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Public Statements

Applauding President Obama's Enhanced Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend President Barack Obama's address at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. During his address, President Obama announced that the Administration would redouble its efforts to combat human trafficking at home and abroad. The administration's new initiatives will strengthen the existing zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking in government contracting, will provide tools and training for federal officials to identify and assist trafficking victims, and will expand services and legal assistance to victims.

Human trafficking continues to be an urgent and dire concern. There are an estimated 20 million men, women and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor, domestic servitude, and child soldiering. These practices, besides being an unconscionable attack on the world's most vulnerable, affect all of us on a daily basis. It fuels organized crime, damages public health, and taints our businesses' supply chains. However, President Obama's efforts will undoubtedly improve American leadership on this issue and bring new opportunities to aid victims around the world.

As a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, I have also worked hard to make this a congressional priority. My constituency includes approximately 50,000 Cambodians, most of whom resettled after fleeing
their native land during the murderous reign of Khmer Rouge. Cambodia, according to the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking is one of the leading sources and destinations of trafficking in persons. Many of these victims are the friends and relatives of my constituents. They want very much to see their loved ones protected, and so do I.

I have strongly advocated each year for enhanced funding to combat human trafficking, and I have spoken on the subject to the European Union Inter-Parliamentary Assembly as a part of the House Helsinki Commission. In the 111th Congress, I also introduced House Resolution 929, which recognizes December 2 as ``International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.'' This resolution encourages member states of the United Nations to intensify their efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery, and it urges Americans to help raise awareness of the prevalence of this human rights abuse. I introduced a similar resolution in the 112th Congress supporting the goals and ideals of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

I am proud to report that House Resolution 929 was endorsed by the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, Safe Horizon, Freedom Network, Humanity United, Coalition to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery in Asia, Boat People SOS, and the Polaris Project blog. These modern day abolitionists are the true heroes, fighting on the frontlines to protect trafficking victims and serving as models of the compassion and leadership we should all strive to display every day.

Mr. Speaker, this month marked the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that all slaves residing in the states in rebellion against the Union would forever be free. President Lincoln's bold move changed our nation for the better and is a defining moment in American history when we fully committed ourselves to protecting the liberty of every man, woman, and child.

We must remain aware that the struggle continues and even hides within the borders of the United States. Human trafficking remains one of the gravest injustices of our time as it continues to rob millions of people of basic self-determination and dignity. Yet our government is making significant progress. I firmly believe that, through American leadership and global cooperation, we can bring the goal of eradication within reach.

Mr. Speaker, I thank President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for their steadfast support for anti-human trafficking initiatives, and I reaffirm my own dedication to combating all forms of modern slavery and upholding the American promise of freedom.


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