The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving the state of Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington. The Conference comes to you in support of House Bill 1304, which would increase awareness of resources to combat human trafficking along transportation stops, stations, and rest areas within Maryland.
Human trafficking is a serious problem on the east coast of the United States and increasingly in Maryland. The Conference supports efforts to engage public and private resources to aid law enforcement in combating this immoral industry which is an affront to human dignity. According to U.S. government estimates, thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked to and within the United States each year for purposes of either forced prostitution or forced labor. By requiring certain State Highway Administration (SHA) rest areas and the owners of privately owned bus stations or truck stops to post a specified National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline information sign in restrooms, HB 1304 would increase the visibility along the routes that traffickers travel to further their enterprise.
The trafficking of persons is a modern-day form of slavery – indeed, the chief manifestation of slavery today. Pope John Paul II, in a letter on the occasion of the International Conference on “21st Century Slavery—the Human Rights Dimension to Trafficking in Human Beings,” stated that human trafficking “constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. In particular, the sexual exploitation of women and children is a particularly repugnant aspect of this trade, and must be recognized as an intrinsic violation of human dignity and human rights.” With this in mind, the Conference urges you to raise awareness of the horrible crime of human trafficking in Maryland by giving a favorable report to HB 1304. Thank you for your consideration.