Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Helsinki Commission, House Armed Services Committee Review Defense Department Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

Washington – The United States Helsinki Commission and the House Committee on Armed Services will jointly convene an Issue Forum on Trafficking in Persons and the U.S. Military.


Enforcing U.S. Policies against Trafficking in Persons:

How is the U.S. Military Doing?

3:00 PM

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

2118 Rayburn House Office Building


The Issue Forum will examine Department of Defense efforts to implement the zero-tolerance policy on trafficking in persons issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in January 2004, in accordance with a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-22) on Trafficking in Persons issued by President Bush in December 2002.



Charles S. Abell, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

General Leon J. LaPorte, Commander, United States Forces Korea

Joseph E. Schmitz, Inspector General, Department of Defense

Ambassador John R. Miller, Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Department of State

Dr. Sarah Mendelson, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Martina E. Vandenberg, Attorney, Jenner and Block

In March 2002, Cleveland, Ohio’s Fox Affiliate WJW-TV aired an investigative report indicating that U.S. troops in South Korea were patronizing bars and other establishments where women from the Philippines and former Soviet states were trafficked and forced to prostitute themselves. 

In response to the report, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and a dozen other Members of Congress wrote to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld requesting an immediate investigation into the veracity of the allegations as well as the appropriateness of the U.S. military’s policies and response to prostitution and human trafficking worldwide.

Department of Defense Inspector General Joseph Schmitz subsequently conducted investigations in South Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo and issued two reports assessing the U.S. military’s policies and practices with respect to activity that might fuel sex trafficking and prostitution.  The reports contain numerous recommendations for action by DoD, including recommending a new department policy on trafficking.

In January 2004, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz issued a policy directive on human trafficking stating, in pertinent part:

“[I]t is the policy of the Department of Defense that trafficking in persons will not be facilitated in any way by the activities of our Service members, civilian employees, indirect hires, or DoD contract personnel.  Following the policy set by the Commander-in-Chief, DoD opposes prostitution and any related activities that may contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons as inherently harmful and dehumanizing.”

Wolfowitz’s policy directive outlined four specific objectives, including anti-trafficking education requirements for all service members and DoD civilians serving overseas and the incorporation of language into DoD contracts for services overseas reflecting such trafficking-related prohibitions.

The Issue Forum will assess the Department of Defense anti-trafficking policy in the context of findings and recommendations in the Inspector General’s reports and examine the implementation of the January 2004 directive.  The Defense Department’s implementation efforts will also be examined within the context of overall U.S. Government policy and efforts on combating trafficking in persons.  Particular attention will be given to current efforts by United States Forces Korea and the State Department to address trafficking of persons.

This event is part of the House Armed Services Committee’s Issue Forum series.  Issue Forums are designed to provide members of the committee with the opportunity to discuss current matters of relevance with government officials, selected experts, scholars and opinion makers in an informal setting.

Media contact

Filter Topics Open Close

Rescuing Ukrainian Children and Women from Russia...

Jul 26, 2023

Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, from wartime atrocities and from other threats such as human trafficking. Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury […]

Press Releases


Jul 19, 2023

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rayburn House Building room 2200 Streaming here: Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, […]


United States Demonstrates Global Leadership on Ukra...

Jul 14, 2023

The Helsinki Commission’s four senior leaders helmed the United States’ bicameral, bipartisan delegation to the 30th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly last week in Vancouver, Canada. Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), serving as Head of Delegation, was joined by Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) as Deputy Head of Delegation as well as Ranking Members […]


Protecting Ukrainian Refugees from Human Trafficking

Apr 07, 2023

More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s massive invasion on February 24, in the largest migration of people in Europe since the Second World War. Given Ukraine’s exit restrictions on males from 18-60, the vast majority of those are women and children. Most cross the Ukrainian border without resources or a place […]


My “Hell” in Russian Captivity

Sep 15, 2022

Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine include the brutal and unlawful detention of thousands of Ukrainians. At this hearing, Yuliia “Taira” Paievska, a well-known Ukrainian volunteer medic who was detained in Mariupol in March and held by the Russians for three months, testified about her capture, the deplorable conditions of her captivity, the plight of those […]

Press Releases

Ukrainian Medic to Testify on “Hell” in Russian Capt...

Sep 07, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing: MY “HELL” IN RUSSIAN CAPTIVITY Taira Paievska on Russia’s War in Ukraine Thursday, September 15, 2022 9:00 a.m. Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 106 Watch live: Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine include the brutal and […]

Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Alarmed By Reported Transport of...

Sep 02, 2022

WASHINGTON—Following reports that the Sparta II, a Russian cargo ship, transported S-300 missile systems through the Turkish Straits, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following joint statement: “We are alarmed by Russia’s reported transport of […]

Press Releases

Co-Chairman Cohen Deplores Arrest of Former Yekateri...

Aug 29, 2022

WASHINGTON—Following the arrest of the Kremlin critic and former Yekaterinburg mayor Yevgeniy Roizman, Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman and OSCE PA Special Representative on Political Prisoners Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following statement: “The arrest and prosecution of Yevgeniy Roizman is another milestone in the Kremlin’s descent into a full-blown dictatorship. “Putin’s brutal war against Ukraine […]


NATO Refocused, Europe Reinforced

Aug 10, 2022

By Jessika Nebrat, Max Kampelman Fellow​ Following the escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is playing a role it has not filled in years. Forced to reconcentrate its attention to Europe’s defense, NATO allies are demonstrating persistent resolve in countering Moscow’s expansionist tendencies. In doing so, NATO returns to a core […]


Wicker Stands in Solidarity With Russian Dissident

Jul 28, 2022

WASHINGTON – Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to make sure that the plight of Russian leader Vladimir Kara-Murza is not forgotten. That the outrageous imprisonment of Vladimir Kara-Murza by the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is not forgotten. We remember three decades ago what hope we had for a new Russia. Russia entered a new […]

Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Urges Administration to Work to ...

Jul 25, 2022

WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) today released a letter urging the Biden Administration to “use every instrument in our toolbox” to free Russian political prisoner Vladimir Kara-Murza. The letter read in part: “The United States […]

Press Releases


Jul 21, 2022

WASHINGTON—Margareta Cederfelt, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA), has appointed Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) as the first-ever OSCE PA Special Representative on Political Prisoners. “I welcome the chance to serve as the voice of political prisoners across the OSCE region,” said Co-Chairman Cohen. “Every day, we witness more political arrests of […]