(Washington) - Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ), the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, released the following statement regarding the success and positive impact of the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, released today for the fifth year. The report was mandated by Smith’s first trafficking bill, signed in October 2000 (Public Law 106-386).
“Since its inception in 2001, the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report has been a powerful tool to encourage governments around the world to address the growing problem of trafficking in human beings for forced labor and sexual exploitation.
"The 2005 Report includes an analysis of 150 countries. This is ten more than the previous year’s publication, and the most countries ever included in the report.
"A review of the report shows that over the past year, a stronger response from governments, an increase in public awareness of victim protection services, and a successful effort in anti-trafficking practices have occurred in many countries. Thirty-four countries improved their tier status, a sign of the system’s success and effectiveness. Regrettably, some other governments’ efforts lagged in the past year, resulting in the downward assessment of twenty-six countries. While it is disturbing that many strong allies of the United States fell into Tier 3, I commend the State Department for allowing the facts with regard to human trafficking to determine each country’s tier placement, rather than unrelated political considerations.
"The 2005 TIP report includes an informative list of ‘International Best Practices’ consisting of examples of innovative and effective anti-trafficking policies, such as the Czech Republic’s screening and identification procedures, as well as Estonia’s campaign to raise public awareness on global trafficking.
"This year’s report brings needed attention to the problem of peacekeepers’ complicity in the sexual exploitation of vulnerable populations, including through trafficking, and highlights some positive steps underway to prevent such exploitation.
"In addition, this year’s report includes data provided by foreign governments on trafficking-related investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences. As in our own country, the number of traffickers prosecuted and convicted has increased by nearly 300% since enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Likewise, the number of worldwide convictions increased this past year to more than 3000 convictions, as more countries acquired the legal tools necessary to combat trafficking and the political will to implement those tools.”
To support the U.S. Government’s ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, on February 17, Smith introduced the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, H.R. 972. The bill would reauthorize appropriations for anti-trafficking programs in the United States and abroad. The bill also offers solutions to specific scenarios in which trafficking is a problem and which experience has shown could benefit from additional initiatives.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.