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Senate Committee Approves Human Trafficking Bills

On February 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 178) and the Stop Exploitation through Trafficking Act (S. 166).

S. 178

Sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the legislation would authorize no more than $7 million annually for FY2016-2020 for a newly established Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund. The fund would support programs to enhance victims’ services provided under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (P.L. 106-386). The bill would require that at least $2 million be used to provide services to victims of child pornography.

The measure would allow the attorney general to award block grants to eligible entities to develop, improve, and expand domestic child trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judicial officials, and qualified victims’ services organizations in their efforts to rescue and restore victims’ lives and investigate and prosecute offenders.

Among other provisions, the bill would enhance human trafficking reporting, aim to reduce the demand for sex trafficking, streamline human trafficking investigations, target child predators, and treat all human traffickers as violent criminals.

S. 166

Sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the bill would amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (P.L 90-351) to provide incentives to states and jurisdictions that hire or rehire additional law enforcement officials to address human sex trafficking and that have laws in place that treat minors who engaged in commercial sex acts as victims of severe forms of trafficking.

The legislation also would allow the attorney general to implement and maintain a national strategy for combating human trafficking. The strategy would integrate federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute any human trafficking cases.

The measure would establish a national human trafficking hotline and require reporting on restitution paid in connection with certain trafficking offenses.

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