Smith Named as Human Trafficking Lead for Int'l Parliament Organization
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE-PA) has again named Congressman Smith as the OSCE-PA Special Representative on Human Trafficking.
In July, Smith’s resolution Educating Schoolchildren to Avoid Human Trafficking was unanimously adopted by the OSCE-PA. He has authored five major trafficking laws in the U.S., including the law that created a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to combating human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. The law, which also mandates the State Department to rate every country in the world’s efforts to fight trafficking, has been successfully used to prosecute thousands of trafficking cases in the United States, including Jeff Epstein. Smith was first appointed to the post in 2004. Smith is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and is Ranking Member of its Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee.
Following are excerpts of his remarks during debate in the Third General Committee of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Luxembourg, July 2019:
Twenty years ago at the 1999 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia, I sponsored the first human trafficking supplementary resolution designed to encourage all participating states to develop policies to prevent trafficking in all of its ugly manifestations; rescue and protect victims; and prosecute, convict and jail the traffickers.
A year later the US Congress approved and the President signed legislation that I authored—the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000—a comprehensive whole-of-government policy to combat these barbaric crimes in the United States and around the world.
Pursuant to that law, on June 20th, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo released the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report—a global analysis and ranking of every country including my own.
As the Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Human Trafficking, I’ve offered 20 resolutions over the years which the PA approved—each focusing on new and effective strategies to be merged with each nation’s ongoing work.
Today, I am respectfully asking you to consider creating another program—if you haven’t already—to educate schoolchildren to avoid human trafficking.
This past January, I authored legislation that was signed into law—The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act. The new law honors the extraordinary legacy of one of the greatest Americans who ever lived.
Born a slave in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped slavery when he was 20 and dedicated his entire life to abolishing slavery and after emancipation, to ending Jim Crow laws, all the while struggling for full equality. A gifted orator, author, editor, statesman and Republican, he died in 1895.
America celebrated the 200th anniversary of his birth last year.
Working with Frederick Douglass’ great, great, great grandson Kenneth Morris—who is here with us and will be speaking at luncheon event on July 6th at 12:30-2:30 pm, room E, European Convention Center—we crafted a comprehensive new initiative designed to ensure that school-aged children are educated in the classroom to recognize, resist and report any attempt to recruit or coerce them into the cruel world of human trafficking.
Title I of the Frederick Douglass Act authorizes the U.S. government to provide grants to local education agencies in partnership with NGOs to establish, expand and support programs:
The need for educating the children and training school officials in each of our countries is compelling.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) one in four trafficking victims are children.
Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labor imposed by state authorities.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labor, account for 99 percent of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58 percent in other sectors.
Traffickers exploit children due to their lack of awareness about the threat and a child’s vulnerability can be compounded by poverty, a previous history of abuse and neglect, institutionalization, running away from home, being an unaccompanied minor, disability, belonging to a minority group, lacking citizenship or birth registration, being an asylum seeker, refugee or IDP.
Today as never before, traffickers are using internet communication technologies (ICTs) to lure children into trafficking.
According to a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children study the average age of online enticement that can result in being trafficked was 15.
A number of NGOs have developed school courses including the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives Project, A21, Just Ask, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
If your country has a program to educate children, we’d like to know about it so it can be shared.
The requested action paragraphs of the resolution asks you to:
Again, 1 in 4 trafficking victims are children. Each of us, I believe, can and must do a better job protecting the weakest and most vulnerable from exploitation. The need to educate the children on human trafficking and how to avoid it is absolutely compelling.