Good morning everyone. It is an honor for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to co-sponsor such an important event with Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission and the non-governmental organization Colectivo Contra la Trata de Personas to bring attention to the heinous crime of human trafficking and to highlight the differences between it and voluntary sex work[LFG(C1] . The U.S. Government has made both combatting trafficking in persons and Mexico’s transition to an accusatorial system key priorities for bilateral collaboration, and we are confident this forum will aid specialized investigators and prosecutors to better fulfill their duties to trafficking victims and the Mexican legal system.
The Embassy, through the Department of Justice’s Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training, or OPDAT, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, currently partners with the state governments of the DF, Mexico State, Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Quintana Roo on capacity building in the fight against trafficking in persons. We are particularly pleased today to welcome officials from Tlaxcala, Chiapas, DF, and Edomex[LFG(C2] to this forum. The Colectivo is a long-standing partner of ours, assisting us in training around the country for those working to stamp out the crime of human trafficking. I’d also like to thank Lynly Egyes, Liz Afton, and Jessica Peñaranda from the Urban Justice Center, Lynda Stott from the Milwaukee Police Department, and Hillary Axam, Benjamin Hawk and Theresa Segovia from DOJ for being here and contributing to our bilateral work against trafficking. Today’s forum is a great example of the U.S. and Mexico’s joint efforts, and promises to propel our collaboration forward as we delve into more specialized topics together.
The focus of the next two days is human trafficking, but more precisely, how you can identify the real victims of trafficking from those voluntarily participating in the sex trade. Conflating victims with voluntary sex workers is still a challenge for the United States: many court systems consider trafficking victims as willing participants or seek to treat all sex workers as victims.. There is no simple fix; however, proactive investigations that involve collaboration between law enforcement, NGOs, and the community have successfully targeted the traffickers and protected the human rights of victims as well as voluntary sex workers.