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Public Statements

Issue Position: Human Rights

Issue Position

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Smith Works to Protect Human Rights for All

Protecting universal human rights for all has been central to my work in Congress.

Whether it be protecting pro-democracy advocates from harassment and detention, women from being kidnapped and forced into prostitution or ensuring that everyone can practice their faith free of persecution--I believe that a public servant's greatest responsibility is to protect those who cannot defend themselves.

This has been the motivating factor that led me to author numerous human rights laws and resolutions that--among other things--provide relief to torture victims, call for sanctions against human rights abusers, enhance human rights reporting and demand the immediate release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

Among one of the worst human rights violations is the heinous crime of human trafficking, where victims--mostly women and children--are sold into sexual servitude and forced labor. In an effort to address this issue, I authored the nation's first law to address human trafficking, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (P.L. 106-386). The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and its subsequent reauthorizations form the crux of the federal government's efforts to aggressively prosecute sex traffickers and to help trafficking victims rebuild their lives.

During my tenure as chairman of House human rights subcommittees and the Helsinki Commission, I convened over 300 Congressional hearings documenting and addressing human rights abuses in China, Ethiopia, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Cuba and numerous other hot spots around the globe. I am committed to continuing to use my seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (formerly named the House International Relations Committee) and my Ranking Member positions on the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, the U.S. Helsinki Commission and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China to promote policies that put the US on the side of the oppressed, not the oppressors.


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