JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Introduced by Governor Malloy
REASONS FOR BILL:
Shared Hope International, an organization whose mission is to eradicate human trafficking, gave Connecticut a grade of “D” in their annual review of state's laws. In particular, Connecticut's laws are lacking in the areas of criminalization for demand, protective provisions for child victims and tools for investigation. HB 6849 makes several changes to the statutes related to human trafficking in order to strengthen our protections for victims.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Department of Children and Families (DCF), State of Connecticut; supports
DCF supports HB 6849 as it makes a number of statutory changes to better protect victims of human trafficking and to strengthen criminal penalties for perpetrators. Among them:
1. Expands the crime of human trafficking by broadening the conditions under which the crime is committed when the victim is a minor.
2. Requires the Department of Public Health to provide victims of human trafficking with the same services it must provide certain sexual assault victims under existing laws, including HIV testing and counseling.
3. Allows the Office of Victims Services to waive the time limitation on crime victim compensation applications for a minor who is a victim of human trafficking.
4. Expands the conditions under which a court may erase a juvenile's record
5. Expands the list of crimes, including human trafficking, for which wiretapping is authorized.
6. Increases, from 21 to 23, the membership of the Trafficking in Persons Council.
Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Connecticut General Assembly; supports
PCSW supports all of the changes proposed in HB 6849, many of which are based on the Protected Innocence Legislative Framework which is an analysis of state laws produced by the American Center for Law and Justice and Shared Hope International. PCSW is keenly aware of the issue of human trafficking as Connecticut's Trafficking in Persons Council is chaired and convened by the PCSW pursuant to C.G.S. 46a-170.
Two of the proposals in HB 6849 were also included in the Trafficking in Persons Council 2014 Annual Report. Section 4 of the bill proposes to eliminate the requirement of proving use of force or threat of use of force, fraud, or coercion in the sex trafficking of a minor under the age of 18. In situations involving minors, evidence of force, coercion or fraud should not be applied. Section 5 of HB 6849 seeks to promote law enforcement efforts by authorizing wiretapping for certain crimes related to trafficking.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Connecticut Children's Alliance, Krystal Rich, Director; strongly supports
Strongly supports HB 6849 for all of the reasons stated by state agencies above. In particular, Rich applauds the bill's change to the statute which allows courts to erase a juvenile's record. She states minor victims of sex trafficking are often made to commit crimes and under current laws, may still face consequences. Rather than blame the victim, the consequences for trafficking need to be placed on those responsible which should be expanded to include those who knowingly assisted, enabled, or financially benefited from domestic minor sex trafficking. These additions in Section 4 are critical as too often, buyers of commercial sex acts with children are not prosecuted.
Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund; supports
Strongly supports HB 6849, specifically for its inclusion of regulations to amend current Connecticut law. Since 2012 the number of survivors of human trafficking, the majority of them women and children, has continued to increase in Connecticut. CWEALF notes the findings of Shared Hope International, as others have testified, as an urgent call to Connecticut's legislature to strengthen protections for victims and expand the scope of those knowingly contributing to the minor sex trafficking industry.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Katie Haggerty
Date: April 16, 2015