Pope Francis Urges Congress to Combat Modern Slavery
"Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus." – Pope Francis
Pope Francis spoke these words from the Capitol last week, urging for more to be done to combat the scourge of human trafficking. Estimates indicate that nearly 21 million people fall victim to this criminal epidemic today, at a profit of $150 billion annually for traffickers. These facts should be part of creating the social consensus around the issue of modern slavery, and should drive efforts to create new policies Pope Francis rightfully suggests we need.
The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 would be such a policy. Engineered to pool together support and investment from the U.S. government, foreign governments, and the private sector, the legislation would create a much-needed resource called the Global Fund to bolster law enforcement in key geographic areas. The proposed $1.5 billion fund commits $250 million from the U.S. government, contingent on raising the remaining funding from foreign governments and private entities over a seven year period.
The Global Fund would be a substantial contribution in the fight against modern slavery, enabling governments, law enforcement, and NGOs to more effectively challenge traffickers. Introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), it should be passed as soon as possible.
The Pontiff continued his campaign against human trafficking at the United Nations General Assembly, drawing attention to the connection between extreme poverty and this criminal enterprise. Rightly so: traffickers typically take advantage of those living in poverty by leading them into labor trafficking, which makes up 68 percent of all trafficking cases worldwide, entrapping victims into brutal and dehumanizing situations.
The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 is essential to effectively combat human trafficking. Combined with bolstered efforts by law enforcement, continued work by victim-service organizations, and responsible practices by business leaders, the act can serve as part of multi-tiered approach to ensure that the Pope's vision of a future free from man's subjugation of man becomes a thing of the past.