WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of H.R. 4573, International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking:
“Thank you. I would first, before I begin like to commend our colleague, Mr. Chris Smith of New Jersey for his leadership on human rights and anti-trafficking issues, and for his and his staff’s hard work on H.R. 4573.
“I can’t begin to tell our colleagues how relentless Mr. Smith has been, his staff has been. This has really been almost a personal crusade for him. And I know if it wasn’t for the gentleman from New Jersey we would not be this far on this legislation, so I really think our colleagues should know of his dedication and hard work on this matter.
“I also want to thank the Judiciary Committee for its bipartisan input in this bill. I know all of the parties worked hard to make sure that the bill is a practical and effective mechanism which will help make a difference in the lives of those victimized by sexual predators. We again worked very closely with the Judiciary Committee on this bill as well. So this is a real good product with many inputs—bipartisan—from several committees, primarily Foreign Affairs and Judiciary.
“International Megan’s Law aims to prevent child sex offenders and traffickers from exploiting vulnerable children when they cross an international border.
“In many countries, extreme poverty and gaps in law enforcement create zones of impunity where sex offenders exploit vulnerable children. Sometimes local officials have no idea that this is going on. Sometimes they turn a blind eye. And sometimes, unfortunately, officials are even complicit in this crime.
“H.R. 4573 establishes an “Angel Watch Center” within Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would provide advance notice to foreign countries when a convicted child sex offender travels to that country. The bill also calls on the President to negotiate agreements with foreign governments that would encourage information—information sharing on known child sex offenders.
“Around the world, as many as 27 million people are victims of human trafficking—many of them children exploited in prostitution. These repugnant practices amount to modern slavery. They violate our deepest moral values. And they demand a timely and effective response.
“Madam Speaker, we need to do all we can to encourage governments around the world to live up to their responsibilities and confront this crime. Protecting trafficked children requires timely victim identification, placing them in safe environments, and providing them with comprehensive support services: physical and mental health care, educational opportunities, legal assistance, and reintegration with family and community.
“No single government or single law will put an end to child sex tourism or child sex trafficking. But every step we take strengthens our ability to prevent these crimes, protect its victims, and punish those responsible.
“So Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4573, and I reserve the balance of my time.”