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Reform Jewish Leader Applauds President Bush on Combating Human Trafficking

Contact: Alexis Rice or Zach Rosenbergl
202.387.2800

Saperstein: By maintaining a firm commitment to eliminate human trafficking, the United States protects human life and gives fundamental respect to the divine spark within each of us.

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2004 - On Friday, President Bush spotlighted the international crisis of human and particularly sex "trafficking" at the National Conference on Human Trafficking in Tampa, Florida. In response to the heightened attention and strong action from the Bush administration, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The President's strong leadership on confronting on human trafficking at home and abroad is to be applauded. When victims, mostly promise-driven women and children, are sold outright, held as virtual prisoners in shadow, stripped of their passports, robbed of their dignity, and left vulnerable to brute violence and intimidation, we-as citizens and as human beings-must take legal and moral responsibility to ease their misery and bring their tormenters to justice. President Bush deserves credit for the work his administration has done to galvanize international action to stem the global crisis, which currently stands as the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

The United States, in its implementation of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, has become increasingly more vigorous in its strategies to protect and assist victims, prosecute traffickers, educate travelers, and prevent trafficking.

At the same time we laud this critical work, we urge the President to push forward the ratification process of the United Nations Trafficking Protocol, which would enable the United States to join the large number of countries who have already pledged to combat trafficking. This would deeply strengthen U.S. influence on governments to protect victims of trafficking in a comprehensive manner-through medical and psychological care; safe shelter; legal assistance; law enforcement training; community-outreach; aggressive prosecution of traffickers; refugee status; and safe repatriation.

Jewish tradition teaches "one who destroys one life, it is as if he destroys an entire world, and one who saves one life, it is as if he saves an entire world." By maintaining a firm commitment to eliminate human trafficking, the United States protects human life and gives fundamental respect to the divine spark within each of us.

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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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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