State Dept. Issues Report on Trafficking of Women, Children, Laborers
Congressman Chris Smith said a report released today by the U.S. State Department on the human trafficking of women, children and laborers around the world shows some improvements over the 2008 report, but also demonstrates there is much more work to do.
"This is the ninth Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), and it contains grim reminders of the deep-rooted nature of human trafficking around the world," said Smith, the author of the Trafficking Victims and Protection Act of 2000, the law which mandated the annual reports. "Nonetheless, America's leading role in combating modern day slavery is making a difference here and around the world and gives hope to those whose lives have been shattered by crimes of unspeakable abuse.
"Women and children are the primary victims of sex trafficking, and also comprise 56 percent of trafficking for forced labor," said Smith, who fears that deteriorated economic conditions will make human trafficking worse." This year's report highlights how the current world economic situation has made even more people vulnerable and led to increased trafficking around the world.
"The exploitation exists in nearly every nation on earth, including here in the United States," Smith said. "These victims, who are fraudulently lured from their homes and families in search of a job and a better life, are often battered, tortured, abused and become trapped in prostitution or forced labor. Many cases involve young girls and boys. Held against their wills in a foreign land with no one to turn to, and often unable to speak the language, these victims have no way out. It is a scourge on the world community. Twenty-six countries last year alone enacted new legislation or amended legislation to combat trafficking, and prosecutions have increased in East Asian and Pacific countries, and Central and South America. Nonetheless, prosecutions have stalled in other parts of the world.
"The TIP report shines light on this shadowy web of global abuse that ensnares the innocent and robs them of their human dignity," said Smith. "It makes numerous recommendations for action and monitors progress. The report focuses on a strategy of what is dubbed the three Ps' prosecution, protection and prevention. But it also tries to address the human element with victim-oriented emphasis of the three Rs'rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration."
In addition to the original 2000 law which provided for the annual reports, Smith wrote two subsequent anti-trafficking laws (PL 108-193 and PL 109-164) increasing resources for crime prevention and expanding treatment assistance for victims.
A senior member of the House International Relations Committee, Smith said the report critiques 175 countries this year and comprehensively details the progress or lack of progress that countries have made in combating trafficking.
Smith pointed to the number of convictions to underscore the impact of the law. The report shows that after Smith pushed through his second law, The Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2003, the department was required to collect data on convictions as part of the analysis. It shows that there have been over 19,700 convictions worldwide and over 100 countries now have anti-trafficking laws patterned after Smith's lawwhere they previously had little or no protections.
"Convictions are a critical key to stemming the tide of these worldwide crimes against innocents," Smith said. "The perpetrators must be punished for their heinous acts."
Smith said the report indicates global, ongoing international efforts to address human trafficking. Prosecutions and convictions varied from region to region, but the report noted two dozen additional anti-trafficking laws around the world.
U.S. efforts to combat trafficking are listed on page 57 of the report. The U.S. Justice Department is releasing its own report on U.S. domestic efforts this week.
Provisions of Smith's groundbreaking law are laid out on pages 314-315 of the report. Please click here to view the full 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report.