WASHINGTON– The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved Tuesday the Child Protection Compact Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sam Brownback (R-KS) that would give the State Department additional tools to combat child trafficking, exploitation and enslavement.
“If we are going to combat human trafficking at its root, we need to strengthen cooperation between the United States and other countries, and this bill does that,” said Senator Cardin, chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Congress should pass this legislation this year to give the State Department the flexibility it needs to create strong partnerships with foreign governments who our committed to protecting children from modern-day slavery.”
Senator Boxer said, “The trafficking of children is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. I am so proud that my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, supported this bill, which will give the State Department new, innovative tools to help protect vulnerable children around the globe.” Senator Boxer chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues.
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 facilitate 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, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Commission Ranking Republican Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) with 110 bipartisan cosponsors.