WASHINGTON –The State Department Trafficking in Persons report released today is a valuable awareness-raising tool, but stronger laws and prosecution are needed to end sexual slavery and forced labor around the world, leaders of the U.S. Helsinki Commission said.
“Monitoring is critical, but sometimes to protect the most vulnerable we need to be more creative, which is why Senator Boxer and I introduced the Child Protection Compact Act with Senator Brownback,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission). “This bill would bring the needed money and targeted approach to child trafficking by allowing the Secretary of State to enter into three-year compacts with countries that are eager but currently unable to combat tracking within their borders.”
This year’s Trafficking in Persons report release featured Florida hero Laura Germino, coordinator of the Anti-Slavery Campaign for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The organization of more than 4,000 migrant farm workers has investigated numerous violent slavery operations in the southeastern United States, resulting in federal prosecutions of the ringleaders and the liberation of more than 1,000 workers.
“We need more people like Laura who will fight to end the exploitation of farm workers that persists decades after I personally witnessed it when I was a young migrant worker in Central Florida,” said Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). “Many agricultural laborers still encounter practices as insidious as I saw in my youth which rob them of their basic human rights. Unfortunately, these circumstances thrive throughout the world. We would be at a serious loss in challenging exploitation were it not for the dogged determination of heroes like Laura and the important monitoring efforts of the Trafficking in Persons Report each year.”
In the report’s 8th year this is the first time the international heroes selected by the State Department for their work to end modern day-slavery will be brought to Capitol Hill. The heroes who represent the United States, Brazil, Burundi, Hungary, India, Jordan, Mauritania and Mongolia will be honored at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday by Helsinki Commission leaders and Ambassador Luis CdeBaca of the State Department Office to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons. (See bios of all the heroes here.)
Ranking Republican Commissioner Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has introduced legislation that would require U.S. officials to tell foreign governments when a registered child sex offender is headed to their country. “U.S. and some foreign law enforcement agencies are making a sincere effort to track traveling and dangerous child sex offenders now, but too often information is not being shared,” Smith said. “This is unsafe and insufficient. We need to systematize communications and ultimately protect all children around the world.”
Chairman Cardin’s Child Protection Compact Act is S. 3184. Congressman Smith’s International Megan’s Law is H.R. 5138.