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WASHINGTON (October 28, 2010) — Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, Utah, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB) Committee on Migration, today commemorated the tenth anniversary of enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), signed into law on October 28, 2000. The TVPA is the landmark federal legislation used to fight human trafficking operations and to rescue and assist victims of human trafficking in the United States.
Congress has re-authorized the TVPA three times since its original enactment, in 2003, 2005 and 2008. The TVPA again will be considered for re-authorization in 2011.
“The enactment of the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act ten years ago marked a historic moment in the battle against the modern forms of human trafficking, which claims thousands of both foreign-born and domestic trafficking victims each year,” said Bishop Wester. “Despite this landmark achievement, much remains to be done, both domestically and internationally, to end this modern-day form of slavery.”
In conjunction with Bishop Wester’s comments, Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of USCCB issued a report entitled, “Reflections: Health and Human Service’s Service Mechanism for Foreign National Survivors,” which provides recommendations for improvements in providing life-saving services to victims of trafficking, particularly child trafficking victims.
Bishop Wester also commented on the international impact of the TVPA and how it has raised awareness of the issue of human trafficking worldwide.
“The enactment of the TVPA in 2000 brought worldwide attention to the issue of human trafficking. Nations around the world have taken note of U.S. leadership on this issue and have taken steps to address the problem in their own countries,” Bishop Wester said.
Bishop Wester added that more should be done to compel source countries for human trafficking (designated as “Tier 3” countries by the U.S. State Department) to fight and eliminate human trafficking syndicates in their nations. Each year, the U.S. State Department issues a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report that ranks how foreign governments are progressing in their battle against human trafficking.
“Coordinating an integrated U.S. government response to trafficking in foreign countries that leverages resources and imposes penalties has been difficult,” he said. “The standards that form the basis for the ranking of countries needs more clarity and the penalties directed at governments that do not attempt to combat human trafficking operations must likewise be more defined and evenly applied.”
Looking ahead to the re-authorization of the TVPA in 2011, Bishop Wester emphasized that federal legislators should consider including the MRS report recommendations in any re-authorization bill taken up by Congress next year.
“The TVPA and its subsequent re-authorizations have marked a significant, bipartisan achievement of which our nation should be proud,” Bishop Wester said. “While these laws have helped in providing the needed tools to combat human trafficking, they should be enhanced and used more aggressively in the years ahead.”
“The U.S. bishops remain committed to working with the U.S. government and the international community to battle human trafficking in all its forms, until one day it is eradicated from the globe,” concluded Bishop Wester.
For a copy of MRS’ report, “Reflections: Health and Human Service’s Service Mechanism for Foreign National Survivors”, go to: http://www.usccb.org/mrs/reflections-letter-20101024-KP.pdf.
Keywords: Trafficking Victims Protection Act, human trafficking, Migration and Refugee Services, Bishop John C. Wester
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