WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at a Committee markup on the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 1771), the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (H.R. 4449), and a resolution calling for transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election in Afghanistan (H. Res. 600):
“Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for holding this markup and for, again, the bipartisan collaboration on the three measures before us today.
“I’d like to begin by commending you for your hard work on the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, and for your longstanding commitment to address the grave threat posed by North Korea. I've been there twice. It doesn't make me an expert, but once you step foot in that country you realize something is terribly wrong.
“This bill would broaden U.S. sanctions against those helping sustain the regime in Pyongyang, whose crimes against humanity the UN Human Rights Office says are “without parallel in the modern world.”
“The North Korean regime is no stranger to sanctions, and it’s clear why: development of nuclear weapons, arms smuggling, trans-national crime. To me, however, the brutal repression of the North Korean people above all warrants the enactment of this legislation.
“With this bill, Congress labels North Korea’s supporters as equally responsible for the horrors imposed by Kim Jong Un and his cronies on the North Korean people.
“This measure provides broader and tougher sanctions against North Korea’s illicit activities and gives the President flexibility to use the authorities in this Act most effectively. And it carefully avoids any interference with the relief organizations providing food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to the North Korean people.
“That's the irony—the United States has been the strongest and the greatest provider of food and medicine and other humanitarian aid to the North Korean people, while their brutal regime kills their own people and vilifies the United States.
“This bill is aimed at those few around the world who have chosen to remain morally blind to the crimes of the North Korean state. I urge all of our colleagues to support it.
“I want to commend our colleague, Mr. Connolly, who has been relentless in urging passage of this legislation. Indeed, he's been relentless in terms of everything involving the repression in North Korea. He was speaking to me about it, urging us to pass it, working with us on it in order to help stop the North Korean regime, and I want to publicly thank Mr. Connolly for his strong support and his help with this legislation.
“Mr. Chairman, I also support H. R. 4449, a bill introduced by my colleague from New York, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. This legislation would expand training requirements for federal governmental personnel—including employees of the State Department – on identifying and preventing human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and its victims are robbed of their freedom and dignity. This crime spans the globe, driving profits of up to $32 billion a year. Best estimates tell us that as many as 27 million people are victims of human trafficking—many coerced into forced labor or commercial sex with no means of escape.
“One of the best ways to stop this crime is to make sure people know it when they see it.
“This bill would provide comprehensive, mandatory training and special briefings on human trafficking for embassy reporting officers, regional bureaus’ trafficking-in-persons coordinators, and their superiors.
“It would also keep our State Department and other federal government personnel up to speed on the key problems, threats, methods, and warning signs of human trafficking specific to their country or post.
“Mr. Chairman, we need to remember that people, not policies, are often the first line of defense against modern slavery, and this legislation will better prepare our diplomats and other public servants to spot this crime and take action as they serve at their diplomatic posts abroad.
“So I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation as well.
“And finally, I support a resolution on the presidential election in Afghanistan that was introduced by our colleague Rep. Grayson.
“On April 5th, the people of Afghanistan went to the polls. We saw incredible courage that day: from the candidates, the poll workers, and all those who have braved countless acts of violence and intimidation because they wanted their voices to be heard.
“Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission recently announced that none of the candidates garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, so the Commission scheduled a run-off election for June 14th. The Afghans should be proud of their electoral system, civil society, media, and security forces for carrying out a successful first round of voting. Let me also congratulate the two leading vote recipients, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani.
“This run-off represents another step forward for the people of Afghanistan. The future of their country is in their hands. And as this resolution conveys, it is critical that this runoff election be credible, inclusive, and transparent. The long term stability, prosperity, and security in Afghanistan depend on a democratically elected government that reflects the will of the Afghan people.
“So I urge our colleagues to support this resolution as well.
“So Mr. Chairman, in closing, I’d like to again thank you for holding this markup, and look forward to working with you to advance all three of these measures.”
Watch Rep. Engel's Opening Statement Here
H.R. 1771, North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act
H.R. 4449, Human Trafficking Prevention Act
H.Res. 600, Calling for Transparent, Credible, and Inclusive run-off presidential election in Afghanistan