Legislation introduced Wednesday by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) will reauthorize the historic Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which enhanced the government's efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States and abroad. The law is set to expire this year.
The bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) will extend the authorization of the current law until 2015, and improve cooperation among federal agencies providing victim services. The legislation will also give law enforcement additional tools and resources to investigate human trafficking crimes, and further the victim-centered approach that has been crucial to combating human trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was first introduced in 2000 by the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and former Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan).
"Trafficking is an affront to human dignity that we cannot ignore. The United States offers a beacon of hope to so many who face human rights abuses abroad. We cannot sit back idly while this injustice continues -- not only elsewhere in the world, but also here at home," said Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Thanks to the tools provided by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, we have made progress in combating these reprehensible human rights abuses, but there is more work to be done. I look forward to working with Senator Brown and Senator Kerry to continue the bipartisan work started by Senators Wellstone and Brownback more than a decade ago."
"As a father of two daughters and an advocate at the state and federal level for tougher laws to crack down on this horrific practice, I believe we must do everything we can to eliminate human or sex trafficking," said Brown. "This bill increases criminal penalties against trafficking and enhances services for victims, and does so in a fiscally responsible and bipartisan manner. Our legislation is a strong step toward ending the abhorrent practice of human trafficking."
"Like many other countries, the United States confronts the crime of trafficking in people across its borders and internally. As a result, I'm pleased to join this bipartisan group in sponsoring legislation aimed at strengthening enforcement at home and abroad. We should all do everything in our power to stop this abuse of human rights," said Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Since its enactment in 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act has helped law enforcement and victim service providers receive essential federal resources to help victims, prosecute traffickers and prevent future criminal activity. The TVPRA will promote increased cooperation among federal agencies, between the U.S. and other countries, and between federal, state and local law enforcement. The bill seeks to cut off human trafficking at its roots by supporting international efforts to address the sources of trafficking. In lean budget times, the bill also promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes, and focuses federal authorizations on the programs that have been most successful under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was first signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, and received overwhelming support in Congress. The landmark bill was reauthorized three times during the Bush administration, each time with unanimous support in Congress.