President Barack Obama will make his first major speech on human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York Tuesday just hours after vowing to prevent Iran for obtaining a nuclear weapon at the U.N. General Assembly.
The address will include a major announcement on the battle to end modern slavery and human trafficking and is taking place on the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order he issued during the Civil War proclaiming the freedom of slaves in 10 states, according to a release by the International Justice Mission, a human rights group specializing in fighting human trafficking worldwide.
Some human rights advocates have criticized Mr. Obama’s efforts to control human trafficking. Just last week, Mr. Obama gave seven countries listed by the State Department as doing little to control human trafficking — including Libya and Saudi Arabia — a pass on government-mandated sanctions and a loss of foreign aid, citing national security concerns.
The president said it was in the “national interest” not to punish seven countries ranked by the State Department as among the worst when it comes to combating human trafficking and gave waivers to six other countries.
The move earned a sharp rebuke from Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and an ardent human rights advocate, who called Mr. Obama’s actions both “unconscionable and indefensible.”