Corker Praises Foreign Relations Cmte’s Passage of Anti-Trafficking Legislation

Releases video, op-ed in support of the legislation.

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 27, 2015:

WASHINGTON – In an interview today on CNN’s “This Hour,” U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the committee’s unanimous passage ofThe End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 and highlighted END IT’s “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” by joining the movement with a red X on his hand. Corker’s bold, bipartisan legislation would create a powerful effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to help eliminate modern slavery around the globe.

“There are 27 million people all over this world today that are in bondage,” said Corker in the interview. “They are in day labor, and rug manufacturing, or brick kilns, or they are young boys in Ghana that are in the fishing world, or they are in sexual servitude. It’s hard for people to imagine that’s the case, but I’ve seen it firsthand. We have outstanding organizations that are using best practices and yet we haven’t had a central effort to deal with this appropriately. Yesterday, unanimously, we passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a bill that I believe is going to have a transformative effect on us dealing with modern slavery.”

Corker, wearing a red X on his hand and lapel in honor of END IT’s “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” added, “I think you all know that today is END IT day. END IT has done an outstanding job in raising awareness, and now it’s time for us to take action. I’m proud to be the lead sponsor of this bill. Senator Menendez and our entire committee passed it out unanimously, and I think we’re going to do something that will affect millions of people in ensuing years…Anyone who has seen it firsthand would be just inflamed over the fact that it’s a crime of opportunity. People are taking advantage of young people, old people, mothers, daughters, sons, and fathers. And we can do something about it, and we’re getting ready to, and I’m glad that today we’re celebrating the beginning of that effort.”

The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 is cosponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

In addition, a number of advocacy groups and faith-based institutions have issued support for the effort including, the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), International Justice Mission (IJM), United Way Worldwide, Freedom House, Rotary International, and Circle of Friends, Inc., among others.

Click here for a summary of the legislation and here for the full bill text.

Those interested in Corker’s efforts to end modern slavery can join the conversation online using the hashtags #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement. They also can show support by posting a photo of themselves holding up their hand marked with a red “X”. Example here.

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 27, 2015:

WASHINGTON – In an op-ed in The Tennessean today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes about the need for the United States to lead a bold vision to eradicate the insidious practice of modern slavery and his bipartisan legislation, The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, which would create a focused effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to address this widespread epidemic.

The Tennessean (Corker Op-ed): We can end human slavery once and for all

By Bob Corker
February 27, 2015

It isn’t often splashed across the front pages or the nightly news. It isn’t something everyone even realizes exists today in the 21st century. But it’s destroying lives and tearing apart families across the globe. It is modern slavery and it is more pervasive than ever in our history.

I believe we can end it.

Despite the fact that slavery and human trafficking are illegal in every corner of the world, they exist in more than 165 countries, including our own, and thrive most where enforcement is weak.

The time has come for the United States, as the beacon of freedom, to lead a bold vision for eradicating this insidious practice that preys on the most innocent among us. But to do that, we need to understand the plight of victims and why this crime goes unpunished in so many places.

Parents desperate to provide for their impoverished family are approached by a person offering to educate their young son. All that is expected of the son in return is a few hours a day working in the local fishing business. The parents accept, hoping this could be the chance for their child to live a better life.

Reality is far different. Instead of going to school, the child is forced to work 17 hours a day under dangerous conditions with limited food. Abused and malnourished, he faces harsh punishment if he tries to escape and is unlikely to ever see his family again.

This is life in the modern slave trade on Ghana’s Lake Volta and just one example of millions of stories playing out across the world.

Rather than holding a schoolbook, children in India are stacking bricks. Rather than sitting in a classroom, young girls in the Philippines are sitting in brothels forced into sexual servitude. And worldwide, men and women hoping only to better the lives of their families are stripped of their passports and trafficked for labor.

More than 27 million people currently are trapped in this multibillion-dollar slave trade industry. These are daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, living in slavery today.

According to the nongovernmental organization Free the Slaves, forced sexual servitude accounts for 26 percent of modern slavery and forced labor accounts for 74 percent of victims, 55 percent of which are women and girls.

Over the past year, our office has been working with various agencies, nongovernmental organizations and faith-based institutions to find out how we can be more effective in the fight against modern slavery. Last August, I visited Southeast Asia to get a firsthand look at this issue and meet with brave survivors. Hearing their horror stories challenges every moral fiber in you to find a way to act.

And as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I held hearings this year to shed a light on this issue and examine ways the United States can lead.

We learned that slavery is a crime of opportunity, flourishing where enforcement is lax or nonexistent. The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report found that in the three countries with more than half the world’s enslaved population, there were zero prosecutions for slavery-related crimes in 2013.

Fortunately, efforts to improve local law enforcement have shown dramatic results. In the Philippines city of Cebu, a project overseen by the International Justice Mission observed a 79 percent drop in victims of the illegal child sex trade after a significant number of arrests.

While we are beginning to see some successful methods, what is missing is a collaborative, international initiative to meet this growing challenge head-on and take our efforts to the next level.

This week, I introduced The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, bold, bipartisan legislation that would create a focused effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to eliminate modern slavery worldwide. On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill, taking us one step closer to turning awareness into real action.

This legislation would establish the End Slavery Initiative Foundation, a private, nonprofit grant-making institution to verifiably and sustainably reduce modern slavery in the areas where the fund operates. A U.S. investment of $251 million over eight years would help the initiative raise a total of $1.5 billion, of which $500 million would come from other foreign governments and $750 million from private sources. Use of U.S. funds would be restricted until the matching funds have been raised from other countries and the private sector. And results would matter. Projects would be required to meet strict benchmarks, including a 50 percent reduction in slavery within the target populations where the fund operates.

This model is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to focus resources responsibly where this crime is most prevalent.

Success abroad also can lead to success at home. Stopping perpetrators of slavery overseas can help prevent them from exporting their crime to the United States. This legislation can also complement other proposals in Congress focused on addressing human trafficking within our country, and I look forward to working with members on those efforts as well.

There are many complex problems facing this country that demand our attention, but perhaps none whose existence threatens the very concept of what it means to live in a free society. Ending modern slavery will not come easy, but we have a moral obligation to try.

Bob Corker is a Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

© 2015 www.tennessean.com. All rights reserved

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 27, 2015:

Senator Shines a Light on Modern Slavery

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released a video, “Together, We Can End It,” to shine a light on modern slavery and highlight bold, bipartisan legislation he introduced this week to combat this growing epidemic around the globe.

The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 would create a powerful effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to help eliminate modern slavery around the globe. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

In addition, a number of advocacy groups and faith-based institutions have issued support for the effort including, the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), International Justice Mission (IJM), United Way Worldwide, Freedom House, Rotary International, and Circle of Friends, Inc., among others.

Click here for a summary of the legislation and here for the full bill text.

Those interested in Corker’s efforts to end modern slavery can join the conversation online using the hashtags #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement. They also can show support by posting a photo of themselves holding up their hand marked with a red “X”. Example here.

A full transcript of the video follows.

Over 27 million people are enslaved today across the globe.

That’s more than four times the population of my home state of Tennessee.

Modern slavery comes in many forms, and it preys on women and children the most.

Rather than holding a schoolbook, children in India are stacking bricks.

Rather than sitting in a classroom, young girls in the Philippines are sitting in brothels, forced into sexual servitude.

In Ghana, young boys are forced into a life of slavery on fishing boats.

Over 27 million people around the world today.

Daughters. Sons. Mothers. Fathers.

It’s time to shine a light on the problem.

And it’s time to turn awareness into action.

Together, we can end it.

Visit corker.senate.gov to learn more about The End Modern Slavery Initiative.