Moments after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the 2012 Trafficking in Persons report, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for the Senate to take up the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011, which was passed by the Judiciary Committee in October, but has yet to receive a vote on the floor. Senator Coons is a cosponsor of the measure.
The Trafficking in Persons report, which is available on the State Department's website here, http://1.usa.gov/PmFm72, assesses governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery. The 12th annual report, which is mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, includes narratives of 186 countries and territories.
"The United States has been a global leader in the fight against slavery and human trafficking, but is in danger of abdicating that role by failing to reauthorize this bill," Senator Coons said. "The State Department's report makes painfully clear that human trafficking is still a problem that needs to be confronted. Globally, as many as four million people are trafficked each year for sex exploitation, forced labor, or as child soldiers, making trafficking perhaps the biggest global human rights issue in our time. Trafficking generates an estimated $9.6 billion each year for criminal organizations and absolutely must be stopped. Vigilance against human trafficking is essential to our continual pursuit of justice. It is long since time that the Senate takes up and passes the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act."
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act was first passed in 2000 and was reauthorized in 2003 and 2008, but expired at the end of 2011. The bill was approved by the Judiciary Committee in October would extend its provisions until 2015, and:
Amends the RICO Act to include labor contract fraud under its scope to help prosecute forced labor trafficking;
Criminalizes the knowing destruction, concealment, removal, confiscation, or possession of a person's immigration documents;
Increases the statute of limitations to 10 years for those bringing civil actions for injuries caused by forced-labor or sexual criminal actions against minors;
Improves the immigration system created to assist victims of trafficking and their immediate family members, known as "T visas" and "U visas";
Increases accountability of participating programs;
Strengthens and regionalizes global anti-trafficking efforts;
Establishes a fund to assist other countries with urgent needs related to trafficking; and
Improves access to information about human trafficking laws and protections for victims through immigration authorities and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011 was introduced by Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and is cosponsored by 44 senators -- 33 Democrats, nine Republicans and two independents. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Senate.