June 12, 2007

Washington, DC –Chairman Tom Lantos of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said a report released today by the Department of State about human trafficking worldwide underscores that the department needs to focus more resources on the problem rather than being forced to cut back on the one office dedicated to it.

“By its own reckoning, the State Department shows that around the world more and more countries are failing to meet minimum anti-trafficking standards,” said Lantos, who is also the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. “At the same time, the Administration is cutting anti-trafficking funding for the State Department’s Trafficking Office, which is best placed to address these rising problems. This makes absolutely no sense.”

The State Department released its Trafficking in Persons Report for 2006 earlier today. Lantos noted that some countries had shown improvement in the measures they take to stop slavery and other forms of human trafficking, but the overall trend was dismal.

“Given our history, the United States has a moral imperative to put an end to the disgrace of global trafficking in persons,” Lantos said. “On the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, we should be redoubling our efforts to wipe this abomination out once and for all, not undermining the mechanisms created by Congress to address this issue. Congress will return to this issue later this year to bolster U.S. anti-trafficking efforts.”

The number of countries that do not meet minimum standards increased from 10 in 2003, to 12 in 2005, and has unfortunately reached a new high of 16 in the 2007 report. Funding for the State Department’s Trafficking in Person’s office was $12 million in 2006, but the President has requested only $6.7 million for fiscal 2008, a decrease of more than 40 percent.