Yesterday members of Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and US SIF submitted a letter on behalf of 80 institutional investors, research and investment firms, to Rep. John Boehner (Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives) and Rep. Eric Cantor (Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives) seeking support on the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (HR 2759). HR 2759 requires companies that make over 100 million annually to include in their yearly report, actions being taken to identify and address issues of slavery. The letter strongly encourages the Republican House Leadership to “support investors, companies, workers and consumers by moving this important legislation forward in an expeditious manner.”
Read the letter here
We need your help at the Capitol today.
In July, we asked you to tell your U.S. senators to take a stand against slavery by supporting the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Many of you did just that, and 15 senators are now officially sponsoring the bill. Your action brought us one step closer to victory.
Now it’s time to mobilize the House of Representatives. We need them to move quickly, and to make the same improvements in their bill that we’ve already asked for in the Senate.
Let’s break our connection to slavery! We need to remove it from the products we buy, the clothes we wear and the cars we drive. There are thousands of slaves in America and millions more around the world.
What can you do? Call or e-mail your U.S. representative. Urge them to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (H.R.2830). It’s easy to find your representative’s contact info at the top right corner of the House of Representatives website.
Here’s what you can say to their receptionists, aides or voicemails:
“My name is ___ and I live in your district. I’m calling to ask the congressman / congresswoman to co-sponsor H.R.2830, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). I also want to ask him / her to strengthen the act, by requiring major companies to disclose on their websites and in annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission what they’re doing to end trafficking and slavery. The congressman / congresswoman can do this by including provisions of H.R.2759, the Business Transparency on Slavery and Trafficking Act, into the TVPRA.”
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act ensures the U.S. will remain a world leader in combating slavery. It directs authorities to raid brothels and sweatshops, freeing slaves and prosecuting slaveholders. It enables rescue shelters and rehabilitation programs to operate, inside the U.S. and overseas. The act helps Free the Slaves conduct programs that you support in India and Haiti.
This landmark anti-slavery initiative was created by Congress 10 years ago, but the act expires soon and must be renewed. Any delay could jeopardize the remarkable progress the U.S. has made.
This critical legislation is pending right now. Your voice could make the difference in ensuring the U.S. continues to fight trafficking and slavery. Your representative needs to hear from you today.
Thanks for your continued support.
Director of Programs
Free the Slaves
You may already know that slavery is connected to you. It’s in the products you buy, the clothes you wear and the car you drive. There are thousands of slaves in America, some hidden from view, others standing on street corners you pass every day.
Ever wonder: What can I do to stop it?
Here’s one simple but vital thing you can do: Call or e-mail your U.S. senators, and urge them to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S.1301).
This critical legislation is pending in the Senate right now. Your voice could make the difference in ensuring the U.S. continues to fight trafficking and slavery.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act ensures the U.S. will remain a world leader in combating slavery.
It directs authorities to raid brothels and sweatshops, freeing slaves and prosecuting slaveholders. It enables rescue shelters and rehabilitation programs to operate, inside the U.S. and overseas. The Act helps Free the Slaves conduct programs that you support in India and Haiti.
This landmark anti-slavery initiative was created by Congress years ago, but the Act expires soon and must be renewed. Any delay could jeopardize the remarkable progress the U.S. has made.
It’s easy to find your senators’ contact info at the top right corner of the Senate’s website. Here’s what you can say to their receptionists, aides or voicemails:
“My name is ___ and I live in (your state). I’m calling to ask the senator to co-sponsor S.1301, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. I also would like the senator to support strengthening the Act, by requiring major companies to disclose on their websites and in annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission what they’re doing to end trafficking and slavery.”
The battle against slavery has always been a bipartisan effort that brings lawmakers together, even in polarized times. Senators are working on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act behind the scenes, even though other issues are center stage at the moment. Your senators need to hear from you now. Please contact them today.
Thanks for your continued support.
Their response: “we do not support a delay” in the implementation of the law.
The conflict minerals law was signed into action late last year. Bundled in with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act, the law requires companies to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) what they are doing to keep conflict minerals from Congo out of their supply chains. There is evidence that tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold mined under coercive and exploitative conditions in eastern Congo find their way in products we use every day—like laptops, cell phones, batteries and jewelry. Profits from the trade of these minerals go to finance militias and armed groups, fueling what has been called the deadliest war in the world.
DON’T OVERLOOK SLAVERY IN CONGO MINES
But that’s not all. FTS has found evidence of slavery in Congo mines. In our investigations, we have found at least seven distinct types of modern-day slavery in and around the mining industry in eastern Kivu province: including debt bondage, sex slavery, forced marriage, and child soldiering.
Until earlier this month, the SEC had been accepting comments from the public about how they should implement the conflict minerals law. FTS has insisted that the monitoring of slavery be part of this law. We asked you, our constituents, to take action, and urge them: Don’t overlook slavery in Congo mines.
We eagerly await SEC’s decisions as to how the conflict minerals act will be enacted. But there was talk of a delay in this decision. In response to this news, FTS sent the aforementioned letter, demanding that the SEC’s decision be reached without delay—and the law implemented as soon as possible.
We are heartened by the State Department’s response. Read their letter in full here (PDF).
On March 21, Free The Slaves wrote a letter of support to Californian Senator Ellen M. Corbett, applauding her introduction of bill SB 861. A landmark piece of legislation, SB 861 prevents publicly traded companies from obtaining procurement contracts with the Californian State if found by the Securities and Exchange Commission of being in non-compliance with federal law relating to conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Embedded within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act—a series of financial reform measures enacted by President Obama in July 2009—is a regulatory provision relating to the DRC. Under this provision, companies are required by federal law to report on their mineral supply chains, disclose whether they are sourcing minerals from the DRC or its neighbors, and exercise due diligence to ensure that they are not inadvertently serving to fund armed groups committing atrocities there.
Greed for Congo’s mineral wealth on the part of armed groups and rebel militias has been instrumental in fueling the war and associated atrocities in the country. In collaboration with two Congolese human rights organizations, Free the Slaves has documented the prevalence of multiple forms of modern slavery in mining areas of North Kivu, eastern Congo. These abuses include forced labor and debt bondage connected directly to mining activities. Slavery in eastern Congo also includes the use of child soldiers, the abuse of children in prostitution, and other forms of sexual slavery. These abuses constitute recognized violations of slavery and human trafficking under international law and relevant U.S. laws.
The armed groups perpetuating violence in the DRC finance themselves through the trade of four main minerals: tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold—essential raw materials in electronics products such as cell phones, digital cameras and laptops. Free The Slaves, which represents over 3,200 Californian constituents, stressed in its letter to Senator Corbett that whilst California is rightly proud of its high-tech industry, the State should not be spending tax dollars on companies that fail to comply with federal law.
The Californian bill aims to help curb the multi-million dollar trade in illegally extracted minerals from eastern Congo by incentivizing company compliance with federal regulations; influencing the State’s electronics industry leaders as they decide whether or not to invest in the DRC and ensure that their supply chains are transparent.
The letter ended by emphasizing that SB 861 could help neutralize one of the key economic drivers of the conflict in Congo and protect the country’s children from a future stigmatized by violence and brutality. Through its passage California has the opportunity to show, once again, that it is a leader in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable by encouraging the development of verifiably conflict-free products.
The California State Senate Committee on Government Organization, Chaired by Senator Wright will hold a hearing on April 12, 2011 at 9:30 am in the State Capitol, Room 4203. This hearing will determine whether SB 861 will continue in its course to be signed into law by the State’s Governor.
Free The Slaves eagerly awaits the swift passage of the bill.