(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Co-Chairs of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, reintroduced the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act to increase the country’s ability to monitor and effectively combat sex and human trafficking across the globe. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) released their 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, an annual report that identifies progress and lapses in efforts to end human trafficking and has proven to encourage governments to address specific gaps in their responses to the issue.
Under the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, the TIP Office would be established as a Bureau within the State Department. This will provide the TIP Office with greater ability to effectively advocate on behalf of anti-human trafficking initiatives and increase its ability to lead the global effort to end modern-day slavery. The TIP Office has become the center of the U.S. Government’s anti-slavery diplomacy, grant-making, and interagency collaboration. Additionally, designation of the TIP Office as a Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary would greatly improve the organizational support for combatting trafficking, increasing the likelihood that rankings in the annual TIP Report are made solely on a country’s efforts to combat sex and labor trafficking and not influenced by any other considerations.
“This measure will provide important support for dedicated diplomats and public servants for the forces against modern day slavery who combat human trafficking at home and around the globe,” said Blumenthal. “Increasing support and status bolsters advocacy worldwide. Senator Portman and I will continue working to address this fundamental violation of our most basic human rights. Human trafficking is a repugnant and reprehensible scourge that occurs in our own nation and across the world – a sobering, tragic, reality for children, and men and women of all ages.”
“Our provisions will empower those fighting human trafficking in the U.S. and worldwide,” Portman stated. “By elevating the status of those advocating on behalf of human trafficking victims, we will take important steps toward identifying and combating this form of modern day slavery.”
Joining Blumenthal and Portman as co-sponsors of this legislation are Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.).