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House Committee Passes Human Trafficking Bills

On January 21, the House Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, several bills to address human trafficking: the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act (H.R. 350), the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (H.R. 159), the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (H.R. 181), and the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act (H.R 285).

H.R. 350

Sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), the legislation would direct the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to review federal and state activities that deter individuals from committing trafficking offenses and prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking. The bill would identify best practices to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking.

The measure would require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on federal and state law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking and would authorize grants to provide housing assistance to victims of human trafficking.

H.R. 159

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), would authorize the attorney general to give preferential consideration in awarding Community Oriented Police Services grants to states that treat minors who have engaged in commercial sex acts as victims of a severe form of human trafficking, discourage the prosecution of such minors for prostitution or sex trafficking, and encourage the diversion of such minors into appropriate social services.

The legislation also would require the attorney general’s annual report on federal agencies involved in implementing the provisions relating to the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to include information on activities conducted in cooperation with state, tribal, and local law enforcement.

The U.S. Marshals Service would be authorized to assist state, local, and other federal law enforcement agencies in locating missing children.

H.R. 181

Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), the bill would authorize grants to eligible entities “to develop, improve, or expand comprehensive domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement, prosecutors, judicial officials, and qualified victims’ services organizations in collaborating to rescue and restore the lives of victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child human trafficking.”

The bill also would establish or expand dedicated anti-trafficking law enforcement units or task forces, court programs, and victims’ services.

Among other provisions, the bill would amend the Victims of Child Abuse Act (P.L. 101-647) to include human trafficking and child pornography. The Office of Victims of Crime would be authorized to award grants to provide direct services to victims of child pornography.

H.R. 285

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), would make it a federal crime to knowingly obtain or advertise commercial sex acts involving minors or individuals engaged in such acts through force, fraud, or coercion. The bill also would penalize individuals who benefit financially from such advertising, knowing that the individual involved was a minor or victim of force, fraud, or coercion.

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