Peters Cosponsors Bill Establishing New Initiative to End Modern Slavery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced today that he is cosponsoring the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 to establish the End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation, a new nonprofit institution dedicated to identifying and supporting successful strategies to combat modern slavery around the world. More than 27 million people are trapped in the multi-billion dollar modern slave trade industry. Problems like weak enforcement of existing laws, corruption or a lack of resources have allowed slavery to continue in countries across the world, including the United States.

“Whether it is forced labor, sex trafficking, or the sale and exploitation of children, modern slavery is a horrific global criminal enterprise that demands action from the United States and its allies,” said Senator Peters. “This is an increasingly pervasive issue even in Michigan, where human trafficking has become a serious and growing problem. Establishing this nonprofit foundation will help bring together the coordinated resources and enforcement efforts we need to end modern slavery around the world.”

The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation will fund programs and projects that contribute to the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery, prevent individuals from becoming enslaved, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of this horrific crime. Funds must be used to achieve a measurable 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in targeted populations, and the Foundation is required to comply with financial audits and program evaluations from the Government Accountability Office. Projects that fail to meet goals will be suspended or terminated.

The bill provides up to $251 million in federal funds incrementally over the course of eight years. The bill leverages limited U.S. foreign aid dollars by releasing these funds as matching grants, as the Foundation seeks to raise at least $1.5 billion including $500 million from foreign governments and $750 million from private sources.

The bipartisan End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 was introduced earlier this year by the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the bill has been endorsed by United Way, Lutheran Services, the Episcopal Church, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants as well as a number of other faith-based organizations.

Senator Peters has been focused on improving efforts to combat human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery that has become a growing problem in Michigan. Just last week, the Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Centers Act of 2015 that he introduced with Senator Bill Cassidy (LA) passed the Senate. The bill will establish a pilot program to better train health care professionals to recognize the signs of trafficking in their patients.