The fourth annual Trafficking in Persons Report reflects the growing concern of the President, Members of Congress, and the public over the serious human rights, health, and security implications of human trafficking around the world.
One way this concern has been expressed is through the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (TVPRA), which amends the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Among other things, the TVPRA strengthens the tools U.S. law enforcement authorities use to prosecute traffickers and enhances assistance to victims of trafficking. It also requires the Department of State to scrutinize more closely the efforts of governments to prosecute traffickers as well as evaluate whether our international partners have achieved appreciable progress over the past year in eliminating trafficking in persons.
This report represents the collective work of our embassies, as well as foreign governments and NGO partners throughout the world who are committed to ending the scourge of slavery. We intend to use it as a guide in our efforts in the coming year to combat the trafficking of persons around the globe through improved laws, regulation, monitoring, enforcement, and the protection of victims.
This year's report focuses more attention on sex tourism and the demand it creates for children exploited by traffickers in commercial sex settings. The United States plays a leading role in fighting sex tourism by identifying and prosecuting our own nationals who travel abroad to engage in commercial sex with children. Through the PROTECT Act of 2003, American pedophiles who prey on foreign children around the globe for commercial sex are no longer beyond the reach of U.S. prosecution. I call on like-minded governments to join in the effort to prosecute these pedophiles through the application of similar laws.
The trafficking of people is, as President Bush stated at the opening of the UN General Assembly in September 2003, "a special kind of evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable."
By reading this report, you contribute to the global awareness of the phenomenon of modern-day slavery. Together we can bring an end to the shadow it has cast on too many lives.
Colin L. Powell