ATEST Applauds Provisions to Combat Human Trafficking in H.R. 644
For Release: June 11, 2015
Washington, DC — The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) strongly supports provisions to combat human trafficking contained in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644).
ATEST continues to support the existing provision, proposed by Senator Menendez, in the Senate passed version of the Trade Act of 2015 (H.R. 1314 section 6(b)(6)) that prohibits countries not making significant efforts to combat human trafficking from receiving expedited consideration of trade agreements with the United States.
ATEST believes that the language contained in Chairman Ryan’s Substitute to H.R. 644 that adds an exception to the provision in H.R. 1314 also represents a positive step forward in the fight to combat human trafficking in the countries that are doing the least. Under the amendment, countries that are on Tier III in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report will not receive expedited consideration of trade agreements unless the country takes concrete actions to implement the principal recommendations for that country that are contained in the latest TIP Report.
“This approach strengthens U.S. leadership to prevent and end human trafficking around the world and protect the most vulnerable workers,” said David Abramowitz, Vice President for Policy and Government Relations at Humanity United, a philanthropic organization that supports ATEST’s work. “These provisions provide a new tool to promote real change and improve conditions for trafficked and exploited workers while helping to preserve the integrity of the TIP report.”
Abramowitz also welcomed the strengthening of provisions that prohibit the import of goods made with forced or prison labor into the United States contained in the substitute to H.R. 644.
“Taken together, these two provisions will force the worst countries to take real action towards ending human trafficking, and any goods they do ship that are made with forced labor can be stopped at our borders,” Abramowitz said. “Whether stopping prison made goods from China or seafood caught by vulnerable migrants in forced labor, the United States will have strong measures to ensure that human traffickers do not take advantage of open U.S. markets.”
ATEST also believes that now more than ever is the time for Congress to introduce and consider legislation, similar to bipartisan H.R. 4842 in the last session of Congress, to require private sector transparency about efforts taken to eliminate forced labor, child labor and child sexual exploitation in their supply chain. As we move toward increased trade with certain countries that have poor records on these issues, the trade pacts entail commitments by those national governments, but transparency in the private sector is necessary to make those commitments a reality.
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT-USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and World Vision. ATEST is a project of Humanity United.