US: Wellstone Introduces Bill to Combat Human Rights Abuse:Global Trafficking of Women and Children

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Subject: US: Wellstone Introduces Bill to Combat Human Rights Abuse:Global Trafficking of Women and Children
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 14:18:55 EDT


As with the other post, I just got this!

melanie..

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Jim Farrell or
April 12, 2000 Andrew
McDonald 202/224-8440
Wellstone Introduces Bill to Combat Human Rights Abuse:Global
Trafficking of Women and Children

Legislation Targets Dark Side of Economic Globalization, Sexual
Exploitation and Forced Labor

U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), a member of the Foreign Relations
Committee, today introduced comprehensive legislation that takes on
one of the more pernicious and growing violations of global human
rights: the trafficking of human beings, particularly women and
children, for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. The
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 strikes at a domestic and
international problem left too long unaddressed. According to a
recent report on trafficking by the CIA, as many as 50,000 women and
children each year are brought into the United States and forced to
work as prostitutes, forced laborers or servants. Worldwide,
trafficking affects up to 2 million persons.

"Trafficking in human beings is not just some problem over there --
it's a problem over here. This gross human rights abuse-and we must
acknowledge trafficking in persons as the horrific abuse that it
is-is a worldwide problem that must be confronted here in our country
even as we continue to fight it on the international front. We too
must do our part. We need this bill enacted into law this year,"
Wellstone said.

The Wellstone bill aims to prevent trafficking in persons, provide
protection and assistance to those who have been trafficked, and
severely punish those responsible for trafficking. It will ensure
that the State Department and U.S. law enforcement agencies are fully
engaged in the issue, that our immigration laws do not encourage
rapid deportation of victims, and that trafficking victims receive
needed services and safe shelter. In addition, the bill toughens
criminal penalties, and provides substantial resources to programs
assisting victims at home and abroad.

  "I cannot emphasize enough: trafficking in persons is a human rights
problem that requires a human rights response. And yet, too often
governments have all but ignored the victims, and let the
traffickers go free. Too many of these women are treated as
criminals, and not as the survivors of gross human rights abuses that
they are," Wellstone said.

Despite increasing governmental and international interest,
trafficking in women and children continues to be one of the darkest
aspects of the globalization of the world economy, becoming more
insidious and more widespread over the past decade. It is a
contemporary manifestation of slavery. The victims come from Mexico,
the Phillippines, Thailand, Russia, the Ukraine and other countries
in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Wellstone was the first legislator to recognize this escalating abuse
of human rights, just as the U.S. government and international
organizations were beginning to identify trafficking in human beings
as a serious international problem. Wellstone has been working on
the issue for several years, meeting with trafficking victims, care
providers and advocates from around the world. Having introduced the
first piece of legislation on the issue in the Senate in 1998, he
continued his efforts by launching the first bill in Congress to
address all aspects of the human rights violation last year.

Wellstone hopes to have the Senate Foreign Relations Committee act
on the bill soon, and to bring it to the floor in the coming months.
A similar bill has been drafted by members of the House International
Relations Committee, and is expected to be acted upon by the full
House later this Spring. ###

Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
__________________
Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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