Congressman Smith Leads 57 Countries To Adopt Best Practices To Fight Human Trafficking

Jul 11th, 2018 | By | Category: Featured
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Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ).

An international parliamentary assembly of leading lawmakers from 57 countries today adopted a comprehensive resolution, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), to create trafficking-free communities.

Along with 14 other members of the U.S. Congress and more than 300 lawmakers from countries in Europe and North America, Smith, who authored America’s landmark law (the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000) to combat sex and labor trafficking, is attending the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCEPA) Annual Session.

“Women and girls are disproportionately affected by human trafficking,” said Smith. “Women and girls account for 99 percent of trafficking victims in the commercial sex industry and 58 percent in labor trafficking—this is simply unacceptable in any community.”

According to the International Labor Organization, 16 million people are exploited in labor trafficking, 4.8 million people are exploited in sex trafficking, and 4 million are exploited in state-imposed trafficking, such as prison labor, forced military service, and forced communal service.

Smith’s resolution, entitled “Implementing Trafficking-Free Communities” drew upon effective best practices developed in the United States and new information showing that implementing multiple best practices simultaneously can significantly reduce trafficking in a community over the course of a year.

“A whole of community approach entails multi-sectoral efforts, including simultaneous action by schools, police, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, shelter services, businesses, houses of worship, and media,” said Smith. “When representatives of various government and civil society groups and professions come together, for example on a Task Force that meets regularly, and for a strategy that is integrated, victims win and traffickers lose.”

Specifically, the Smith resolution encourages each of the 57 countries to:

· Create joint task forces and simultaneous action by schools, police, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, shelter services, businesses, houses of worship, and media;
· Train all those who are likely to be in contact with trafficking victims—including school, airline, bus, train, taxi, judicial, and law enforcement employees—to recognize and respond appropriately to trafficking victims;
· Establish a unified trafficking hotline for use throughout Europe by airline, train, bus, and taxi employees who identify trafficking victims;
· Act to discourage the practice of sexual tourism by known sex offenders traveling to Europe, to the United States, and elsewhere, by keeping registries of individuals who have previously committed sex crimes against children and sending and receiving alerts on traveling offenders;
· Implement previous commitments, such as prosecuting classified ad website owners who profit from advertising children for sex trafficking and allowing trafficking victims to sue website owners who advertised them;
· Prioritize demand reduction as part of an integrated strategy against trafficking.

“My resolution tracks the progress we have made against trafficking, as well as charts the way forward,” said Smith.

At thirteen previous conferences, Smith—who serves as the Special Representative on combatting human trafficking for the OSCEPA—has sponsored thirteen successful resolutions, including the first in 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia. As Special Representative on Trafficking, Rep. Smith writes an annual report on human trafficking.

Smith, currently the Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), has authored four major U.S. laws to fight trafficking: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (P.L. 106-386), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-193), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-164) and the International Megan’s Law (P.L. 114-119).

In July of 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the new bill he has introduced to fight trafficking, the (H.R. 2200) “Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act.”

The OSCE is an international organization that focuses on a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. All participating States enjoy equal status.

In addition to Smith’s efforts on human trafficking, he sponsored and passed an amendment to help fight the scourge of anti-Semitism and, along with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), met with Russian law makers to discuss election interference and human rights concerns, including human trafficking. Russia received a failing grade in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, required by Rep. Smith’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

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