This past week, the United States House of Representatives passed various bills that, if signed into law, could be highly effective in strengthening the fight against human trafficking. As usual, some of them hold significance, while others are unlikely to make a difference. No one really wants to read through the complex bills word for word, but it is important to be aware of the new laws that could be in place soon regarding the treatment of sex offenders and traffickers. To assist you in this way, I will attempt to summarize the most important bills being passed in the US House in a way that sounds a bit less dreary and a lot more like English. Each of these bills has already passed in the House, so they will need to be passed in the Senate and then signed by the President. I attached links to the text for each bill.
HR 1862: “Global Child Protection Act of 2017.” This bill essentially would broaden the definition of a “Federal Sex Offense.” It would replace words such as “sexual act” with “any conduct” and so on. In other words, it aims to include more forms of sex offenses under the Federal Sex Offense definition. It would also close a major loophole and ensure that offenders are charged not only with sexually forcing themselves on a child, but also sexually forcing the child on themselves. GOOD BILL
HR 1842: “Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017.” This one is a bit more scattered in terms of its focus. It would include the words “State Law” in Section 2250(d) of Title 18 US Code so that the federal laws regarding the failure of sex offenders to register themselves as offenders would apply for states as well. It also criminalizes failure to register as a sex offender. The second and somewhat unrelated section of the bill is that prior military offenses would be included for purposes of recidivist sentence provisions for sexual offense cases. DECENT BILL
HR 883: “Targeting Child Predators Act of 2017.” The bill is centered on nondisclosure requirements in administrative subpoenas. In the context of subpoenas, a nondisclosure requirement is exactly what it sounds like. It means that the recipient of the subpoena is prohibited from disclosing any information about the subpoena to anyone, aside from an attorney or other relevant person. A nondisclosure requirement would only be enacted if there is reason to believe that the disclosure could result in one of the following:
– Endangerment to the life or physical safety of any person
– Flight to avoid prosecution
– Destruction of or tampering with evidence
– Intimidation of potential witnesses
Usually, the nondisclosure period is 90 days, but this bill would increase the period to 180 days. DECENT BILL
HR 2473: “Putting Trafficking Victims First Act of 2017.” In my opinion, this is the most important bill in the list so far. However, it is also one of the longest.
– The first provision is training for “investigating, prosecuting, and preventing severe forms of trafficking in persons through a trauma-informed and victim-centered approach.”
– Rightfully so, the bill places a much needed focus on ensuring that the victims of human trafficking receive the help and services they need.
– In addition, the bill would implement screening systems for children entering child welfare services and the juvenile justice system, as well as for unaccompanied child immigrants. The screening would be used for the purpose of identifying trafficking victims; this way, the children would be able to get the help they need as soon as possible.
– Furthermore, the bill would ensure that child trafficking victims are never referred to as “child prostitutes” or “underage sex workers” in official documents.
– The bill would also provide a 24-hour emergency response plan with immediate protection and support when a trafficking victim is initially identified.
– The bill then lays out specific rights that trafficking victims should have and be aware of.
– Finally, Section 4 of the bill calls for the increased use of mandatory restitution by means of asset forfeiture. In other words, the victims would receive restitution, or compensation, for their suffering. Now, asset forfeiture may not be the best way to go about compensating the victims. The concept is that an object used in a crime, such as money or a car, is guilty in and of itself because it was tainted with the crime. Therefore, it should be confiscated and used for other purposes. In the context of restitution, it would mean taking the money directly from the trafficker by force and acquiring more of the trafficker’s belongings if needed to fully pay the restitution. Countless American citizens argue that this should be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, since it seems like the government is, in a way, stealing from a citizen. In this way, the asset forfeiture could easily backfire in terms of mass approval. Instead, imposing a fine on the trafficker for the purpose of restitution would be a more ethical and constitutional alternative. GOOD BILL
HR 1370: “Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act of 2017.”
– This bill focuses on the identification of and education about human trafficking, particularly along the borders.
– It would provide techniques specifically for Transportation Security Administration personnel to identify victims of human trafficking at airport security, a very important provision.
– Additionally, it would educate partners and stakeholders to increase public awareness of human trafficking.
– Finally, it would “leverage partnerships with governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector organizations at state and local levels to raise public awareness of human trafficking.” GOOD BILL
About The Key2Free
The Key2Free is working to abolish sex trafficking through education, awareness and safe housing of survivors, both domestic and abroad.Read More