Make sure the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) isn't weakened during its Senate reauthorization, which is HAPPENING NOW!
In Dec. 2007, the House of Representatives near-unanimously (405-2) passed a very strong reauthorization bill that addresses some limitations in the old TVPA.
Unfortunately, the companion bill in the Senate (S. 3061), introduced by Senators Joe Biden and Sam Brownback, is missing crucial criminal justice provisions. If the new federal TVPA more closely resembles the Senate's version of this bill, criminal prosecutions for human traffickers will continue to be minimal -- at best.
The Senate bill (S. 3061) is CURRENTLY under review by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Please contact Senators Biden and Brownback (both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee) and ask them to amend the Senate bill by including the criminal justice provisions of the House bill (H.R. 3887):
Senator Joseph Biden
Phone: (202) 224-5042
Fax: (202) 224-0139
Address: 201 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Senator Sam Brownback
Phone: (202) 224-6521
Fax: (202) 228-1265
Address: 303 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Deep concerns about human trafficking –- and the inadequacy of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 -– have been met by the strength and effectiveness of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007 (TVPRA), adopted by the House of Representatives on December 4 of last year.
It is critically important that the criminal justice provisions in the bill that passed the House be included in the Senate version of the bill. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act has not been an effective tool for sex trafficking prosecutions over the last seven years because the "force, fraud, or coercion" requirement is very difficult to prove.
Such prosecutions rely heavily on victim testimony, which puts a huge burden on the victims -- who are afforded little protection under the law. In addition to being under direct threat themselves, trafficking victims often have family in their country of origin under threat. This kind of terrifying coercive pressure often prevents trafficking victims from testifying.
The Senate bill should also include a strong and comprehensive provision on sex tourism; the language in the TVPRA passed by the House will greatly enhance the
capacity of the Justice Department to address sex tourism effectively. Current legislation explicitly relating to sex tourism deals only with child sex tourism. This is hugely problematic both because it is often impossible to prove the ages of the victims, who are in other countries and extraordinarily difficult to locate, and because sex tour operators prey on adults and children interchangeably.
Several states including New York and Hawaii have passed legislation explicitly criminalizing sex tour operators, but this is a crime often more effectively addressed at a federal level due to the interstate and international nature of sex tourism.