Rabbi Saperstein: "This year’s report signifies the tremendous progress that the Israeli government has made…and can be a model for other nations across the globe on the progress in addressing this moral tragedy that is possible."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., July 3, 2012 — In response to the release of the State Department's 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
"The release of the State Department's 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report highlights the importance of stringent accountability and monitoring of human trafficking. The scourge of human trafficking violates the inherent dignity of every human being. Around the world, year in and year out, hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children are victimized by those who enslave them using deception and often outright force. This report remains a critical tool for ensuring that human trafficking is no longer allowed to occur in the shadows as governments turn a blind eye. We are proud of the role our Religious Action Center played in the drafting and passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
While we take this time to express our disappointment with the countries that have not worked hard enough to eradicate human trafficking within their borders, we are greatly encouraged by the 29 countries that were upgraded from a lower tier to a higher one. We are especially pleased by the fact that Israel has been categorized as a "Tier One" country for the first time, after years of consistent efforts to eliminate human trafficking. Having moved from Tier Three in the original report to Tier One in this year's report signifies the tremendous progress that the Israeli government has made, including the legislation passed by the Knesset to prohibit the purchase of sexual services, and to provide comprehensive crucial services for victims of human trafficking, and can be a model for other nations across the globe on the progress in addressing this moral tragedy that is possible.
We are also encouraged to see the steady advances that the Canadian government has made in its efforts to combat human trafficking, earning it an eighth Tier 1 ranking on the TIP Report. Particularly, we welcome Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plans to launch the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and the Canadian government’s continuing efforts to prevent trafficking and to improve victim services. We commend our synagogues in Canada, many of whom have been outspoken and have helped spur public support on this issue.
We are proud of the global efforts to decrease the incidence of trafficking and improve the lives of victims of human trafficking, but we know there is still much more work to be done in Israel, Canada, the United States, and around the world. Jewish tradition teaches that there is no greater mitzvah than redeeming the captives – those who are hungry, thirsty, oppressed, abused and whose lives are in danger. We will continue to work to bring about an end to human trafficking and ensure than no woman, man or child knows the experience of functional captivity."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.