Monday, July 19, 2010

Human trafficking legislation called "latest big trend"

According to the Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking group, in 2006 there were eight human trafficking bills passed and enacted across the country. In 2010, there were 350 bills introduced and 40 enacted so far. The Washington Post today reports on how state legislatures are stepping up efforts to address the issue.

In Hawaii, the legislature passed SB2045, a bill that established Class A and B felony human trafficking offenses. Governor Lingle vetoed the bill. The governor's primary objections were that the new offenses were not clearly defined, and that the language was "poorly drafted" and "overly broad" making it "virtually impossible to bring to trial and convict those who engage in human trafficking." Read the full veto message here.

The National Conference of State Legislatures calls human trafficking the "latest big trend." NCSL is expected to issue a policy statement on human trafficking at its annual conference starting next week.

Statistics on human trafficking are considered unreliable and under-estimated. That said, the government estimates that 14,500 - 17,500 victims are brought to the U.S. each year, and that over 250,000 children are at risk of sexual exploitation, thereby falling into the trafficking category.

In Hawaii's high profile trafficking case, sentencing is expected today for the owners of Aloun Farms, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges after helping to bring in workers from Thailand.

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