WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was introduced November 19 2013, and has been referred to committee. This bill is sponsored by Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) and currently has 78 co-sponsors.
The legislation proposes to amend the federal criminal code in order to add a further penalty of $5,000 on those persons or entities who have been found guilty of crimes pertaining to slavery and the trafficking of persons, sexual abuse and exploitation of adults and children, transportation for the purpose of illegal sexual activity and human smuggling that is in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Any penalties that are collected would go toward awarding grants or enhancing victims’ aid programs and services for child pornography victims. The money would also go toward improving upon child trafficking deterrence programs that work to rescue trafficking victims, help them recover and rebuild their lives, and punish those responsible.
Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said, during the 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, that trafficking, “feeds the vulnerability of marginalized populations, creating further instability and damaging communities. It corrupts the labor markets and global supply chains that are essential to a thriving global economy.”
In that report, it was revealed that as of that year, 65 countries were either classified as attempting to combat modern slavery, but were not gaining positive results, and in some cases it was getting worse or classified as not making any real attempts to fight it.
According to Time, the Department of State estimates that each year 27 million are trafficked for sex and labor across the world and of that number, there are between 14,000 and 17,500 who are trafficked into the United States.
CdeBaca made a statement in January in which he said that in recent years, the U.S. has worked with governments and NGOs across the globe to combat sex trafficking and modern slavery and that the most important lesson they have learned is that their efforts can only be successful if the solutions are sustainable and comprehensive, keeping in mind to target all forms of trafficking.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is one such weapon that has the potential to be in the U.S. arsenal to target and combat trafficking and modern slavery more effectively if it garners needed support from representatives and the American people.
– Heather Johnson