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Human Trafficking

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									Human Trafficking
2-16-07
By Olivia Beatty
^ Word count: 445
^Multimedia: None


Human trafficking punishment bill tabled

RICHMOND, Va. -- A bill defining and establishing the crime and punishment of human
trafficking at the state level has been left in the House Courts of Justice Committee,
failing to make the crossover to the Senate. The legislation would have made human
trafficking punishable as a Class 4 felony, or when used for the purposes of commercial
sex acts, be punished as a Class 2 felony.
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Human trafficking punishment bill tabled

By Olivia Beatty
Capital News Service


RICHMOND, Va. -- A bill defining and establishing the crime and punishment of human

trafficking at the state level has been left in the House Courts of Justice Committee,

failing to make the crossover to the Senate.

          House Bill 2551 would have made human trafficking punishable as a Class 4

felony, or when used for the purposes of commercial sex acts, be punished as a Class 2

felony.

          House Bill 2923 to create a legislative commission for the study and prevention of

human trafficking passed the House, and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Both bills are sponsored by Delegate Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington.

          “The justice department has templates to help states draft anti-human trafficking

bills. It is helpful for federal prosecution if states have their own legislation,” said
Cynthia Magnuson, spokesperson and public affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of

Justice.

           Magnuson also said, “When this administration took office only a few states had

such legislation, now nearly half the states do.”

           The U.S. Department of State's June 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report

estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to

the U.S. annually.

           The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children

and Families defines human trafficking as a modern-day form of slavery. According to

the agency, victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud or coercion for the

purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

           “We try to get the sentence to fit the crime,” Magnuson said. “It's done on a case-

by-case basis, there's no mandatory penalty. In one case, a man was running a labor

camp, he's serving more than 40 years.”

           In October 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000

was signed into federal law. The act expanded the definitions of forced labor in the

slavery and peonage statutes, which were enacted more than 100 years ago.

           The law now includes forms of coercion occurring in modern times, allowing

more victims to receive aid and bringing more cases to justice. The new law also

increases prison terms from 10 years to 20 years; and adds life imprisonment when the

violation involves death, kidnapping or sexual abuse of the victim.
       Before the 2000 Act “the U.S. was still using slavery statutes from the 1800s to

deal with forced labor,” said Jean Bruggeman, director of the department of survivor

services for Boat People S.O.S.

       Boat People S.O.S. is nonprofit organization based in Falls Church that works for

the rights of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants.

       In May 2006, two brothers were charged in Loundon County with human

trafficking and immigration violations in federal court. The pair could serve up to 10

years in prison.



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This story has been sent to Capital News Service clients by the CNS copy desk.
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