An official website of the United States government

January 10, 2024

Remarks by Chargé d'Affaires Matthew Bunt at the TIP round table

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – Today, the U.S Embassy Port Moresby hosted a round table discussion with government officials, civil society organizations, religious leaders, and representatives from the private sector, to define and discuss human trafficking (also known as trafficking in persons, or TIP). The dialog highlighted strategies to address TIP, which is considered modern-day slavery, and protect the victims. Chargé d’Affaires Matthew Bunt gave opening remarks to the diverse group of stakeholders to demonstrate the United States’ firm commitment to preventing this crime, protecting the victims, and prosecuting those responsible. Participants had the opportunity to share their experiences and voice their opinions so that U.S. Embassy staff could gain a broader understanding of the cultural context in PNG and seek way to partner with government and non-profit groups. Deputy Political and Economic Counselor Kevin Furey and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Country Representative Nino Nadiradze provided background information about embassy efforts to combat human trafficking in PNG and around the world. USAID also introduced the group to the five-year partnership with the Asia Foundation to implement the Pacific Regional Initiative and Support for More Effective Counter Trafficking in Persons (Pacific RISE-CTIP Program). Chargé d’Affaires Bunt gave remarks to the media in a press conference following the round table.



Remarks to the press as written:


Every year the State Department releases the Trafficking in Persons Report. This report provides a comprehensive, objective assessment of 188 countries and territories – including the United States.  Its purpose is to showcase successful efforts to prevent trafficking, to identify areas where countries are falling short and have more work to do, and ultimately – ultimately – to eliminate trafficking altogether.


The United States is committed to combatting human trafficking because trafficking represents an attack on human rights and freedoms. It violates the universal right of every person to have autonomy over their own life and actions. Today, more than 25 million people around the world are denied dignity, denied safety, and denied liberty due to trafficking.


What is human trafficking?  Human Trafficking is a crime in which a person is compelled to perform labor, services, or commercial sex with the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking is distinct from human smuggling, which is illegally bringing people across borders.


The impact of trafficking on a community is devastating. It weakens the rule of law, corrupts supply chains, exploits workers, and fuels violence. It disproportionately impacts traditionally marginalized groups: women, LGBTQI+ individuals, persons with disabilities, and ethnic and religious minorities.


Imagine yourself reading an ad in a newspaper offering you a decent job. The deal looks good, the money is right, and they promise transportation, food, and shelter. So you leave everything behind and make the journey seeking a better life for yourself and for your family. But once there you find that this was a scam and you are now a prisoner. You have no escape and you have no way to communicate with the outside world. That’s a horrifying thought and I shudder just thinking about this happening to me, my children, or anyone.


This isn’t an issue just for the United States. It’s an issue for all people. Today we held a round table discussion with brave leaders in government, civil society, religious groups, and the private sector, to learn how together we can defeat this scourge and build partnerships to end trafficking in persons. Partnerships are also critical because they allow us to harness the diverse expertise of different organizations to tackle trafficking in novel ways.


One of those partnerships is the United States Agency for International Development five-year partnership with the Asia Foundation to implement the Pacific Regional Initiative and Support for More Effective Counter Trafficking in Persons, or Pacific RISE-CTIP Program for short.


This program is active in Papua New Guinea, Palau, Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tonga and aims to combat trafficking in persons in the Pacific Islands Region by strengthening prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership mechanisms.


So on the day leading up National Human Trafficking Awareness Day which is marked around the world on January 11 I want to share a quote by Martin Luther King Junior, who once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”


Let’s not keep silent. Let’s speak out together and end Human Trafficking. I’m happy to take questions.


Chargé d’Affaires  Matthew Bunt