Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin
Ranking Member - Helsinki Commission

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Chairman Hunter and Chairman Smith, let me take this moment to thank you for bringing the Committee and Commission Members together for a joint Issue Forum on an important subject. The Helsinki Commission and Congress have devoted substantial attention to the issue of human trafficking over the past several years, but this forum’s focus on the specific connection between human trafficking and the military is one of first impression at a congressional event.

As a Member of the Helsinki Commission and as an officer of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, I have supported efforts to raise awareness of the human rights abuses implicit in human trafficking. As Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, I addressed the crime of human trafficking this past July at the Assembly’s Annual Session in Edinburgh. In the Parliamentary Assembly’s Edinburgh Declaration, the Committee called upon OSCE participating States to continue their work on effective strategies, reinforced through legislation, to combat corruption and organized crime, including trafficking in human beings. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Assembly to develop strategies that we, as legislators, can pursue both in the Assembly and in our own national legislatures to enhance our efforts against corruption, organized crime, and trafficking throughout the OSCE region.

I have also worked with Chairman Smith to promote the adoption of an anti-trafficking policy by NATO. Last February, after traveling to Greece to discuss efforts to combat trafficking with government officials and parliamentarians, Chairman Smith and I also traveled to NATO headquarters in Brussels. We met with the U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nick Burns and other representatives to NATO, as well as NATO commanders to urge that NATO adopt an anti-trafficking policy for NATO-led forces. In June, at the NATO Summit meeting, Allied leaders endorsed a "zero tolerance" policy for forces in NATO operations to help combat trafficking in persons.

The past several years have seen great progress in the adoption of anti-trafficking policies by governments, including within militaries. The challenge before us now is for implementation of these various policies. I look forward to hearing the views of our distinguished witnesses on how DOD is proceeding in this regard.