US National Association of Attorney Generals Meeting in Minneapolis

Speech from Kevin Hyland, the Santa Marta Group Strategic Director:

Thank you to the AGA and Karen White for inviting me and for the warm welcome I have received here in Minnesota. It is an honour to be with you today amongst leaders in justice, law, and business.

I would also like to thank Karl Racine, Abby Wilhelm, Yasmin Waljee, and Miguel Zaldivar of Hogan Lovells for their ongoing commitment to end human trafficking and their partnership with the Santa Marta Group. My work with Hogan Lovells goes back 14 years to when Yasmin and I worked together in London to improve compensation and reparation for victims of trafficking.

At a time when bipartisanship and unanimity are more challenging than ever, Attorneys General are leading the way. That’s why I want to share with you an exciting new global development to combat human trafficking and invite you to be a part of it.

As Karl mentioned, my name is Kevin and I serve as Chief Advisor to the Santa Marta Group. The Santa Marta Group was launched at the Vatican by Pope Francis in 2014. Our goal was to create a unique partnership between actors in criminal justice, faith groups, government and civil society leaders. This partnership is built on the idea that in order to stop human trafficking, we need a new approach…one that recognises this as a serious crime.

Many reasons heighten the potential behind human trafficking, and of course, those need to be addressed. However, human trafficking is never inevitable. It can only occur as a deliberate act or wilful negligence by an individual, an organised crime group, a business or a corporation and is always a serious crime.

Despite global estimates of over 49 million victims and criminal profits of over US$150 billion annually, disincentives to commit these crimes are negligible. The incentive, however, is enormous. The potential to have a share in the US$150 billion criminal assets comes with impunity or in some geographic areas with immunity.

Those who commit these crimes must feel reassured knowing that 99.98 per cent of crimes remain undetected, and only one in every 8,700 victims worldwide will see justice. Making this an almost perfect crime.

So, what can bring change?...... Making this a crime that doesn’t pay?

Santa Marta has six priority pillars:

Government procurement must not end up funding criminal traffickers. This is something governments can control through vigilance, monitoring and good contracts. Those who use forced labour or human trafficking should never benefit from taxpayer money; political party manifestos always include crime prevention, not funding it. And likewise, businesses must prevent their transactions and trade from benefitting those who commit crimes of human trafficking and modern slavery. Many businesses respect crime prevention and the safety of their employees in their business model. Let's ensure all big businesses follow suit; if necessary, this should be done by law.

Tainted money: we need to target this crime's profits and benefits to remove the incentive. A concept of tainted money, beyond that of proceeds of crime, will significantly impact prevention. If you make money from human trafficking or modern slavery, even unwittingly, there needs to be a notion that you lose it. This would not only capture business profit but also, by example, landlords where sex trafficking occurs and many others who make a profit, all too often through wilful blindness. But to increase awareness and due diligence, shifting the responsibility to prevent trafficking to those who potentially benefit from it will be a game changer.

The internet and transactions on the virtual highway must be regulated, just like any normal highway. If paedophiles, traffickers, fraudsters or any other serious criminal peddled their wares on the streets, shops and highways of the US, they would be pursued and brought to justice. A shift in the governance of the internet and the cyber world is needed beyond the bounds of criminal justice. Technology, digital, and social media companies have the technology and ability to do far more in prevention. The safety of our children, communities and national and international security depend on them taking more deliberative action.

We must view human trafficking and modern slavery in the context of other serious crimes and global threats. This crime destabilises economies, national security and the safety of communities. Of course, victim identification and support are crucial, but these crimes have a much wider negative impact. For example, human trafficking is used to fund terrorist groups. Traffickers recruit child soldiers to fight illegal battles in contradiction to our respect for democracy and the values it brings. Trafficking for human organs is increasing. Illegal surgical operations that will result in the death of donor and recipient have been highlighted by national medical experts. The shocking criminal sale of human organs attracts many millions every year as premium charges are on the up. So, viewing this crime like other international crimes is crucial.

National Intelligence and, for example, the Five Eyes and other international intelligence gathering bodies have a role in fighting this crime. For example, in peacekeeping and conflict pre-deployment training, the US and British Army introduced the identification of human trafficking. It has also been introduced into smaller military nations' curricula, like the Irish Defence Forces. Sanctions and wider introduction of measures like the US Customs and Border Protection withhold release orders and the introduction of a list of rogue traders will send a clear message: human trafficking must be prevented. And red flags on finance, and for example, new styles of red flags such as airlines making compulsory notifications of multiple one-way flights for women and girls using the same IP address or payment card, have previously proven to be incredibly useful.

Importantly, point six is moral leadership, something we must all strive to do. We must be courageous to face change, recognise systems are not working and collectively nurture and, where necessary, require change to become the norm.

Now, I recognize that these are large and complex challenges. You may be asking—how are you going to make this happen?

This is where you come in.

To deliver on these goals Santa Marta Group is launching a new partnership with the G20 Interfaith Forum called “30-by-30”. The goal is for members countries to collectively invest US$30 billion annually in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery by 2030. This might sound like an incredible sum, but it is just a fraction of US$150 billion profit that criminals make off human trafficking annually. We must give statutory bodies the funds they need to work better in prevention, detection, robust intelligence gathering, and deploying against evil traffickers. The G20 Interfaith Forum and Santa Marta Group believe that the G20, representing 80 per cent of the world GDP and 66 per cent of the world population, is the right platform to bring global change. While the world's leaders have included human trafficking or business transparency in their G20 declaration since 2018, now is the time to deliver. Move words into action.

The time is overdue for change; a quarter of a century in failing to stem this crime is long enough to recognise we need different tools, systems and approaches. This crime, unlike others, has many opportunities for prevention and intervention during preparatory acts, such as conspiracy, racketeering, RICO-type offences or aiding and abetting. However, it is crucial to disincentivise these crimes by removing all the financial benefits and placing fear into the mere thought of committing human trafficking or modern slavery. This must become a priority for businesses, governments, communities and the criminal justice sector so future generations are not left with a legacy of failure to respond effectively to trading in human exploitation.

Actions, not merely words, are needed. But it will take great leadership, proper investment, and political will.

The Santa Marta Group knows that leaders like you are going to be the key to seeing meaningful change.

That is why, the Santa Marta Group, on behalf of His Holiness and in coordination with AGA, will be organising a strategic planning meeting at the Vatican in Rome and would like to invite state Attorneys General to participate. We want to bring the best of the world’s chief law enforcement officers together to turn the tide on this crime.

Without US involvement and its leaders in justice, suppressing human trafficking and modern slavery will only be a pipe dream. We collectively have the privilege of service so that this vilest of crimes is finally cast into history for generations to come, and the paradigm changes;

‘From a crime that is a profitable enterprise – to one you fear to commit.’

I look forward to seeing many of you again at the Vatican and look forward to all we will accomplish together.