US Bishops Laud Anti-Trafficking Law

Urge Quick Assistance for Child Victims

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 23, 2009 ( A representative of the U.S. bishops’ conference testified before a congressional committee about the evils of human trafficking, and suggested practical ways to protect children from this crime.

Anastasia Brown, the conference’s refugee program director, testified last week before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Terrorism of the House Homeland Security Committee.

A press release noted that the conference “applauded enactment of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act,” signed into law by President George Bush in December.

Brown stated that “the issue of trafficking in human persons is perhaps one of the most important human rights issue facing the world community today.”

She reported that at least 700,000 persons are trafficked annually within or across international boundaries, mostly from less-developed countries such as India, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and throughout Africa.

“Their destinations span the globe,” she said, “they often end up in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Japan, Canada and the United States.”

Referring to a report by the U.S. State Department, Brown noted the estimated 17,500 human beings that are trafficked into the United States yearly to work in the sex trade or as slave labor.

She added, “Women and children have been forced to work in prostitution and child pornography rings, while men, women, and children have been forced into different types of manual labor, without pay or protection.”

She exhorted the government to implement the law’s provisions immediately, especially regarding the child victims of trafficking. The law would screen unaccompanied children at the borders of contiguous countries as possible victims, and would provide immediate assistance for them once identified as such.

Brown concluded, “Working together, the U.S. Catholic bishops strongly believe that we can drastically reduce, if not eliminate, this horrific crime against humanity.”

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