U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking (S.121); Voices of Human Trafficking Act (H.R.500)

Almost 14 years after the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, there is now a substantial group of identified survivors of human trafficking who are willing and capable of informing policy, shaping programmatic and funding decisions, providing training and technical assistance, and leading educational efforts. They have the most direct and intimate knowledge of the harm caused by trafficking and how any efforts at redress are likely to be received by those in a similar situation.

What does this legislation accomplish?

Establishes a survivor-­‐led United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking to provide advice and recommendations to government agencies, the Senior Policy Operating Group, and the President’s Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Specifically the bill ensures that the Council:

  1. Is representative of the diversity of survivor voices in the U.S., including those trafficked for sex or labor, individuals trafficked as adults and those trafficked as children, and both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. While other experts will be included, survivors make up at least half of the representation of the Council.
  2. Formulates assessments and recommendations to ensure that U.S. policy and programming efforts conform to best practices in the field of prevention and services for victims of human trafficking, and that government agencies have a point of contact for survivor input on programming.
  3. Submits a report to the Chair of President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, all governmental agency heads that are leading action plans in the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, and the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Appropriations, and the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Committees on Foreign Relations, Appropriations, Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and the Judiciary of the U.S. Senate.

Why should your office support the bill?

  1. This bill is a priority for survivors of human trafficking and has been driven by survivor input.
  2. Survivors of human trafficking should and must be considered the experts in creative and practical solutions to addressing modern slavery, since they have experienced it first-­‐hand. This Council would provide a unique opportunity to lift up their expertise and learn from it.
  3. In 2013, the federal government launched a 5-­‐year plan entitled the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. The Council offers a timely formal mechanism for survivor input to government agencies as the plan is implemented.
  4. This legislation is cost-­‐effective because it focuses on the utilization of existing expertise and helps ensure programs and policies on human trafficking are representative, realistic, and effective.
  5. The House version of the bill was introduced with bipartisan support, and a companion bill is expected to be reintroduced with bipartisan support in the Senate.
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