WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 25, 2014) – Global human rights organization International JusticeMission (IJM) praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passage of the Human TraffickingPrioritization Act (HR 2283) after a series of votes on Wednesday night on a package of bills designed tocombat human trafficking.The bi-partisan legislation, passed without a dissenting voice or vote, would elevate the authority of theState Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office (TIP)—a U.S. government agency dedicated tocombating human trafficking internationally. Established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of2000, the office makes grants to NGOs combating slavery globally and issues an annual Trafficking inPersons report, which ranks 188 countries into four tiers based on their efforts to combat humantrafficking.In remarks on the House floor on Wednesday evening, HR 2283 lead sponsor Congressman Chris Smith(NJ-4) praised the efforts of the TIP Office, and highlighted the diplomatic power of the annual TIPreport, which he said has motivated more than 100 countries to pass anti-trafficking laws and take othersteps to improve their tier rankings. “The tier rankings were meant to be and in large part have become avery powerful tool in the fight against trafficking. We have found a system that works. But tragically, it issometimes muffled, misguided, and marginalized by unrelated bilateral concerns and by the internalstructure of the State Department itself,” said Congressman Smith.Many anti-slavery and faith-based organizations, including the Presidents’ Faith-Based AdvisoryCommittee, have called for the TIP Office’s upgrade to a Bureau, a cost-free change which creates noadditional governmental bureaucracy and will give the TIP Office greater independence and authority toprotect the vulnerable people it was created to serve. In June of this year, more than 200 advocates fromaround the U.S. joined IJM staff in meetings with nearly 250 Congressional offices, urging swift passageof the legislation.“Even during times of intense political partisanship, one thing that all Americans can agree on is theurgent need to combat modern-day slavery,” said Holly Burkhalter, Vice President of GovernmentRelations at IJM. “The State Office Trafficking in Persons Office makes grants that save lives and buildinternational capacity to end human trafficking. The office should be made a full-fledged StateDepartment Bureau, in order to best represent the interests of the most vulnerable people in the world –slaves and trafficking victims.”The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration. A companion bill in that body, S 1249, hasbeen co-sponsored by 34 Senators, but has not yet been considered by the Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee.
International Justice Mission is the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, working to end modern-day slavery, human trafficking and other forms of violence against the poor by rescuing and restoring victims, restraining perpetrators, and transforming broken public justice systems. Learn more at www.ijm.org.