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H.R. 2283 (113th): Human Trafficking Prioritization Act

The text of the bill below is as of Jun 6, 2013 (Introduced).


I

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2283

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 6, 2013

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To prioritize the fight against human trafficking within the Department of State according to congressional intent in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 without increasing the size of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act .

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

The International Labor Organization estimates that nearly 21,000,000 people are subjected to modern slavery around the world at any given time and that the majority of the enslaved are women and girls.

(2)

Congress authorized the creation of a Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Public Law 106–386) in order to directly assist the Secretary of State in his or her effort to coordinate a United States Government interagency response to domestic and international trafficking in persons.

(3)

The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons monitors trafficking worldwide and produces the online and printed versions of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which is Congress’ primary resource for human trafficking reporting, analysis, and recommendations on the United States and 186 countries around the world.

(4)

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report contains tier rankings of each country on which it reports, and these tier rankings have become an essential diplomatic tool for promoting protection for victims, prevention of trafficking, and prosecution of perpetrators.

(5)

Some countries have openly stated, and many others have confided, that dramatic improvements in the country’s human trafficking record were directly related to avoidance of a low tier ranking in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

(6)

Ambassador Mark Lagon, former Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (2007–2009), testified before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives on April 18, 2013, that [T]he State Department does a tremendous job in producing a report which tells it like it is, offering objective rankings. Yet at times it pulls punches, typically due to the urging of regional specialists rather than the TIP Office’s dedicated experts on trafficking..

(7)

Ambassador John Miller, former Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (2002–2006), recently stated that, Upgrading the status of the Office to a Bureau will not create additional bureaucracy—it will simply give JTIP and the Ambassador-at-large who heads it equal standing with regional and functional bureaus at the State Department. That standing is absolutely essential for the issue to remain a priority, especially when multiple U.S. interests are engaged..

(8)

The tier ranking process authorized by Congress in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 has been in some instances compromised by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking subordinate stature within the Department of State.

(9)

It is essential for Congress and the Secretary of State to be accurately informed regarding United States and foreign country successes and failures in the fight against human trafficking.

(10)

The diplomatic power and credibility of the Trafficking in Persons Report is based on rigorous scholarship and scrupulous application of the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and is undermined by political, rather than factual, tier rankings.

(11)

Strong and effective anti-slavery policy requires that officials from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking have equal hierarchical standing with State Department regional bureaus and direct access to the Secretary of State.

3.

Sense of Congress

It is the Sense of Congress that—

(1)

the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking of the Department of State will be more effective in carrying out duties mandated by Congress in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 if the Office status is changed to that of a Bureau within the Department hierarchy;

(2)

the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking will be more effective in carrying out duties mandated by Congress in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 if the Office is headed by an Assistant Secretary with direct access to the Secretary of State, rather than an Ambassador-at-Large; and

(3)

the change in status from Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking with an Ambassador-at-Large to a Bureau led by an Assistant Secretary can be accomplished without increasing the number of personnel or the budget of the current Office.

4.

Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons

(a)

In general

Section 105(e) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7103(e)) is amended—

(1)

in the heading, by striking Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking and inserting Bureau to Combat Trafficking in Persons ;

(2)

in paragraph (1)

(A)

in the first sentence, by striking Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking and inserting Bureau to Combat Trafficking in Persons ;

(B)

in the second sentence,—

(i)

by striking Office and inserting Bureau ;

(ii)

by striking Director and inserting Assistant Secretary of State; and

(iii)

by striking , with the rank of Ambassador-at-Large; and

(C)

in the third sentence, by striking Director and inserting Assistant Secretary of State ;

(D)

in the fourth sentence, by striking Director and inserting Assistant Secretary of State ;

(E)

in the fifth sentence, by striking Director and inserting Assistant Secretary of State ; and

(F)

in the sixth sentence, by striking Office and inserting Bureau; and

(3)

in paragraph (2)

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking and inserting Bureau to Combat Trafficking in Persons ; and

(B)

in subparagraph (B), by striking Director and inserting Assistant Secretary of State.

(b)

Conforming amendments

(1)

In general

Any reference in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 or in any other Act to—

(A)

the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking shall be deemed to be a reference to the Bureau to Combat Trafficking in Persons; and

(B)

the Director or Ambassador-at-Large of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons shall be deemed to be a reference to the Assistant Secretary directing the Bureau to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

(2)

State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956

Section 1(c)(1) of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 ( 22 U.S.C. 2651a(c)(1) ) is amended, in the first sentence, by striking 24 and inserting 25.