Toggle navigation menu.
World Day against TIP

H.R. 2620: Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act

  • Hon. Christopher H. Smith
    US












House of Representative

108th Congress, First Session

Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, which is intended to improve the United States’ efforts in combating the scourge of human trafficking. I am very pleased to have Congressmen Lantos, Ranking Member of the International Relations Committee, Congressman Pitts and Congresswoman Slaughter, join me as original cosponsors.

According to a recently released U.S. Government estimate, 800,000 to 900,000 women, children and men fall victim to international trafficking each year and end up prisoners of slavery-like practices in the commercial sex industry, domestic servitude, sweatshops, and agricultural farms, among other destinations.

In October 2000, we adopted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), P.L. 106-386. As a result of that law, the U.S. Government allocated $68.2 million last year to combat trafficking in human beings. In the past two years, federal prosecutors initiated prosecutions of 79 traffickers–three times as many as in the two previous years. Nearly 400 survivors of trafficking in the United States have received assistance, facilitated by the Department of Health and Human Services, to begin recovering from their trauma and to rebuild their shattered lives. Thanks to the efforts of the State Department, USAID, and the spotlight put on the issue through the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, governments worldwide have also begun taking significant actions against human trafficking.

Despite these substantive inroads, people continue to be bought and sold in modern day slavery. Victims continue to face obstacles in the process of securing needed assistance. We are not yet addressing trafficking in persons as an organized crime activity. We have not yet aggressively targeted sex tourism as a factor contributing to the demand for trafficked persons in prostitution, and more specialized research is needed.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) would address these and other areas of concern, would authorize funding to continue our government’s efforts against trafficking, and would build upon the experience of implementing the TVPA to refine U.S. laws and practices to better fulfill the intent of that law. Specifically, the TVPRA would enhance the prevention of human trafficking by:

  • Requiring that U.S. Government contracts relating to international affairs contain clauses authorizing termination by the United States if the contractor engages in human trafficking or procures commercial sexual services while the contract is in force;
  • Promoting innovative trafficking prevention initiatives, such as border interdiction programs;
  • Requiring airlines to inform passengers about U.S. laws against sex tourism.
  • The TVPRA would enhance protections for trafficking victims by:
  • Allowing Federal, State or local law enforcement authorities to certify, for the purpose of receiving benefits, that a victim of trafficking has cooperated in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking crimes;
  • Allowing trafficking victims to sue their traffickers in U.S. courts;
  • Eliminating the requirement that a victim of trafficking between the ages of 15 and 18 must cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of his or her trafficker in order to be eligible for a T-visa;
  • Allowing benefits and services available to victims of trafficking to be available for their family members legally entitled to join them in United States; and
  • Providing for the confidentiality of T-visa applications.
  • The TVPRA would enhance prosecution of trafficking-related crimes by:
  • Permitting federal anti-trafficking statutes to be used to prosecute acts of trafficking involving foreign commerce or occurring in the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States;
  • Making human trafficking crimes predicate offenses for RICO charges; and
  • Encouraging the use of International Law Enforcement Academies to train foreign law enforcement authorities, prosecutors and members of the judiciary regarding human trafficking.
  • The TVPRA would improve the U.S. Government’s response to trafficking by:
  • Encouraging critical research initiatives;
  • Mandating a report on federal agencies’ implementation of the TVPA;
  • Designating that the Director of the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking shall have the rank of Ambassador-at-Large; and
  • Prohibiting the use of funds to promote, support, or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution.
  • The TVPRA would reauthorize appropriations for each of FY 2004 and 2005:
  • $4 million to the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking;
  • $15 million to the Department of Health and Human Services;
  • To the Secretary of State, $15 million for assistance for victims in other countries; $15 million for programs to improve law enforcement and prosecution; and $15 million for trafficking prevention initiatives;
  • $300,000 to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for trafficking prevention and legal reform programs;
  • $15 million to the Department of Justice for assistance to victims in the United States and $250,000 for anti-trafficking training activities at the International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs);
  • $15 million to the President for foreign victim assistance (prevention activities); $15 million for assistance to foreign countries to meet the minimum standards to combat trafficking; $300,000 for research; and $250,000 for anti-trafficking training activities at the ILEAs; and
  • $10 million to the Department of Labor.

Mr. Speaker, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 enjoyed broad, bi-partisan support in both Houses of Congress. We are making progress in our battle against modern day slavery, but clearly there is still much work to be done by government authorities, by civil society, by our faith communities, and by all men and women of good will. As lawmakers, we have the opportunity to make our contribution to this endeavor. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this commonsense reauthorization bill to support and enhance the good work which has been undertaken.

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Hearings

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 […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING: RESCUING UKRAINIAN CHILDREN AND WOMEN FROM ...

Jul 19, 2023

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rayburn House Building room 2200 Streaming here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n-NyI5xjt8 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, […]

screen-reader-text
Articles

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 […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

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 […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

CO-CHAIRMAN COHEN APPOINTED AS OSCE PARLIAMENTARY AS...

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 […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Protecting Ukrainian Refugees from Human Trafficking...

Apr 01, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing: PROTECTING UKRAINIAN REFUGEES FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING Thursday, April 7, 2022 10:30 a.m. Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 562 Watch live: www.youtube.com/HelsinkiCommission More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s massive invasion on February 24, […]

screen-reader-text
helsinki commission logo 368x331
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest January 2022

Jan 31, 2022

screen-reader-text
Articles

OSCE SHDM on Digital Technology and Human Rights

Jul 26, 2021

OSCE Conference on Risks and Opportunities Posed by Digital Technologies On July 12 and 13, 2021, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) held the third Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) of the year, titled “Digital Technologies and Human Rights – Opportunities and Challenges.” The virtual conference included representatives from 45 OSCE […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Cardin Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Legislation ...

Jun 23, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) lauded approval today by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of two bills he authored to strengthen U.S. human rights and anti-corruption efforts. Both pieces of legislation, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Reauthorization Act (S. 93), cosponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and the Combating Global Corruption Act […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

45th Anniversary of the U.S. Helsinki Commission

Jun 21, 2021

I take this time as the Chair of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission, as we celebrate our 45th anniversary. The Helsinki Commission is the vehicle for U.S. participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), representing 57 states that have come together under […]

screen-reader-text
Generic BG 368x331
Articles

Helsinki Commission Leadership Joins Inter-Parliamen...

Jun 07, 2021

On May 25, 2021, the U.S. Helsinki Commission joined the House Foreign Affairs Committee and European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights at the launch event for the EU – US Strategic Inter-Parliamentary Consultation on Human Rights. The inter-parliamentary discussion focused on global human rights sanctions regimes, values-based foreign policy, and opportunities for transatlantic cooperation. Helsinki […]

screen-reader-text
Logo_tile_368x331
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Commemorates 45 Years of Advanci...

Jun 03, 2021

WASHINGTON—To commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, on June 3, Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) and commission leaders Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) and Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statements: “The Helsinki Commission has played a vital role in elevating […]

screen-reader-text