The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCEPA), an assembly of over 300 lawmakers from 57 countries in Europe and North American adopted “Implementing Trafficking-Free Communities,” a comprehensive resolution to combat human trafficking sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith, during their 27th annual session yesterday in Berlin.
Based upon best practices developed in the United States under Smith’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the resolution encourages governments to implement multiple best practices simultaneously to significantly reduce trafficking in a community over the course of a year.
16 million people are exploited in labor trafficking, 4.8 million people are exploited in sex trafficking, and 4 million are exploited in state-imposed trafficking, such as prison labor, forced military service, and forced communal service, according to the International Labor Organization.
“Women and girls are disproportionately affected by human trafficking,” said Smith. “Women and girls account for 99 percent of trafficking victims in the commercial sex industry and 58 percent in labor trafficking—this is simply unacceptable in any community.”
“A whole of community approach entails multi-sectoral efforts, including simultaneous action by schools, police, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, shelter services, businesses, houses of worship, and media,” said Smith. “When representatives of various government and civil society groups and professions come together, for example on a Task Force that meets regularly, and for a strategy that is integrated, victims win and traffickers lose.”
Specifically, the Smith resolution encourages each of the 57 countries to:
- Create joint task forces and simultaneous action by schools, police, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, shelter services, businesses, houses of worship, and media;
- Train all those who are likely to be in contact with trafficking victims—including school, airline, bus, train, taxi, judicial, and law enforcement employees—to recognize and respond appropriately to trafficking victims;
- Establish a unified trafficking hotline for use throughout Europe by airline, train, bus, and taxi employees who identify trafficking victims;
- Act to discourage the practice of sexual tourism by known sex offenders traveling to Europe, to the United States, and elsewhere, by keeping registries of individuals who have previously committed sex crimes against children and sending and receiving alerts on traveling offenders;
- Implement previous commitments, such as prosecuting classified ad website owners who profit from advertising children for sex trafficking and allowing trafficking victims to sue website owners who advertised them;
- Prioritize demand reduction as part of an integrated strategy against trafficking.
“My resolution tracks the progress we have made against trafficking, as well as charts the way forward,” said Smith.
In addition to Smith’s efforts on human trafficking, he sponsored and passed an amendment to help fight the scourge of anti-Semitism and, along with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), met with Russian law makers to discuss election interference and human rights concerns, including human trafficking. Russia received a failing grade in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, required by Rep. Smith’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.