President Issues Executive Order Combating Slavery - Requested by 73,000 Petition Signers!
NEW YORK, NY – On September 25, 2012, President Barack Obama gave his first major address on human trafficking, announcing an Executive Order to end trafficking in U.S. government overseas contracts and highlighting IJM as a leader in the anti-trafficking movement. “We are especially honored to be joined today by advocates who dedicate their lives and at times risk their lives to liberate victims and help them recover,” said President Obama, calling IJM an organization whose staff “like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord’s work.”
The Executive Order issued today is especially significant for IJM supporters – because they asked President Obama to take action. In June, IJM and our friends from Passion delivered a letter to the White House signed by more than 73,000 Americans calling upon the President to take four key steps to combat slavery – one of which was instituting a new requirement that “all U.S. government contracts include supply chain transparency requirements.” This Executive Order is an answer to this request. IJM CEO Gary Haugen, who met with President Obama shortly before his speech, shared: “The students, parents and families who signed this letter to the President are eager to see our nation right a terrible wrong: the enslavement of countless men and women recruited by unscrupulous labor contractors to work at U.S. Embassies and military bases overseas. We are thrilled to learn that their voices were heard.”
Kaity Ruhland, a recent graduate of Appalachian State University and one of the 73,000 who signed her name to the petition, also attended the President’s announcement and had the opportunity to meet with him before his speech. “I'm thrilled to be here representing thousands of students who asked President Obama to take steps to combat trafficking,” she said. “It's amazing to see how our voices really matter - he's already taken one of the steps that we requested, and it will literally impact thousands of victims of modern slavery.”
“We are especially honored to be joined today by advocates who dedicate their lives and at times risk their lives to liberate victims and help them recover,” said President Obama, calling International Justice Mission an organization whose staff “like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord’s work.”
When Kaity was introduced to President Obama by Gary Haugen as one of the petition signers who had requested that he take the action he announced today, he responded, “this is the way democracy works.”
And, for IJM advocates, there is still more work to be done. While the Executive Order is very significant, further steps must be taken in order to fully address the issue of modern slavery within U.S. contracting supply chains. A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives has passed legislation similar to the Executive Order; however, the legislation still awaits passage in the Senate. “The Executive Order is strong and binding,” explains Gary Haugen, “but it cannot provide for criminal sanctions for those whose exploitive recruitment practices amount to enslavement. I urge the U.S. Senate to finish the job by passing the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act.”
Support IJM Now
Your gift enables IJM to bring rescue and restoration to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.