This week has been designated as Combating Human Trafficking and Child Protection Week in the U.S. House of Representatives. A good time for a situation update on the state of play for America’s most critical human trafficking legislation.
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA): This landmark law, first passed in 2000, provides the architecture for America’s federal anti-slavery efforts. It sunsets this year and must be renewed. FTS has been working in both the House and Senate to ensure the act is reauthorized and strengthened. The bill has been renamed, it used to be the William Wilberforce TVPA in honor of the English member of parliament who worked to outlaw the slave trade in the British Empire. The new name is the Frederick Douglass TVPA in honor of the American anti-slavery hero. The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), which includes Free the Slaves, has applauded work on the House version of the bill and has testified in Congress on behalf of the anti-slavery movement. The Senate version of the bill should be introduced soon.
Other Legislative Initiatives: We’re supporting a Senate bill to prevent traffickers from using U.S. banks to launder illicit profits, and a proposal to integrate anti-slavery work into projects at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and a Senate bill to strengthen the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report and require international development institutions to ensure their projects don’t make slavery worse.
Federal Funding: We have provided agency-by-agency spending guidance to lawmakers working on the 2018 federal budget. See the ATEST recommendations here and here and here. And we have joined other organizations to express deep concern over potential cuts in programs that address gender-based violence.
Presidential Briefing: President Trump invited the Generation Freedom network, which includes Free the Slaves, to brief him on ways to maintain American leadership in combating slavery worldwide. He pledged to “do more,” and followed-up with a request for policy and spending recommendations.
Executive Orders: Some of the president’s orders have the potential to increase human trafficking rather than reduce it. Free the Slaves has voiced opposition to a funding crackdown on sanctuary cities and has communicated to the Trump administration that a narrow prosecution-only approach to fighting modern slavery falls short; a whole-of-government comprehensive approach is needed.
Conflict Minerals Rule: This corporate transparency regulation has a big impact on reducing slavery in central Africa. It requires U.S. compa-nies to disclose if their products contain minerals from mines in the Congo that finance armed conflict – mines where slavery thrives. The Trump administration has discussed relaxing or suspending the rule. Free the Slaves has successfully rallied our on-the-ground organizations in Congo to ensure that African voices are heard in this policy debate in Washington.
We’ll keep you nformed with periodic updates in the FTS Blog as events unfold. For faster updates, and to take action if we need to rally anti-slavery movement supporters to show grassroots backing for anti-trafficking legislation, please be sure you are following us on Twitter and Facebook and are signed up for our e-Alert mailing list.