On the 150th anniversary of the date on which US President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation proclamation to abolish chattel slavery in the United States, Ambassador D. Brent Hardt said his country believes partnership is the only way to successfully prevent trafficking in persons and liberate victims.
He was speaking during a cocktail reception at his residence last week to mark the anniversary of the Proclamation.
He noted that on September 22, 1862, during the height of America’s Civil War, President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, affirming that he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863.
“The proclamation made abolition of slavery a central objective of the Civil War and ultimately one of its most enduring and powerful outcomes – affirmed in our Constitution three years later through the 13th Amendment,” he said. “The Civil War that achieved the long deferred promise of freedom from involuntary servitude and slavery remains, to this day, our nation’s bloodiest conflict, resulting in roughly as many American deaths as in all other US wars combined,” he said.
The ambassador said that because freedom is core aspiration of all democracies, all democratic nations face the challenge of ensuring that all their people enjoy liberty. “Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton reminds us that, unfortunately, slavery has not been completely eliminated, but exists in its modern guise of illicit trafficking of persons. The victims of modern day slavery — human trafficking — are citizens of our nations who are denied their liberties and their human dignity…, Hardt said. He called attention to the ongoing need to deliver the promise of freedom to those suffering under the modern-day slavery of trafficking in persons.
At the reception, staff of the US Embassy showed a video developed by the Department of State’s Office to Prevent Trafficking in Persons and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. “The film traces the history of involuntary servitude from the plantations of the antebellum south to the sweatshops and brothels, farms and fishing boats of today, where egregious forms of human exploitations continue,” Hardt said.
“To meet the challenge posed by these criminal actions, countries around the world, including Guyana, have enacted laws and adopted international instruments to end slavery as a legal institution and to eliminate it as a criminal practice,” he said.
“In fact, the United States believes that partnership is the only way to successfully prevent and liberate trafficking victims. That is why our Embassy has been working with the Government of Guyana and civil society organizations here to develop coordinated strategies to address to trafficking in persons and assist trafficking victims,” he said.
“In fact, collaboration, sharing of information and openness to best practices are vital to the success of national and global efforts to combat TIP, as it is a phenomenon that respects no boundaries and requires a coordinated response,” he said.