Royce introduces bipartisan legislation to establish reward program for human traffickers

The State Department would be able to use cash rewards to help bring human traffickers to justice under bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) on Monday.

The Targeted Rewards for the Global Eradication of Human Trafficking (TARGET) Act, H.R. 1625, would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to include “severe forms of trafficking” humans as part of transnational organized crime.

“Human trafficking has become a global epidemic that preys on the most vulnerable among us — primarily women and children,” Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “This abhorrent trade is increasingly perpetrated by sophisticated international criminals who pose a threat to U.S. national security interests.”

Since 1984, the State Department has used a rewards program to generate leads that prevent terrorist attacks and help convict those responsible for them.

Royce, in introducing the TARGET Act with U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), said the bill would help turn the tables on traffickers by putting a price on their capture.

“We’ve seen the effectiveness of the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program in combating drug trafficking, cyber crimes and wildlife trafficking,” Royce said. “It is my expectation that the TARGET Act will be equally effective in the fight against those who buy and sell people.”

Royce previously led legislation, the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012, to expand the rewards program to include transnational criminal organizations, human rights abusers, and wildlife poaching and trafficking networks.