Smith Relentless in Fight Against Trafficking
For the second time in just over a week, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) convened a hearing on U.S. and global efforts to combat human trafficking. Smith, Chairman of House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, teamed with Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), Chairman of House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, in a rare joint hearing to examine trafficking of women in areas where U.S. military is stationed.
"Our need to examine this problem of human trafficking in the context of the Department of Defense (DOD) arises from the fact that prostitution has historically coexisted alongside large populations of military forces. This is a problem for all militariesnot just the American military. In recent years, NGOs and the press have reported women being forced into prostitution for a clientele consisting of military service members, government contracts, and international peacekeepers," Smith stated.
Smith, the author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and the TVPA Reauthorizations Acts of 2003 and 2005 said that his focus on the U.S. military began in 2002 upon learning of an investigation of U.S. troops in South Korea patronizing bars and other establishments where women from the Philippines and the former Soviet states were trafficked and forced to prostitute themselves. Rep. Smith requested the DOD Inspector General to undertake investigations in South Korea and in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. "The two resulting reports identified institutional weaknesses in our military's understanding and response to trafficking and made concrete recommendations for action," said Smith.
"Over the past half-dozen years, such evils have been documented in South Korea, southeastern Europe, the Congo, and Sudan. There have also been horrific accounts of international peacekeepers from several countries, thankfully not including the United States, who have purchased sex from hungry children in exchange for a piece of bread."
"It is reprehensible that any person with a responsibility to protect civilians in a destabilized region or to promote the rule of law would participate in prostitution or otherwise encourage human trafficking," said Smith.
Smith, has also recently convened multiple hearings on human trafficking in connection to the soccer World Cup currently being held in Germany. Smith has most recently introduced H. Res. 860 calling on the German government to take all necessary measures to combat human trafficking in connection to the World Cup.
Testimony was given at the hearing by The Honorable John Miller, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, U.S. Department of State; Colonel Robert Boyles, Former Principal Assistant, Joint Contracting Command in Iraq and Afghanistan, Department of Defense; Mrs. Gail McGinn, Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense; and Mr. Thomas Gimble, Principal Deputy Inspector General, Department of Defense.