Owens Leads Anti-Trafficking Push

WASHINGTON Representatives Burgess Owens (UT-04) and Hank Johnson (GA-04) introduced the Preventing Child Trafficking Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen collaboration between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat child trafficking. The bill was first introduced in the Senate by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) on January 31, 2024. 

“Human trafficking is a deplorable crime of exploitation that robs individuals of their freedom for personal profit, and we must do more to protect vulnerable children from this evil,” said Rep. Owens. “I am proud to lead the Preventing Child Trafficking Act, aimed at enhancing federal collaboration, improving life-saving response efforts, and implementing preventative measures to eradicate this multi-billion-dollar industry and keep our communities safe.”

“We must ensure that our children are safe from trafficking and other forms of exploitation,” said Rep. Johnson. “That is why I am proud to co-lead this bill which directs the Department of Justice to implement the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations for interoffice collaboration and performance goals. Implementing these recommendations will better equip our government to combat the scourge of child trafficking.”

“The federal government can and must do more to prevent children from falling prey to the evils of human trafficking. By strengthening collaboration between federal agencies, our bill aims to more effectively prevent future instances of trafficking, prosecute criminals and safeguard vulnerable children,” said Sen. Grassley.

“Child trafficking in Georgia and nationwide is a crisis. That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan bill to strengthen federal protections for vulnerable children and increase support for victims of trafficking,” said Sen. Ossoff. 

Background: 

The Preventing Child Trafficking Act directs the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) to implement anti-trafficking recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, released in 2023, underscores the importance of establishing a dedicated collaboration mechanism solely focused on combating child trafficking, implementing performance goals for programs, and enhancing objectives to effectively address these crimes and support survivors.

The bill is endorsed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). 

Deseret News: America’s dark underbelly: Rep. Owens tackles child trafficking

Full legislative text is available here

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