July 19, 2012
HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION
By: Christopher Reinhart, Chief Attorney
You asked for a history of human trafficking legislation in Connecticut.
Generally, human trafficking means the illegal trade of human beings for any reason, including sexual exploitation or forced labor. We limit our report to legislation specifically targeting human trafficking and do not discuss such criminal laws as kidnapping, sexual exploitation, intimidation, or stalking which may be elements of trafficking.
The legislature first adopted human trafficking legislation in 2004. Since then, a total of nine acts have included provisions addressing this topic.
Among other things, the acts created a task force, and later a council, to study human trafficking and recommend ways to combat it; enhanced criminal and civil penalties for human trafficking; created a civil forfeiture procedure to seize tainted funds and property used or obtained from crimes involving human trafficking; required training programs; and promoted services to victims.
Below we discuss the major provisions of these acts relating to human trafficking, organized by year.
Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons
SA 04-8 created an Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons consisting of 25 public officials and appointed members. The act required the task force to:
1. collect data on the nature and extent of trafficking in persons in the state;
2. investigate collaborative models for protecting trafficking victims;
3. measure and evaluate the state's progress in (a) preventing trafficking, (b) protecting and assisting victims, and (c) prosecuting traffickers;
4. identify federal, state, and local programs that provide services to victims;
5. evaluate approaches to increase public awareness;
6. analyze existing state criminal statutes and recommend revisions or additions; and
7. consult with government and nongovernmental organizations in developing recommendations to strengthen state and local efforts to prevent trafficking, protect and assist victims, and prosecute traffickers.
It required the task force to report findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1, 2006.
PA 06-43 created the crime of trafficking in persons as a class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. A person commits this crime by committing the crime of coercion in order to force or induce the victim to engage in prostitution or work.
The act also subjected a person or enterprise that engaged in a pattern of trafficking to prosecution under the Corrupt Organization Racketeering Act (CORA). It also applies to attempts, conspiracies, and aiding and abetting in the commission of the crime.
CORA violators are subject to imprisonment for up to 20 years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. They are also subject to the fines and penalties associated with the underlying crimes themselves. They forfeit to the state all property acquired, maintained, or used in racketeering activities.
PA 06-43 authorized the attorney general to file suit, at the labor commissioner's request, against an employer who employs workers knowing they are being coerced by someone else to work. It subjected violators to a fine of up to $10,000 for each violation and authorized the court to order other appropriate relief.
The act also authorized victims to sue for either (1) their actual damages or (2) statutory damages of up to $1,000 for each day they were coerced to work or engage in prostitution. In either case, the trafficker also pays the victim's reasonable attorneys fees.
Training, Programs, and Services
PA 06-43 directed the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, in conjunction with the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), to develop a training program on trafficking in persons. It required training for state and local police departments, prosecutors, and community organizations on request.
PA 06-43 also made appropriations to implement the training program and for contracting with a community provider for shelter and other services for trafficking victims, but PA 06-187 repealed the appropriations. PA 06-187 also repealed PA 06-43's appropriation for the Criminal Justice Division's witness protection services for cooperating trafficking victims at risk of harm, but transferred the same amount from the Judicial Branch's Victim Services Account for this purpose.
Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons
PA 06-43 added four members to the Interagency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons and required it to (1) implement public awareness strategies; (2) identify criteria for providing victim services; and (3) address victims' access to rights, benefits, and services. It required the task force to report its recommendations to the legislature by January 1, 2007.
Trafficking in Persons Council
PA 07-107 created the Trafficking in Persons Council to:
1. consult with government and non-government organizations in developing recommendations to strengthen state and local efforts to prevent trafficking, protect and assist victims, and prosecute traffickers;
2. identify criteria for providing services to adult trafficking victims and their children; and
3. hold meetings to provide updates and progress reports.
The council consists of 25 public officials and appointed members.
The act required the council to meet at least three times per year, and annually report to the General Assembly on its activities and recommended legislation, beginning January 1, 2008.
Coordinated Response System to Help Victims
PA 07-4, June Special Session (§ 29) required the Office of Victim Services, within appropriations, to contract with nongovernmental organizations to develop a coordinated response system to help trafficking victims. Allowable contract topics include:
1. developing a uniform curriculum to address victims' rights and services;
2. developing information and material on available resources and services for victims;
3. seeking out quality training and other educational opportunities for identifying and helping victims, taking into consideration their culture and needs; and
4. promoting and disseminating information on training and other educational opportunities that help victims to locate emergency medical services, faith-based communities, sexual assault service providers, domestic violence service providers, and state and local government agencies.
PA 07-4, June Special Session (§ 83) required OPM to submit a report to legislative committees on the impact on budgeted state agencies of implementing this contracting provision but PA 07-5, June Special Session (§ 6) eliminated the reporting requirement.
Visas for Family Violence and Trafficking Victims
PA 09-7, September Special Session (§§ 64 and 66) required, within available appropriations and starting July 1, 2010, POST training for family violence matters to include information on eligibility for federal:
1. T visas for victims of human trafficking and
2. U visas for unauthorized immigrants who are victims of family violence and other crimes (these visas are for victims of or those who possess information about certain types of crimes, including trafficking).
It also required:
1. POST to establish uniform protocols that law enforcement must use for treating family violence victims with a questionable immigration status;
2. each law enforcement agency to designate a supervisor to process federal documents (such as forms confirming a victim will be helpful in a criminal investigation) when asked to do so by a victim applying for U.S. nonimmigrant status; and
3. the Judicial Branch, within available appropriations, to train its staff on family violence issues and law, including eligibility for T and U visas.
PA 10-112 established a civil forfeiture procedure to seize tainted funds and property used or obtained from crimes involving human trafficking. The funds and property subject to forfeiture are:
1. money used or intended for use related to the human trafficking crime;
2. property constituting the proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, from the crime;
3. property derived from the proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, from any sale or exchange for pecuniary gain from the crime; and
4. property used or intended for use, in any manner or part, to commit or facilitate the crime for pecuniary gain.
Presumption of Trafficking
PA 10-115 created a presumption (i.e., one that must be rebutted by the prosecution) that a 16- or 17-year-old charged with prostitution was coerced into committing the offense by another person in violation of the law against trafficking in persons.