Chairman Royce Continues Fight Against Human Trafficking
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, continued to fight against human trafficking around the world by calling on the Obama Administration to promptly and publicly identify countries that have failed to adequately crack down on human trafficking activities within their borders, in compliance with the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act.
Royce addressed this vital issue at a subcommittee hearing, entitled, “Tier Rankings and the Fight Against Human Trafficking,” convened by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
In his statement submitted for the official record, Rep. Royce said: “Human trafficking is modern slavery, and crushes the lives and hopes of millions around the world -- especially women and girls -- for the unjust benefit of others, including criminal syndicates and terrorists.”
In June, the State Department is required to publish the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), in which a number of the 186 countries being monitored for their anti-human trafficking efforts will be either promoted to Tier 2 or demoted to Tier 3. The list ranks the countries from Tier 1 to Tier 3. Tier 2 countries may not fully comply with minimum standards, such as protection, prosecution, and prevention, but are making a significant effort to comply. Tier 3 countries are subject to U.S. sanction for failure to comply with the standards and failure to make significant efforts to do so.
The statement continued: “If…countries have not made significant efforts to comply with minimum trafficking standards, they must be downgraded to Tier 3 status.”
Information about the hearing, including video and witness testimony, is available HERE. Chairman Royce’s full statement as submitted for the record:
“Chairman Smith, I want to thank you for holding this hearing, and for your tireless commitment to fighting human trafficking during the past decade and a half.
Human trafficking is modern slavery, and crushes the lives and hopes of millions around the world -- especially women and girls -- for the unjust benefit of others, including criminal syndicates and terrorists.
Today’s subcommittee review is critically important because the upcoming country tier rankings will be the first time that the Administration unavoidably runs into the limits set by Congress in 2008 on how long a country can avoid the worst, Tier 3 designation, by sitting on the “Tier 2 Watch List.”
The “parking lot” is now closed: The Administration can no longer avoid telling hard truths about politically sensitive countries by keeping them indefinitely on the “Watch List,” which was not part of the original, three-tier structure established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
If time-limited countries have not made significant efforts to comply with minimum trafficking standards, they must be downgraded to Tier 3 status.
Unfortunately, the same reason that Congress has had to push so hard to time-limit the Watch List, is the same reason that I have concerns about aspects of the trafficking reauthorization recently passed as part of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
While I strongly supported the VAWA bill as a whole, I am worried that the Senate's trafficking language could harm the important work of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons -- the TIP Office -- at the State Department.
Within State, the TIP Office has been the Congressionally-authorized anchor that keeps our trafficking advocacy from being swept away by the usual pressures of bilateral diplomacy.
In contrast to the funding increases elsewhere in that bill, I simply do not understand the cuts to the TIP office, and I hope that today’s witnesses -- especially Ambassador Lagon -- can discuss any dangers posed by those changes.
Thank you, again, Chairman Smith, for your continued oversight of these critical human rights issues.”