `sex tourism’ industry in the trafficking of persons and in the sexual exploitation of women and children around the world.  (Investigate the ‘sex tourism’ industry!)

6.  Engage in consultation and advocacy with governmental and nongovernmental organizations, among other entities, to advance the purposes of this division.  (Work with other groups, including NGOs!)

The TVPA also called for the Secretary of State to establish within the Department of State an Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking.  This office is also known as the TIP Office.

The purpose of the TIP Office is to “provide assistance to the Task Force,” and the primary purpose of the Director of the TIP Office is to assist the Secretary of State in “carrying out the purposes of this division…”

The Director of the TIP Office is instructed by the TVPA to consult with other organizations, including NGOs, and with trafficking victims or “other affected persons.”

So, who attended last week’s meeting?

Secretary of State and Chair Hillary Rodham Clinton
Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie B. Jarrett
Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca.
Attorney General Eric Holder
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz
Assitant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough
Director of National Intelligence Lieutenant General James R. Clapper
Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter
Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero
Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Dr. Rajiv Shah
Deputy Director and Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Sean M. Joyce
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Russlynn H. Ali
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien
And many others…

So now that you know what the PITF is, I encourage you to follow their progress!

Watch last week’s meeting of the PITF in the video below!  Or, read the full transcript here.

Also, read the Statement by President Barack Obama on the PITF meeting here.

Continue to educate yourself and to ask questions in order to help Break the Silence that surrounds Human Trafficking!

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