United States marks 21st anniversary of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act authored by Smith
The United States today marks the 21st anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)—the historic law to combat sex and labor trafficking authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a recognized international leader in the fight against modern-day slavery.
Smith’s pivotal landmark legislation created a new well-funded, whole-of-government domestic and international strategy to protect victims, prosecute traffickers and, to the extent possible, prevent trafficking—which has become a more visible and urgent priority for law enforcement, educators, survivor-leaders, and advocates since Smith’s law was first enacted.
“Twenty-one years ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act sparked a movement and codified our Nation’s decisive condemnation of modern-day slavery and our society’s fundamental recognition that human trafficking is antithetical to the values of our country that aspires toward ideals of freedom, human rights and the rule of law,” said Smith, who has authored four additional anti-trafficking laws.
Smith said the TVPA “marked a significant turning point that prompted two decades of rapid expansion in the United States’ efforts to eradicate human trafficking and vindicate the rights of victims and survivors” and called attention to the urgent need to further combat the egregious crime at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on trafficking earlier this week.
“While much progress has been made in the fight against human trafficking, we have more to do,” said Smith, who co-chairs the bipartisan Human Trafficking Caucus that he co-founded 15 years ago. “Pandemics, wars, and famine do not stop traffickers—we must be vigilant and innovative to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially women and children who are being reduced to commodities for sale.”
Smith pointed to several key provisions included in the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 5150)—the bipartisan legislation he authored this year to strengthen and expand anti-trafficking programs. Named after renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the survivor-informed bill was introduced last month by Smith and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) on the 183rd anniversary of Douglass’ escape from slavery.
Among the provisions, Smith’s legislation:
· Ramps up prevention and protection efforts against trafficking especially for children, who have experienced increased victimization from the isolation and increased online presence caused by the pandemic’s quarantine;
· Permanently establishes the survivor-led U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking as a part of the U.S. Government’s commitment to survivor-informed policy;
· Reauthorizes and strengthens the International Megan’s Law authored by Smith to track convicted sex offenders living abroad and returning to the United States; and
· Includes college scholarships named after “Frederick Douglass” for survivors as an investment in their future.
“Sex and labor trafficking have no place in our society,” Smith said. “Human trafficking exploits, enslaves and attacks the dignity of the human person. We must do everything we can to stop the normalization of the abuse and exploitation of people for profit.”