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EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

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Regional Conference on Trafficking in Children and Child Pornography on the Internet takes place in Montevideo

(September 23 - 24)

September 23, 2004


  [U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi]
Mr. Oliver Griffith, representing the U.S. Embassy, Dr. Alejandro Bonasso, director of the Inter-American Children's Institute, Mr. James G. Williard, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy, and Dr. Ariel Gustavo Forselledo, from the IIN, during the opening ceremonies today in Montevideo.
 
A regional project aimed at investigating and gathering information on Child Pornography on the Internet and Trafficking in Children wraps up today with a two-day conference in Montevideo. Four MERCOSUR countries, as well as Bolivia and Chile, participated in the project.

The conference was organized by the Inter-American Children's Institute (IIN), a specialized branch of the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Embassy of the United States of America in Uruguay. Representatives from Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile are attending the conference and reporting their findings from investigations they carried out in their countries between April and August of this year regarding the problem of trafficking in children and child pornography on the Internet.

The representatives will be submitting proposals for the development of legislative framework that will be compatible in all of the participating countries. The investigation reports are the result of work that has been carried out using knowledge and skills the representatives acquired during a series of training workshops conducted by the Cyber Crime Section of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security back in March. At that time, the Uruguayan investigative teams received a donation of computer equipment, and other countries received similar equipment on loan in order to carry out their research. After the conference, additional computer equipment will be donated by the U.S. Embassy to the Inter-American Children's Institute.

The fight against human trafficking and child pornography is a matter of extreme priority for the U.S. Government and the Inter-American Children's Institute.

For more information on the project, please visit www.iintpi.net

[U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi][U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi]
James G. Williard, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy and Dr. Alejandro Bonasso, Director of the
Inter-American Children's Institute address the conference during the opening ceremonies


Opening remarks by James G. Williard, U.S. Embassy's Chief of Mission:

 
Good morning and welcome. In the name of Ambassador Silverstein and Secretary of State Powell, I am very pleased to welcome you to this seminar, sponsored by US Embassy Montevideo and so ably organized by Dr. Forselledo and the Inter-American Institute of the Child. We are very impressed with the efforts that you have made as officials on the front lines of your countries to carry out the investigations and gather the data that you are presenting here today. The work that you have done is a vital contribution to combating trafficking in persons.

As you are aware, the State Department estimates that 800,000 to 900,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders around the world every year, with an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 arriving in the United States alone. And these statistics do not include trafficking within a country's borders. The largest and fastest growing form of trafficking in persons is for prostitution, followed by forced labor, domestic servitude and forced recruitment of children as soldiers. We believe that the work that you have done and continued efforts to combat trafficking in persons will serve the important purpose of making an impact on the third biggest source of revenue for organized crime after drugs and arms.

The United States has taken significant action to combat trafficking in persons, including children, and our sponsorship of the project that concludes with this conference is part of a $50 million dollar initiative. We have passed legislation that will assure that the depraved individuals who traffic and sexually abuse children will find no safe haven. In April 2003, the PROTECT Act was signed into law by President Bush. This is a milestone for protecting children, through severely punishing those who victimize them. It allows law enforcement officers to prosecute Americans who travel abroad to abuse minors, without having to prove prior intent. It also makes clear there is no statute of limitations for crimes involving the abduction or physical and sexual abuse of a child. U.S. “sex tourists” are now subject to domestic child abuse and child exploitation laws, and they face up to 30 years imprisonment.

The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 called for an annual global survey on the trade in persons. The most comprehensive international overview of this form of criminal activity, the report examined trafficking activities in 120 countries. It found that more than 100 of the nations surveyed were taking significant strides to tighten their laws and improve their enforcement in order to crack down on trafficking in human beings. We are pleased that all the countries represented here today are among this group and by participating in the project that concludes with this conference, you have all taken one more step towards eliminating human trafficking. We hope that the investigations carried out by each of you and the exchange of ideas and best practices will be a stepping stone to further action to combat this global problem that affects hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. Your efforts in this project place special emphasis on the immediate and permanent protection of children. We hope that you will build on the work you’ve come to share here today and continue to pursue these goals to the greatest extent possible.


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