Members of Congress urge DOJ to fully implement human trafficking law
Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX-02) , along with Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Ann Wagner (R-MO-02), and Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), held a joint press conference May 25 to call on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fully implement the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) of 2015. Nearly a year after JVTA became law, the Members expressed concern that the DOJ has yet to implement the entirety of the law. Lack of implementation would thwart Congressional efforts to combat modern day slavery.
In addition to the press conference, Poe, Wagner, Maloney, and Beatty sent a bipartisan letter signed by 37 members of Congress, to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging DOJ to immediately act and shed light on several areas of delayed implementation, including the prosecution of buyers and populating the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund.
“JVTA clarifies that those who buy sex from trafficking victims are human traffickers, can and should be punished under federal law, and are subject to the same penalties as sellers,” said Poe. “JVTA has done a lot to change the mindset of people in this country. But we need the law to be fully implemented by all the agencies charged with executing the law including DOJ, HHS, and DHS. We anxiously await the response to our letter. A society will be judged by how it treats the most vulnerable.”
“Whether victims are manipulated online or abducted off the streets, we have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable from this form of modern day slavery,” said Wagner. “I am grateful for the steps the DOJ has taken thus far to implement portions of the JVTA. However, there is more work ahead of all of us, and as an advocate, I refuse to pass this law and just walk away. The DOJ must implement every portion of JVTA, including my legislation within the package — the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act.”
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and it is happening every day in every state, generating billions of dollars in illegal profits by stripping women, men and children of their freedoms, of their dignity, and for some, their lives. And, until last year, our laws were backwards. Instead of going after the traffickers our laws were punishing the victims,” said Maloney. “That’s why passing the JVTA was a milestone in the campaign to end human trafficking. I am proud to join my colleagues in this call to the Department of Justice to fully implement this landmark legislation that will bring traffickers to justice and justice to victims.”
“I consider the passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act to be one of my proudest moments in Congress. As we mark the Act’s one year anniversary, several provisions have yet to be implemented,” said Beatty. “I join my congressional colleagues in calling on the Department of Justice to expedite implementation of outstanding JVTA provisions to help eradicate human trafficking and to provide services for victims.”
The members expressed their gratitude for the support and advice of: Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation; Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International; Courtney’s House; The Covering House; Crisis Aid International; Demand Abolition; ECPAT-USA; Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now; Equality NOW; National Children’s Alliance; Rights4Girls; Second Life Chattanooga and Shared Hope International.
This article was first published on The Lake Houston Observer 's website on May 25, 2016.