Washington—The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, approved today by the Senate, included key provisions from the Combat Human Trafficking Act, a bill introduced in January by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
The provisions from the Combat Human Trafficking Act were designed to reduce the demand for sex trafficking. They would:
- Increase penalties for buyers of sex acts from trafficking victims,
- Expand reporting on trafficking prosecutions,
- Require training on targeting and prosecuting buyers and on providing victims with health services and restitution,
- Expand wiretapping authority to cover all human trafficking offenses, and
- Strengthen crime victims’ rights.
“Sex trafficking victims face unspeakable horrors, and many of them are as young as 12 or 13 years old,” said Senator Feinstein. “Many buyers are fully aware that these victims are underage and being held against their will, and they should be held responsible for their actions and prosecuted. The language I drafted with Senator Portman makes it easier to prosecute these criminals, and will hopefully over time reduce the demand for human trafficking.”
“This legislation sends a clear message to those who victimize children that we will prosecute you to the full extent of the law,” said Senator Portman. “By strengthening laws against buyers, we can take steps toward reducing demand and ensuring criminals are fully prosecuted. I’m pleased this has passed the Senate and will continue my efforts to make it law.”
Following is a detailed summary of the Combat Human Trafficking Act provisions that were included in the bill passed today:
- Reduce demand for human trafficking by establishing a minimum period of five years of supervised release for a person who conspires to violate the commercial sex trafficking statute (§ 1591), thereby making conspirators subject to the same term of supervised release as those convicted of attempting to violate the statute or of violating the statute.
- Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics to prepare an annual report on the number of arrests, prosecutions, convictions and lengths of sentences regarding sex trafficking offenses prosecuted in state courts.
- Direct the Department of Justice to ensure that each anti-human trafficking training program it offers includes training on effective methods for investigating and prosecuting the buyers of sex acts involving trafficking victims and connecting trafficking victims with health care providers.
- Direct the Department of Justice to ensure that federal law enforcement officers investigate and prosecute buyers of sex acts involving trafficking victims.
- Direct the Department of Justice and the Federal Judiciary to provide training to federal prosecutors and judges on seeking and ordering restitution, respectively, for human trafficking victims. This responds to a recent report issued by The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center that found that federal prosecutors did not seek restitution in 37 percent of qualifying human trafficking cases brought between 2009 and 2012, even though restitution for trafficking victims is mandatory under federal law. When the prosecutor did not seek restitution, it was granted in only 10 percent of cases. Overall, restitution was awarded in only 36 percent of cases.
- Expand federal and state wiretapping authority to cover all human trafficking offenses, specifically peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, child sexual exploitation, child pornography production, slavery and involuntary servitude.
- Strengthen crime victims’ rights by:
- Amending the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to provide victims with the right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea agreement or deferred prosecution agreement.
- Clarifying that, when a victim is denied his or her rights in the lower court and appeals that denial, the appellate court shall apply ordinary standards of appellate review. This would codify the more victim-protecting rule, followed by the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits.