In presenting the report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized that the problem of trafficking is one that is found much closer to home than many people realize.
"Human trafficking is a global problem, but it's a local one too," he said June 28. "Human trafficking can be found in a favorite restaurant, a hotel, downtown, a farm, or in their neighbor's home."
The fight against human trafficking has been a priority for Pope Francis. In December 2013, he told a group of ambassadors that the issue worries him greatly, saying "it is a disgrace" that persons "are treated as objects, deceived, assaulted, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally harmed, ending up discarded and abandoned."
In March 2014, Pope Francis signed an ecumenical agreement with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, by which the Church and the Anglican Communion agreed to support an anti-slavery, anti-human trafficking initiative, the Global Freedom Network.
The following year, the pope focused on the theme in his World Day of Peace message. He appealed to "all men and women of good will" and to "the highest levels of civil institutions" who witness "the scourge of contemporary slavery." He urged them "not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity."
At a June 2016 summit, the Pope emphasized the importance of listening to victims of trafficking.
He reiterated that message earlier this year, telling young people that they are in "a privileged place to encounter the survivors of human trafficking."
"Go to your parishes, to an association close to home, meet them, listen to them," he said.
The Vatican has organized numerous conferences on human trafficking, focused on both raising awareness and discussing means of fighting modern-day slavery and helping victims reintegrate into society.