U.S. Senate Approves Resolution to Establish National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Month in January
-Month-long observance intended to enhance fight against human trafficking -
Dec 22 2009
Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a resolution by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Sam Brownback (R-Ka.) to observe “National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Month,” from January 1 to February 1.
S. RES. 382 is intended to raise awareness about human trafficking – a form of modern-day slavery. This Resolution recognizes the month of January as significant for modern slavery and human trafficking. January 1st is the anniversary of the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation and February 1st is the anniversary of the date that President Abraham Lincoln signed the joint resolution sending the 13th Amendment to the States for ratification.
In addition, it recognizes that January 11th is a day that many have chosen to commemorate human trafficking. In the 110th Congress, Senator Feinstein sponsored a Concurrent Resolution that passed the Senate supporting January 11th as a “National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness.”
Human trafficking is a pervasive global crime, with nearly 1 million people trafficked across international borders every year – roughly 80 percent of them are women and children -- according to the U.S. State Department.
Victims are forced to work in sweatshops, prostitution rings, farm labor, private homes and other enterprises. Traffickers use many techniques to keep their victims enslaved – including fear, isolation and threats of violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It is crucial that we as a nation work to eliminate human trafficking. Victims of this horrific crime are often the most vulnerable members of society, and most are women and children,” said Senator Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Human traffickers use force, threats and coercion to make their victims believe they have no other choice but to work for their captors.
“Human trafficking is a serious problem in California. From 1998 to 2003, more than 500 people from 18 countries were ensnared in 57 forced labor operations throughout California. It is very likely there were far more cases because victims of this crime live in fear and often avoid law enforcement.
To effectively prevent and prosecute slavery and trafficking, we must ensure that those people who are most likely to come in contact with vulnerable populations are aware of this frequently hidden crime.”
"Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of human trafficking,” said Sen. Cornyn , a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “This resolution will help bring awareness to the fight against organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex. I am proud to partner with my colleagues on this important bipartisan effort."
“I would like to thank Senator Feinstein for introducing this resolution that draws attention to a systemic international problem,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. “We honor the spirit of this resolution year-round by taking efforts to stop trafficking through steps like identification of perpetrators and their victims. Identification needs to be followed by prosecutions for perpetrators and assistance for victims in rebuilding their lives. This requires societal commitment and action by all of us.”
“America symbolizes the ideals of freedom and democracy and as Americans, it is incumbent upon us to shed light on human rights abuses throughout the world,” Senator Brownback said. “Nowhere is that more apparent than within the practice of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. This resolution serves as a stirring reminder that we must continue to be ever vigilant in protecting the human rights of all people.”
Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a companion resolution in the House.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 made human trafficking a federal crime, investigated primarily by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 expanded the tools necessary for law enforcement and included Senator Feinstein’s Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act to provide special protections for trafficked children.
“Resolved, that the Senate supports:
- The goals and ideals of observing the National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Month from January 1 through February 1, 2010 to recognize the vital role that the people of the United States have in ending modern slavery;
- Marking this observance with appropriate programs and activities culminating in the observance on February 1 of National Freedom Day, as described in section 124 of title 36, United States Code; and
- All other efforts to raise awareness of and opposition to human trafficking.”