Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

At the summer meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) on Friday, Attorney General McKenna launched a nationwide initiative in the fight against human trafficking. Trafficking occurs when one person forces another into prostitution or labor against that person’s will—and it’s a growing problem in the U.S. and around the world. When McKenna was elected President of NAAG for 2011-12, he decided to dedicate his presidential initiative to combating the problem. In a speech at the announcement, he emphasized the importance of acknowledging the problem:

“Human trafficking is a $32 billion global industry driven by trafficking profit. It’s the fastest growing and second largest criminal activity in the world, tied with arms and after drug dealing.  Yet for many this heinous crime lurks in the shadows. It’s time to bring it out into the light, to bring hope and resources to victims and to bring justice to traffickers and those who buy victims from them.” 


An article in the Seattle Times had more:

"The problem of trafficking is real. It is around us,” said McKenna. “It is aptly referred to as modern day slavery--the selling of another person's body through the use of force, fear or coercion."

McKenna's initiative will focus on coordinating data collection, prosecutions of traffickers and buyers, and mobilizing communities to provide support to victims. He also said the initiative would mean altering how prosecutors take on the issue.

This isn’t the first time McKenna has taken on human trafficking. In 2008, he helped lead 42 other attorneys general in reaching an agreement with Craigslist to crack down on illegal listings, in an effort to reduce crimes like distributing child pornography and human trafficking.

And in 2010, he helped create a partnership to aid the victims of human trafficking:

Seattle Against Slavery (SAS), Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and other non-profit and governmental partners announced a unique new multi-language poster campaign empowering victims of human trafficking to self-identify and access help.

For the past seven months, volunteers and professional staff from SAS,  the Attorney General’s Office, Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN),  the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the Seattle Police Department and the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking (WashACT) have worked to develop a comprehensive poster campaign with simple messages to connect with victims of human trafficking. The messages have been translated into Vietnamese, Russian, English, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.

The presidential initiative lasts a year, and will culminate with a Presidential Summit in Seattle next summer.

-Patrick Paterson-