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Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - H.R. 2830, Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011


Location: Washington, DC

As many here know, every year hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked around the world, most of them women and girls. Millions more are trapped within their own countries, forced to work in dangerous labor and sexual servitude.

This form of modern-day slavery is an affront to human dignity, as well as a major source of revenue for international criminal syndicates. This scourge is not limited to a particular geographic region, or only to developing countries. Ultimately, the tragedy of human trafficking lies not in statistics, but in the individual lives, hopes, and dreams that are being crushed for a particular person, in a particular place, today.

I am proud of the bipartisan, leading role that the House and this Committee have played in moving the fight against human trafficking from a "non-issue" to a priority of the United States Government. I especially want to commend the leadership of my good friend from New Jersey, Mr. Smith, the author of the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which became law eleven years ago this month, who is the author of the bill before us today.

I also want to recognize the longstanding efforts of the Ranking Member, Mr. Berman, with whom we worked on the last enacted reauthorization bill, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which he introduced in 2008.

We can take some solace in the fact that these efforts have dramatically raised the international profile of this slavery, and have prompted a number of countries to pass their own anti-trafficking statutes. There has also been a rise in the number of international prosecutions for trafficking -- over 6,000 last year, leading to over 3,600 convictions.

But so much more remains to be done. Trafficking arrests vastly outnumber prosecutions and convictions. And 22 countries have earned the dubious distinction of the worst, Tier III status in the State Department's annual rankings -- an increase of 10 countries since the last report. This means that those countries, which include perennial rogues such as Iran, Cuba, and North Korea, are not trying to meet even the most basic anti-trafficking standards.

For all of those reasons, this bill -- which continues and strengthens our anti-trafficking activities in a fiscally responsible manner -- is vitally important.

I want to thank Mr. Smith, Mr. Berman, and all of those involved with this bipartisan effort. I support Mr. Smith's amendment in the nature of a substitute, and remain committed to moving H.R. 2830 forward.

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