Letter to US House International Relations Committee Suporting HR 972

March 7, 2005

HOUSE INTERNATIONAL-RELATIONS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Episcopal Church, USA, we urge you to support H.R.972, legislation to reauthorize U.S. programs to combat human trafficking.

More than 600,000 individuals each year are trafficked across international borders and exploited through forced labor and commercial sex exploitation. It is estimated that 80 percent of these trafficking victims are women and girls. At particular risk are populations who have lived through armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, a threat that has received increased international attention in the wake of the recent South Asian tsunami.

Since congressional passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the U.S. has stood at the forefront of international efforts to combat human trafficking, devoting more than $295 million to anti-trafficking measures. Other countries have followed suit, with 24 nations enacting new anti-trafficking protections between 2003 and 2004 alone. Taken together, these programs have been a tremendous success, resulting in the conviction of more than 2,400 traffickers worldwide.

H.R.972 reauthorizes our nation’s existing anti-trafficking programs and creates new measures to address emerging dynamics of the worldwide trafficking crisis. These enhanced protections include strategies to combat trafficking in post-conflict and humanitarian-disaster situations; increased accountability for U.S. government personnel and contractors who engage in acts of trafficking; and new measures to address the involvement of international military and civilian peacekeeping personnel in sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation. The legislation also creates new protections against human trafficking that occurs within the borders of single countries, including the United States.

The bill also supports the initiation of much-needed government research into the link between human trafficking and other pervasive international crises, including HIV/AIDS and terrorism. This commendable step recognizes the interconnectivity of the various challenges to world stability and calls the U.S. government to treat them as parts of a whole.

The Episcopal Church long has supported U.S. leadership in combating the abhorrent practice of human trafficking, and strongly endorses the enhanced measures in H.R.972.

Sincerely,

Maureen Shea
Director of Government Relations

Alex Baumgarten
International Policy Analyst