Text: H.Res.55 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)

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Introduced in House (01/11/2007)

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[Congressional Bills 110th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H. Res. 55 Introduced in House (IH)]

  1st Session
H. RES. 55

 Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding modern-
                              day slavery.



                            January 11, 2007

Ms. Lee (for herself and Mr. Lewis of Georgia) submitted the following 
   resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs



 Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding modern-
                              day slavery.

Whereas modern-day slavery means the status or condition of a person over whom 
        any power attaching to the right of ownership or control is exercised by 
        means of exploitation through involuntary servitude;
Whereas forms of modern-day slavery include chattel slavery, human trafficking, 
        indentured or bonded labor, forced labor, forced marriage, and the worst 
        forms of child labor or other similar means;
Whereas the United Kingdom outlawed slavery in 1807, recognizing that ``the 
        African Slave Trade, and all manner of dealing and trading in the 
        Purchase, Sale, Barter, or Transfer of Slaves, or of Persons intended to 
        be sold, transferred, used, or dealt with as Slaves, practiced or 
        carried on, in, at, to or from any Part of the Coast or Countries of 
        Africa, shall be, and the same is hereby utterly abolished, prohibited, 
        and declared to be unlawful'';
Whereas the United States outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude in 1865, 
        recognizing that those evil institutions must be abolished;
Whereas Article 1 of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of 
        Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to 
        Slavery states that ``[e]ach of the States Parties to this Convention 
        shall take all practicable and necessary legislative and other measures 
        to bring about progressively and as soon as possible the complete 
        abolition or abandonment of the following institutions and practices, 
        where they still exist and whether or not they are covered by the 
        definition of slavery contained in Article 1 of the Slavery Convention 
        signed at Geneva on 25 September 1926'';
Whereas Article 1 of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of 
        Slavery further states that such institutions and practices of slavery 

    (1) debt bondage;

    (2) serfdom;

    (3) ``[a]ny institution or practice whereby: (i) [a] woman, without the 
right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a 
consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any 
other person or group; or (ii) [t]he husband of a woman, his family, or his 
clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or 
otherwise; or (iii) [a] woman on the death of her husband is liable to be 
inherited by another person;''; and

    (4) ``[a]ny institution or practice whereby a child or young person 
under the age of 18 years, is delivered by either or both of his natural 
parents or by his guardian to another person, whether for reward or not, 
with a view to the exploitation of the child or young person or of his 

Whereas Article 6 of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of 
        Slavery states that ``[t]he act of enslaving another person or of 
        inducing another person to give himself or a person dependent upon him 
        into slavery, or of attempting these acts, or being accessory thereto, 
        or being a party to a conspiracy to accomplish any such acts, shall be a 
        criminal offence under the laws of the States Parties to this Convention 
        and persons convicted thereof shall be liable to punishment'';
Whereas in the 21st century as many as 27 million people are suffering as slaves 
        throughout the world and in the United States;
Whereas modern-day slavery strips human beings of dignity, respect, and hope for 
        their future;
Whereas no country or people are immune from the effects of modern-day slavery;
Whereas the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.) 
        states that the Declaration of Independence recognizes the inherent 
        dignity and worth of all people and states that all men are created 
        equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, 
        including the right to be free from slavery and involuntary servitude;
Whereas trafficking in persons involves the following: ``The use of force, 
        fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for commercial sex or for the 
        purpose of subjecting a victim to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, 
        or forced labor. The use of force or coercion can be direct and violent, 
        or psychological.'';
Whereas an estimated 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders 
        each year;
Whereas approximately 80 percent of victims are female and an estimated 40 to 50 
        percent of victims are children;
Whereas many of the victims are trafficked into the international sex trade, 
        which includes sexual exploitation of persons involving activities 
        including prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, and other commercial 
        sexual services;
Whereas an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 victims are trafficked into the United 
        States each year;
Whereas global profits from trafficked forced labor totals an estimated $31.6 
        billion annually;
Whereas the Department of Health and Human Services states that human 
        trafficking is the second largest criminal industry worldwide;
Whereas Article 1 of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of 
        Slavery defines indentured or bonded labor as ``the status or condition 
        arising from a pledge by a debtor of his [or her] personal services or 
        of those of a person under his [or her] control as security for a debt, 
        if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied 
        towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those 
        services are not respectively limited and defined'';
Whereas bonded labor can hardly be distinguished from traditional slavery 
        because it prevents the victim from leaving his or her job until the 
        debt is repaid;
Whereas the borrower is usually in a situation where he or she is never able to 
        repay the debt, and consequently the bonded laborer's children inherit 
        the debt in which people are enslaved from generation to generation;
Whereas bonded labor affects at least 20 million people around the world;
Whereas International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 105 on the 
        Abolition of Forced Labor ``prohibits the use of any form of forced or 
        compulsory labor as a means of political coercion or education, 
        punishment for the expression of political or ideological views, 
        workforce mobilization for purposes of economic development, labor 
        discipline, punishment for participation in strikes, or racial, social, 
        national or religious discrimination'';
Whereas at least 12.3 million people are victims of forced labor which includes 
        at least 9,490,000 in Asia and the Pacific, at least 1,320,000 in Latin 
        America and the Caribbean, at least 360,000 in industrialized countries 
        (i.e. England, France, and the United States), at least 260,000 in the 
        Middle East and North Africa, at least 260,000 in transition countries, 
        and at least 660,000 in sub-Saharan Africa;
Whereas among such 12.3 million victims, at a minimum, there are at least 2.5 
        million people who are forced to work by the governments, military 
        forces, or rebel military groups;
Whereas at least 9.8 million people are exploited by private agents and 
Whereas the ILO estimates that there are at least 1.4 million victims of 
        commercial sexual exploitation and at least 7.7 million victims of 
        economic exploitation;
Whereas global profits from all forced labor total an estimated $44.3 billion 
Whereas Article 1 of the 1964 Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for 
        Marriage and Registration of Marriages states that no marriage shall be 
        legally entered into without the full and free consent of both parties;
Whereas there is a clear distinction between an arranged marriage and a forced 
        marriage, where in an arranged marriage the consent of both parties is 
        sought and given but in a forced marriage, consent is not given and 
        duress is invariably a factor;
Whereas ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor defines the 
        worst forms of child labor ``as: all forms of slavery or practices 
        similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt 
        bondage, serfdom and forced or compulsory labor; forced or compulsory 
        recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; use of a child for 
        prostitution, production of pornography or pornographic performances; 
        use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in 
        particular for the production and trafficking of drugs; work which is 
        likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children'';
Whereas Principle 9 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child proclaimed by 
        the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 1959, states 
        that ``... the child shall not be admitted to employment before an 
        appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to 
        engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health 
        or education, or interfere with his physical, mental, or moral 
        development ...'';
Whereas Article 2 of ILO Convention No. 138 Concerning Minimum Age For Admission 
        to Employment states: ``The minimum age specified in pursuance of 
        paragraph 1 of this article shall not be less than the age of compulsory 
        schooling and, in any case, shall not be less than 16 years.'';
Whereas ILO Convention No. 182 has been ratified by more than 155 nations and 
        requires immediate and effective action to eliminate the worst forms of 
        child labor which involve children under the age of 18 and which include 
        slavery, debt bondage, forced or compulsory labor, the sale or 
        trafficking of children, including the forced or compulsory recruitment 
        of children for use in armed conflict, child prostitution, the use of 
        children in the production and trafficking of narcotics, and any other 
        work that, by its nature or due to the circumstances in which it is 
        carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of 
Whereas in particular, the ILO estimates that there are at least 60 million 
        children worldwide currently trapped in the worst forms of child labor;
Whereas the ILO estimates at least 179 million children affected by child labor 
        work in areas that are harmful to their health and welfare;
Whereas according to the ILO, worldwide an estimated 250 million children under 
        the age of 15 are working, many of them in dangerous industries such as 
        mining and fireworks;
Whereas children under the age of 15 constitute approximately 11 percent of the 
        workforce in some Asian countries, 17 percent in parts of Africa, and a 
        reported 12 to 26 percent in many countries in Latin America;
Whereas the number of children under the age of 15 who are working, and the 
        scale of their suffering, increases every year, despite the existence of 
        more than 20 ILO conventions on child labor and laws in many countries 
        that purportedly prohibit the employment of under-age children;
Whereas in many countries, children under the age of 15 lack either the legal 
        standing or means to protect themselves from exploitation in the 
Whereas ILO Convention No. 182 focused world attention on the need to take 
        immediate action to eradicate those forms of child labor that are 
        hazardous and damaging to children's physical, mental, or moral well-
Whereas the prevalence of child labor in many developing countries is rooted in 
        widespread poverty that is attributable to unemployment and 
        underemployment, precarious incomes, low living standards, and 
        insufficient education and training opportunities among adult workers;
Whereas the employment of children under the age of 16 commonly deprives such 
        children of the opportunity for basic education and also denies gainful 
        employment to millions of adults;
Whereas modern-day slavery capitalizes on areas of conflict and post conflict, 
        transitioning states, sudden political change, economic collapse, civil 
        unrest, internal armed conflict, chronic unemployment, widespread 
        poverty, personal disaster, lack of economic opportunity, and natural 
Whereas modern-day slavery preys upon the vulnerable, ethnic minorities, and 
        people without citizenship;
Whereas modern-day slavery uses threats, intimidation, manipulation, coercion, 
        fraud, shame, and violence to force victims into modern-day slavery;
Whereas populations vulnerable to modern-day slavery are growing due to the 
        rising numbers of orphans in developing countries, which are due to 
        civil conflicts and the HIV/AIDS pandemic;
Whereas the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases poses a 
        global threat and creates a particular challenge for victims of modern-
        day slavery involved in the international sex trade;
Whereas modern-day slavery brutalizes men, women, and children, and exposes them 
        to rape, torture, HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, 
        violence, dangerous working conditions, poor nutrition, drug and alcohol 
        addiction, and severe psychological trauma from separation, coercion, 
        sexual abuse, and depression;
Whereas organized criminal groups, gangs, document forgers, brothel owners, and 
        corrupt police or immigration officials funnel modern-day slavery 
        profits into both legitimate and criminal activities;
Whereas modern-day slavery has a negative impact on the labor market in many 
        countries and perpetuates a cycle of poverty;
Whereas the loss of family-support networks due to modern-day slavery 
        contributes to the breakdown of societies; and
Whereas 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic 
        slave trade: Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved,  That it is the sense of the House of Representatives 
            (1) the abolition of modern-day slavery should be a high 
        priority of United States foreign and domestic policy and the 
        United States should assume a leadership role in a global 
        campaign to eliminate all forms of modern-day slavery by 2017;
            (2) the trade, aid, and investment policies of the United 
        States should reflect and advance the commitment of the United 
        States to freedom for all people;
            (3) the United States should expand protection and legal 
        options for victims of modern-day slavery;
            (4) the United States should bring together governments, 
        international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and 
        individuals to form a comprehensive coalition and forge a 
        sustained global action plan to fight modern-day slavery; and
            (5) the abolition of modern-day slavery should be 
        prioritized at the 2007 Group of 8 (G-8) Summit in Germany.