Efforts to combat trafficking require new approaches to crime, poverty, migration, labor, mental health, and law enforcement. Moreover, anti-trafficking policy must be directed at countries of origin, transit, and destination to be effective.
In March 1998, in an Executive Memorandum President Clinton directed the United States government to step up efforts, within the United States and in partnership with other countries, to heighten awareness of this human rights problem, and to improve protections for its victims. Efforts to combat trafficking require new approaches to crime, poverty, migration, labor, mental health, and law enforcement. Moreover, anti-trafficking policy must be directed at countries of origin, transit, and destination to be effective. With this understanding, the United States has embarked on a three-part anti-trafficking strategy:
- Prevention: The U.S. will expand efforts to prevent sexual trafficking through public awareness projects, and programs to increase economic opportunity and social development for women;
- Protection and assistance for trafficking victims: The U.S. seeks to meet the needs of trafficking victims by working with legal and medical groups, shelters, and support clinics to restructure the existing support system to aid and intervene appropriately.
- Prosecution and enforcement against traffickers: The Department of Justice is reviewing possible measures to improve their ability to bring cases against sexual trafficking, to eliminate corruption in the trafficking industry, and to train law enforcement officials to recognize and act against sexual trafficking.
"The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000," (H.R. 3244) introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sam Gejdenson (D-CT) passed the House by a voice vote in May, 2000. H.R. 3244 aims to combat trafficking of persons especially in the sex-trade, slavery, and slave-like conditions in the Untied States and countries around the world through prosecution and enforcement against traffickers, and through protection and assistance of trafficking. Senators Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) are collaborating on similar pieces of legislation introduced separately by each Senator. Senator Wellstone's bill is entitled the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (S. 2414). The senators have agreed to combine their bills into one piece of legislation with all sanctions language removed. The strategy intends that Senate passage will be expedited without a section on sanctions. Once the bill has been passed sanctions will be worked on in conference with the passed house bill.
In May 2000, President Clinton signed the "Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography", which stems from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This protocol makes it a criminal offense to sell, trade or use children for a variety of purposes including sexual exploitation and pornography. The agreement awaits ratification by the United States Senate.