WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Child Protection Compact Act Thursday, a bipartisan bill that would give the State Department additional tools to combat child trafficking, exploitation and enslavement.
“Children are most vulnerable to fall prey to human traffickers, which is exactly why this bill is so critical,” said Senator Cardin, chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission). “To show the seriousness with which we take the issue of child trafficking, we must provide this help to governments who need it and have shown a commitment to protecting children.”
“Trafficking, exploitation and enslavement of children are problems that demand urgent and sustained leadership. It is my hope and expectation that the Senate can act quickly on the Child Protection Compact Act and provide resources in an innovative way to protect the lives of vulnerable children around the world,” said Senator Boxer, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues.
“Modern-day slavery, in all its forms, is an atrocity that must be stopped. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Child Protection Compact Act, which will provide assistance to countries to rescue children from exploitation and trafficking. We must do all we can to help the millions of exploited children around the world who cannot advocate for themselves,” said Senator Brownback, the ranking Republican member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
According to the International Labour Organization, 1.8 million children worldwide are exploited for pornography and prostitution, with many more exploited through trafficking and enslavement. But even when less developed countries wish to combat such practices, their governments often lack the resources, infrastructure and expertise to tackle these problems. The State Department currently provides grants to non-governmental organizations to combat child trafficking, but that funding is often dispersed widely and stretched thin.
The Child Protection Compact Act (S. 3184) aims to bring additional financial resources and a more targeted approach to child trafficking by authorizing the Secretary of State to enter into three-year “Child Protection Compacts” with countries that are eager — but currently unable — to combat the high prevalence of tracking within their borders. No country would be eligible for more than $15 million in assistance over three years, and participants that violate compact requirements will lose funding.
This legislation was developed in collaboration with the non-governmental organizations International Justice Mission and World Vision. A similar bill, H.R.2737, introduced in the House of Representatives by Helsinki Commission ranking Republican Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has 95 bipartisan cosponsors.