Washington -- Signing
legislation January 10 that strengthens U.S. efforts to
fight human trafficking at home and abroad, President Bush
reiterated American determination “to fight and end
this modern form of slavery.”
President George W. Bush signs H.R. 972, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006. The bill directs the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Dept., and Dept. of Defense to incorporate anti-trafficking and protection measures for vulnerable populations, particularly women and children, into their post-conflict and humanitarian emergency assistance and program activities.
“We are called by conscience and compassion
to bring this cruel practice to an end,” said Bush
during a ceremony in Washington to sign legislation renewing
the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the first
comprehensive U.S. law aimed at deterring trafficking, punishing
traffickers and protecting and rehabilitating the victims.
The new law expands funding for anti-trafficking
programs in the United States and abroad and seeks to combat
specific problems such as trafficking by international peacekeepers
or by U.S. federal employees and contractors working overseas.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization
Act (TVPRA) strengthens current U.S. anti-trafficking laws
and authorizes new funds to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
to combat both domestic and international trafficking.
Internationally, the new law requires U.S.
assistance programs for post-conflict and humanitarian emergencies
to include anti-trafficking measures, and it includes provisions
for monitoring and combating forced labor and child labor
in foreign countries.
Trafficking in human beings involves the
forced labor of men, women and children in the commercial
sex industry as prostitutes, as well as forced labor in
factories, fields, restaurants and homes.
“Human traffickers operate with greed
and without conscience, treating their victims as nothing
more than goods and commodities for sale to the highest
bidder,” Bush said, adding that thousands of teenagers
and young girls are brought into the United States every
year where they are “forced to submit to unspeakable
“We cannot put the criminals out of
business until we also confront the problem of demand,”
the president said. “Those who pay for the chance
to sexually abuse children and teenage girls must be held
to account. So we'll investigate and prosecute the customers,
the unscrupulous adults who prey on the young and the innocent.”
The TVPRA strengthens the use of money laundering,
racketeering and civil and criminal forfeiture statutes
against traffickers, and it establishes the crime of sex
trafficking under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
It also directs the Department of Justice to conduct a biennial
analysis of trafficking and commercial sex acts statistics
inside the United States.
In his remarks, Bush spoke of the “duty
to reach out to victims of trafficking, some of whom were
smuggled into this country as children.”
“The legislation I signed today will
help us provide important new services to these victims,
including appointing a guardian for young victims and providing
access to residential treatment facilities to help victims
get a chance at a better life,” he said.
The TVPRA authorizes several pilot projects
as well as grants to nongovernmental organizations to provide
counseling and help to reintegrate victims of trafficking
into society. These include pilot treatment facilities for
both domestic and foreign victims of trafficking.
Under U.S. law, victims of trafficking are
not deported. They have the right to stay in the United
States, either through "continued presence," which
allows victims to stay pending an outcome of a trial, or
through a "T" visa, which allows them to stay
for up to three years and to thereafter apply for legal
Representative Chris Smith, a Republican
from New Jersey who authored the original anti-trafficking
law as well as the reauthorization, said in a January 9
statement that “human trafficking is not a criminal
activity exclusive to foreign countries – it happens
within our own borders, within our own communities.”
“The 2005 Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act strengthens and expands our efforts
and allows law enforcement to continue to liberate the women
and children who are forced and coerced into slavery,”
According to estimates by the Congressional
Budget Office (CBO), the TVPRA will provide $361 million
over the next two years to combat trafficking.
Trafficking provides organized crime with
annual profits in the range of $8 billion to $10 billion,
according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which estimates
600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international
borders each year, while millions more are trafficked internally
within the borders of countries, including somewhere between
14,500 and 17,500 in the United States.
Worldwide, more than 3,000 traffickers were
convicted last year – an increase from the previous
year, according to the State Department’s 2005 Trafficking
in Persons Report.
“We will continue to call on other
nations to take action against trafficking within their
own borders,” Bush pledged.
sheet on the TVPRA on the Web site of the State Department’s
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The
Web site also includes a fact
sheet on Rescuing Victims of Modern-Day Slavery.
of the president’s remarks at the signing ceremony
is available on the White House Web site. A statement
by Representative Smith about the TVPRA is available on
his Web site.
For additional information on U.S. anti-trafficking
efforts both domestically and worldwide, see Human
Washington File Staff Writer