Smith Calls for Continued Fight Against Trafficking on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, called for a redoubling of U.S. efforts to fight human trafficking worldwide.
“Human trafficking is still a scourge on our societies and we cannot rest until this has been eliminated,” Smith said. “On this day, I want to draw our collective attention to this horrific human rights abuse—and to the tens of millions of victims, mostly women and children, who are suffering each day. We must not forget them as we fight this menace.”
According to the International Labor Organization, 16 million people are exploited in labor trafficking, 4.8 million people are exploited in sex trafficking, and 4 million are exploited in state-imposed trafficking, such as prison labor, forced military service, and forced communal service. Women and girls are especially vulnerable, accounting for 99 percent of trafficking victims in the commercial sex industry and 58 percent in labor trafficking.
Smith has been a leader in the fight against human trafficking in Congress, as the author of four major laws to fight human trafficking—including the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act (P.L. 106-386), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-193), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-164) and the International Megan’s Law (P.L. 114-119).
The TVPA created the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the gold standard used by nations around the world ranking 187 countries and territories on how they have met—or have failed to meet—standards in preventing human trafficking and prosecuting traffickers. Smith’s laws apply both domestically and internationally, establishing long jail sentences and asset confiscation for traffickers and tough sanctions for governments that fail to meet minimum standards in fighting trafficking, harsh punishments for child sex trafficking, and also provide for assistance to trafficking victims such as shelter and asylum.
Also, in July of 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the new bill he has introduced to fight trafficking, the (H.R. 2200) “Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act,” which reauthorizes more than $100 million a year to fight human trafficking.
In addition, Smith has led efforts on the international stage to bring to light the scope of global human trafficking and press countries to more readily identify and prosecute instances of trafficking, and provide help and support to victims.
Smith serves as the Special Representative on combatting human trafficking for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE-PA). He has sponsored 13 successful resolutions at annual sessions of the OSCE-PA, including the first comprehensive resolution on trafficking in 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia. As Special Representative on Trafficking, Rep. Smith writes an annual report on human trafficking.
These resolutions and amendments have influenced and changed policies in the 57 OSCE member states that represent over one billion people around the world, including their impact on the 2013 Addendum to the OSCE Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings and the 2017 OSCE Ministerial Decision on Strengthening Efforts to Combat All Forms of Child Trafficking, Including for Sexual Exploitation.
His most recent comprehensive resolution on “Implementing Trafficking-Free Communities” was adopted at the 2018 assembly in Berlin, attended by more than 300 parliamentarians from 57 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. That resolution drew upon effective best practices developed in the United States and new information showing that implementing multiple best practices simultaneously can significantly reduce trafficking in a community over the course of a year.
Among other things, the resolution called on OSCE member countries to:
· Create joint task forces and simultaneous action by schools, police, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, shelter services, businesses, houses of worship, and media;
· Establish a unified trafficking hotline for use throughout Europe, act to discourage sex tourism;
· Train all employees likely to be in contact with trafficking victims—including in the industries of education, transportation, law enforcement and the judiciary— to recognize and respond appropriately to trafficking victims
“The National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) opened more than 161 cases for trafficking victims in New Jersey in 2017. New Jersey has the 14th highest number of cases in the nation,” Smith said.
“Simultaneous anti-human trafficking action by schools, police, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, shelter services, businesses, houses of worship, and media—including demand reduction--can make New Jersey a trafficking-free zone,” Smith said.