WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives have voted to reauthorise three bills to address the issue of human trafficking both inside and outside the US.
The development was hailed by US President Donald Trump and rights activists.
"My administration is focused on ending the horrific practice of human trafficking, and the three bills the House of Representatives passed today are important steps forward,"
Trump said in a statement soon after the laws were passed by the House.
Since taking office, Trump said he has met with courageous survivors, non-profit groups, and faith leaders who are devoting tremendous energy to raising awareness about human trafficking.
The three bill passed by the House were Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act, and Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act.
"I am hopeful that the Senate will take up and pass these three bills as soon as possible and I look forward to my continued work with the Congress on this important issue," Trump said.
The House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world.
"It's a sinister enterprise that strikes at the very heart of our communities," he said.
"This is truly a national problem, and that means it's going to take a national effort to solve it. We want law enforcement to have every possible resource to protect our citizens. And we want to give real support—and a voice—to the victims of these awful crimes," Ryan said.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said there is simply no way to overstate the horrific nature of enticement, kidnapping, and human trafficking.
"It is an absolute priority of President Trump and the Department of Justice to make those that seek to profit off the exploitation of others feel the weight of swift and certain justice. I am therefore extremely encouraged by the actions of Congress today in passing legislation aimed at stopping this scourge and commend all those that supported these bills," Sessions said.
Describing human trafficking as a modern day slavery, Congressman Ed Royce said traffickers around the world abuse and exploit millions – especially women and girls – for commercial gain.
According to credible estimates, more than 20 million people are currently victimised by sex trafficking and forced labour.
It is a coercive, multi-billion dollar industry that destroys families and communities, strengthens criminal networks, and tramples human dignity, he said.
Royce, who is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said this plague is global, and is not limited to the developing world.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said human trafficking isn’t just another issue to address.
"It is a crime against humanity and a form of human slavery that we have no right to ignore. This House, along with Ivanka Trump, and the White House have made ending human trafficking a consistent priority," he said.
"Today, we passed another three bills to fight against human trafficking by aiding victims and detecting and preventing the crime. With these pieces of legislation, the House has now passed 16 anti-human trafficking bills that we urge the Senate to take up and send to President Trump’s desk as soon as possible," McCarthy said.