In just a few weeks, 300 anti-slavery activists from 45 states will visit hundreds of Congressional offices. On the same day, hundreds of advocates from all over the country will be calling their members of Congress (we hope you’ll be one of them!), joining together to tell our elected representatives that we care about slavery and we want them to do something about it.
This year, we’ll be asking Members and Senators for their support on two anti-slavery priorities.
One is a sign-on letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking him to designate Ghana and the Philippines as focus countries for anti-slavery investment and support. This will be a fun ask for advocates because much of the work has already been done! Back in 2009, IJM and our friends around the U.S. supported legislation called the Child Protection Compact Act. The bill authorized the State Department to secure strategic agreements with foreign governments to protect children from trafficking for sex or labor. It prioritized foreign assistance to help nations train police to locate and rescue children and to bring traffickers and slave owners to justice in local courts.
That legislation was passed as a part of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in February 2013. A year later, Congress appropriated $5 million for Child Protection focus countries. That money is now available to the State Department. The letter to Secretary Kerry asks him to use it in Ghana and the Philippines. We are recommending those countries because both governments have political will to confront the crime of child slavery but need resources and technical help.
Our second policy priority this year is for Congress to enact legislation that would make the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (JTIP) a full-fledged State Department Bureau. The legislation doesn’t create new bureaucracy—it simply renames the office. And it doesn’t cost any money to make the change. But it will enhance its effectiveness, both within the State Department and in diplomatic relations around the world.
I am continually amazed at the interest in trafficking and slavery across the political spectrum in Congress. Part of the reason why is that many of them have heard from the people in their states, districts, towns and cities.
If you aren’t coming to our Advocacy Summit next month, we still need you to raise your voice with us. We’ll provide you with a phone number and a sample script, so that calling your members of Congress on June 10 will be really easy.
Thanks, friends! We’re glad to be in this fight with all of you.