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Bill to fight human trafficking advances in the General Assembly

Date Posted: Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Categories:  Criminal Department of Justice DOJ Press Releases

Dover – Legislation aimed at fighting the growing crisis of human trafficking was passed unanimously by the State Senate today and now heads to the House for consideration.

 

Senate Bill 197, introduced last month, was drafted by Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere, and Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South, in cooperation with Attorney General Beau Biden’s office and the Uniform Law Commission (ULC).  It would enhance criminal penalties for those that engage in human trafficking and provide greater protections for victims of human trafficking.

“Victims of human trafficking are some of the most vulnerable among us,” Attorney General Beau Biden said.  “Through this legislation our State is increasing its efforts to hold offenders accountable and to care for those who are subjected to the cruelty of this crime.  I want to recognize Senator Blevins for her leadership on this issue and members of the State Senate who, by voting for this legislation, for recognized the need to act to protect the voiceless victims of this unspeakable crime.”

 

“Today’s passage marks a watershed in Delaware’s fight against human trafficking,” Delaware Uniform Law Commissioner and ULC Immediate Past-President Michael Houghton said.  “The Uniform Law Commission will continue to work with Attorney General Biden’s office, Sen. Blevins and Rep. Keeley to strengthen the criminal penalties that hold traffickers accountable and to help innocent victims escape from traffickers’ grasp to a better life.”

 

“Many of us don’t realize how frequently people of all ages fall victim to human trafficking right here in the United States, including Delaware, or understand the lasting and damaging impact that it has on individuals and their families,” Sen. Blevins said. “Not only does this bill strengthen our ability to penalize those who carry out these crimes, but it provides protections for victims, so that they are not criminalized for acts which they were forced to commit. Also, through the Council established under this bill, Delaware will continue to coordinate and develop rehabilitative services to help victims cope mentally and physically after their abuse, and get them back on their feet.”

 

Human trafficking is now the second fastest growing crime in the United States, and Delaware legislation provides a comprehensive approach in the fight against human trafficking.  The bill:

  • Sharpens the state’s provisions that penalize the criminal conduct at the core of human trafficking and punishes those who knowingly benefit by using human-trafficking victims.
  • Empowers Courts to order that traffickers forfeit property used in or gained by trafficking.
  • Provides the protections and remedies that victims need to recover and rebuild their lives.
  • Creates a Human Trafficking Coordinating Council to develop a comprehensive anti-human-trafficking plan, evaluate data, effectuate interagency cooperation, and other important tasks.

 

Delaware’s Human Trafficking bill was based in part on the Uniform Act on the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking, drafted and approved by the ULC in 2013 and endorsed by the American Bar Association.  The Uniform Act has been the basis for anti-human trafficking legislation in numerous states this year.  A broad coalition of organizations joined the ULC in creating the Uniform Act, including the ABA, the ABA Center for Human Rights, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Polaris Project, LexisNexis, the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and other organizations committed to eradicating human trafficking.

 

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