Friday, February 25, 2011

Legislation proposed to stop human trafficking |

BOSTON — Seeking to eradicate the exploitation of victims for sexual servitude and labor, Attorney General Martha Coakley has joined Senator Mark Montigny's six-year effort to pass comprehensive human trafficking legislation.

Human trafficking is considered the second largest and single fastest growing illegal industry in the world. Experts estimate that 27 million people are trafficked internationally and domestically, bringing in $36 billion annually.

More than 20,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States every year, many of whom are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade or to provide labor or services under fear they will suffer serious harm or death if they leave.

The legislation that has been filed, would establish human trafficking for sexual servitude or labor as a crime in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is currently one of only five states in the country without human trafficking laws.

The sponsors said the bill gives law enforcement the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute the crimes and attempts to address all three aspects of human trafficking — supply, demand, and victim services.

Sen. Montigny said. "I cannot overstate the importance of passing legislation to ensure that law enforcement officials in the commonwealth have all the tools necessary to protect potential victims and punish those who are profiting from these horrendous crimes. "

"This bill is one step toward combating the egregious crime of human trafficking, which is a fundamental issue of public safety and human rights in our Commonwealth," Attorney General Coakley said.
Montigny's bill, SD 31, would do the following:

* Makes human trafficking a crime, including involuntary servitude, trafficking persons for forced labor or services, sexual servitude and establishes enhanced penalties for the forced labor, sexual servitude, and kidnapping of children.

* Establishes severe penalties for this type of illegal activity; including sentencing enhancements if there has been bodily injury or death to a victim.

* Establishes a trust fund for the victims of Human trafficking through fines and penalties and by allowing law enforcement to seek the forfeiture of assets of the traffickers.

* Allows for the courts to order restitution to the victims of Human trafficking and law enforcement to bring forfeiture actions against the trafficker to seize any profits or assets that they received or procured as a result of their illegal activities.

* Establishes a civil cause of action for the victim of human trafficking and establishes civil liability for any business entity that participates in human trafficking.

* Mandates that law enforcement assist victims in obtaining "T" and "U" visas for their safety and protection.

* Establishes safe houses for victims, the right to compensation and medical benefits for child victims, and mandates appropriate services from state agencies.

* Makes the trafficking of human organs a crime.

* Applies rape shield to victims of human trafficking.

* Creates a task force that is charged with: collecting information on human trafficking in the commonwealth, identifying programs and areas of assistance for victims, educating law enforcement officials and the public about human trafficking, and analyzing state laws and recommending stronger laws.

In addition to endorsing legislation, AG Coakley has announced the creation of a Human Trafficking Strike Force in her office. The Strike Force consists of staff from the AG's Business and Labor, Criminal, Public Protection and Advocacy, and Executive Bureaus. This strike force is tasked with coordinating the efforts of the office and working to combat human trafficking by increasing prosecutions, educating the general public, training and coordinating with other law enforcement, and seeking out resources to assist and support victims.

Legislation proposed to stop human trafficking |
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