My last Post on current IML bill with full history of all past bills:
By Dennis Romboy
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes urged Congress on Thursday to get tougher on human trafficking worldwide, particularly by passing an international Megan's Law to protect children from predators.
Human trafficking, he said, is one of the most insidious but least understood and recognized crimes.
"As a father of six children, I want to change that," Reyes told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Human Rights in
Victims are forced into hard labor, military servitude and suicide bombings, recruited for terrorism or killed to harvest their organs on the black market, he said. But the overwhelming majority are forced into sex slavery or sex exploitation.
Reyes and Tim Ballard, founder and CEO of Utah-based Operation Underground Railroad, testified about the evils of human trafficking and called on lawmakers to pass laws and provide more resources to combat it.
"The children are desperately waiting for us. I know. I have seen them," said Ballard, a former Homeland Security agent.
Both Utahns lobbied for a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the subcommittee chairman, that would require notification of foreign governments when an American-registered sex offender is traveling abroad. It also calls for the president to work out agreements with other countries to inform the
about the travel plans of foreign sex criminals. United States
Reyes said an international Megan's Law makes sense because it would allow law enforcement worldwide to be more vigilant about preventing sex crimes against children.
The legislation is patterned after what is known around the country as Megan's Law, which requires law enforcement to make information about registered sex offenders available to the public. It has passed the House three times, most recently in January, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.
Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee said they look forward to working with their Senate colleagues to pass the bill.
Human trafficking is a crisis that must be addressed at all levels, both domestically and internationally, Hatch said.
“Child sex exploitation is a tragedy that we must work together to oppose, and it is especially offensive when wealthy Americans travel abroad to engage in so-called sex tourism," Lee said.
Sex tourism is expanding "exponentially" around the world, especially in Latin America and
Asia, Rosi Orozco, president
of the Commission United Against Human Trafficking, told the panel.
A high percentage of those traveling abroad for sex parties are Americans. Reyes said he's embarrassed that Americans, estimated to account for 80 percent of sex tourists, are driving the demand. About 98 percent of victims are women and girls.
"This is an American problem no matter where on the earth the child victim happens to be," Ballard said.
Reyes made a secret trip to
last October with Operation Underground Railroad to rescue child slaves just
weeks before being elected attorney general. The nonprofit organization works
with governments around the world to fight child trafficking. Colombia
Members of the group set up a sting by posing as wealthy investors in a cartel's plan to build a child sex hotel on an island off the coast of
. To celebrate the deal, the
traffickers would bring the young girls to the island. Cartagena
Reyes, who speaks Spanish, posed as a translator and bodyguard for the lead investor. He said he saw up close the horror the girls faced as the were offered up "as if they were desserts."
"The fear and the helplessness in their eyes is something that I will never forget," he said.
After some tense moments with the traffickers, the group freed 54 children ages 10 to 16. Combined with two other undercover operations in
that day, the group
rescued 120 girls and boys, Ballard said. Colombia
Asked by committee members what became of the children, Reyes said some were returned to their families but in some cases it was their families that sold them in the first place. Officials, he said, do everything they can to put them in a safe place where they can get their lives back.
"The last thing we want to do is liberate them and set them up for failure," he said.
Victim presses Congress to fight child sex trafficking, May 14, 2015
By Cheryl Wetzstein
A young Mexican woman — who said she had “no other identity” beyond that of a sex object until she was rescued from a sex-trafficking gang — urged Congress to do much more to stop this growing criminal enterprise.
For four years as a teen prostitute, “I was forced to serve every kind of fetish imaginable to more than 40,000 clients,” Karla Jacinto, 22, told a Thursday hearing before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on
Africa, global health, global human rights and
Many of those clients “were foreigners visiting my city looking to have sexual interactions with minors like me,” said Ms. Jacinto, who said she was befriended by a pimp at age 12 and only escaped her sex-trafficking masters when one of her “regular” clients decided to help her.
Such testimony is essential to supporting H.R. 515, known as the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and subcommittee chairman.
The law — which has passed the House and is under consideration in the Senate — would create the
Center as part of the U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement agency, to capture travel information from
child-sex offenders and notify countries when such people are planning to
travel to their jurisdictions. U.S.
The bill also asks the White House to craft deals with countries so the
U.S. can be informed when convicted foreign sex
offenders seek entry here, and when citizens are arrested,
convicted, sentenced or imprisoned for a child sex-offense in those countries. U.S.
“A primary way to fight child trafficking is to fight demand created by sex tourists,” said Mr. Smith. Data show that “registered sex offenders are traveling disproportionately to countries where children are trafficked for sex,” he said, adding that a “deeply disturbing” 2010 Government Accountability Office report found that at least 4,500
passports were issued to
registered sex offenders in 2008. U.S.
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes testified to his part in a sting operation that rescued some 120 boys and girls in
from “child sex parties.” Colombia
Playing the role of a bodyguard for an “American buyer,” Mr. Reyes said he witnessed “the horror and hopelessness” in the eyes of girls, aged 10 to 16, who were “paraded in front of us like a pet to buy or a dessert to sample.”
Sex trafficking — which is estimated to account for 80 percent of the world’s 20 million to 30 million “modern-day slaves” — is a growing international criminal enterprise, trailing only drug trafficking, and is believed to involve 2 million children worldwide, Mr. Reyes said.
Sex traffickers “are used to catering to Americans. They are used to selling children to Americans. This is an American problem, no matter where on earth the child victim happens to be,” said Timothy Ballard, founder and chief executive of the nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad (OUR).
The proposed International Megan’s Law bill permits new ways to attack this problem, said Mr. Ballard, who founded OUR precisely because it permitted him and his colleagues more freedom to act than when he worked as an anti-trafficking federal agent with the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Ballard added that the
“Megan’s Law” — named for a girl who was raped and murdered by a convicted
sex offender who lived nearby, unbeknownst to her family and community —
encourages states to protect children by identifying sex offenders and notifying
communities about their whereabouts. “Why would we not offer this same
mechanism to our friends overseas?” he said. New
“Most perpetrators are coming from the
she said, citing a report from End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography &
Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes or ECPAT. Germany
For instance, Tlaxcala, an inland, central state in
is home to many “bands of human traffickers” who “are very well known for
importing their victims to the ,” Ms. Orozco said. Our countries
should work together “to put a stop to the atrocity of human trafficking in all
its forms.” United