Modern-Day Slavery; Human Trafficking's Terrible Toll

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark P. Lagon, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Last June, federal prosecutors won an important case: a millionaire perfume maker in Islip, N.Y. was convicted and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for committing a crime - human trafficking - that most people had never heard of just five years ago. That crime is the modern-day equivalent of slavery. In this case, the victims were two Indonesian women who were beaten, starved and never allowed out of the mansion where they worked as domestic servants.

The same month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice released the eighth annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report assessing 170 countries, a report widely considered the most authoritative account of international efforts to end modern-day slavery.

Since 2003, often based on U.S. recommendation, foreign governments have passed over 150 acts creating or amending anti-trafficking legislation to cover this crime against human freedom which is also a global health threat and a threat to national security. At home, since 2003, 39 states have approved anti-trafficking statutes to combat this despicable crime.

Across the span of his presidency, at home and abroad, George W. Bush has led U. S. government efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery.

It is a fight that has received consistent support from the White House and bipartisan backing from Congress. It is a legacy of achievement that should make Americans proud. Taking aggressive action at home is essential if the United States is to be credible and urge other nations to do more. Prostituted children are considered victims of human trafficking under U.S. law. Because U.S. law enforcement is now giving special, targeted attention to end the prostitution of children, I am able to urge other countries to do the same, especially in Latin America and Asia.

Through the Innocence Lost Initiative, a joint federal and state effort sponsored by the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 400 children have been rescued from prostitution. Since 2001, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorneys' offices prosecuted 156 trafficking in persons cases, securing 342 convictions and guilty pleas. More than three times as many human- trafficking cases were filed and more than three times as many defendants were convicted in 2007 compared to 2001. …