Human Exceptionalism

Why Isn’t This News? Anti-Slavery Law Passes Congress

The Discovery Institute’s embryonic Center for Human Rights and Bioethics–of which I am a part–is very concerned with working to prevent slavery and human trafficking. That is why we were so pleased that the William Wilberforce Trafficking and Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 has passed Congress and will be signed into law. Considering the importance of this issue to human freedom, it is puzzling that Google and Yahoo searches found zero news stories.

The law–that will be in effect until 2011–focuses on trafficking within the United States and throughout the world; it greatly strengthens the role and authority of the Trafficking in Persons Office and greatly enhances the tools available to domestic criminal prosecutors of traffickers. It also increases protections available to trafficking victims in the U.S. through newly authorized programs to assist U.S. victims of trafficking and vulnerable-to-trafficking unaccompanied foreign national children brought to the United States. The Act also greatly strengthens U.S. government efforts to end the use of child soldiers.

With regard to the last point–a crucial issue in poor countries–Title IV prevents the provision of various forms of military assistance to countries that use children in government military forces or government-supported armed groups. This will be an important tool to address the use of “child soldiers” around the world, who in addition to being placed in situation of extreme violence and danger, are regularly victimized by brutal physical and sexual abuse.

Human exceptionalism demands an end to odious practices such as slavery, sex trafficking, and impressment of child soldiers. It was too difficult passing this bill–as Discovery Institute senior fellow John Miller pointed out in the NYT a few months ago–but finally the deed is done. Bueno!


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