FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 10/06/2010
Human trafficking conference at Capitol sheds light on "modern day slavery"
AUSTIN – The 1st Annual International Conference on Human Trafficking began this morning at the state Capitol with a series of prominent speakers expressing a similar theme: human trafficking is prevalent worldwide, Texas is a key hub through which victims are transported, and a collaborative approach among law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad is the key to breaking up traffickers’ networks.
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (Houston), a key Texas organizer of the effort to raise awareness of the atrocities of human trafficking, welcomed conference participants. During her opening remarks, Thompson expressed a desire to see the legal community, law enforcement and the Texas Legislature work together during the upcoming legislative session to improve Texas’ approach to victims’ assistance and the pursuit and prosecution of traffickers.
"I am proud to join with Representative Senfronia Thompson in giving voice to victims of the tragic crime of human trafficking,” said Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. “Next session, the Texas House will continue to work in collaboration with law enforcement and human rights groups to find a way to end this inhumane crime."
“Human trafficking is a form of slavery,” Thompson said. “Traffickers prey upon women, children and the most vulnerable among us, stealing their money and threatening their families to ensure cooperation. Human trafficking inflicts irrevocable harm upon its victims and our communities. We must stamp out human trafficking immediately, aggressively, and completely.
“We need to raise the profile of this issue among the higher education community, ensuring that our educational system is producing professionals capable of joining the fight, and we need to help law enforcement and prosecutors by giving them better tools to attack traffickers directly. I look forward to continuing this discussion as we consider measures we can implement at the state level during the upcoming legislative session.”
Citing the process through which victims are lied to, robbed, then delivered into the hands of abusers often located thousands of miles from the victims’ homes, Thompson drew attention to the difficulties of gathering the information necessary to stop traffickers’ vast network of conspirators.
“During the next legislative session and beyond,” Thompson said, “we must pursue opportunities to sharpen the tools with which investigators and prosecutors pursue traffickers, and we must increase public awareness, ensuring that capable professionals, like victims services providers, are properly equipped to help all victims who need assistance.”
Among the conference participants was Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca of the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Representatives of Ukraine and the Philippines also participated.
Additional information regarding the conference can be found at www.peoplesunitedsummit.org.
Colleen Tran at (832) 385-1655