Wagner: Helping Trafficking Survivors Rebuild Their Lives and Find Justice

May 23, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) released the below statement following unanimous passage of her legislation, Put Trafficking Victims First Act of 2017, in the U.S. House of Representatives today:

 

“Victims of trafficking have endured horrific trauma, violence, and abuse, but they continue to be overlooked and underserved. This must stop. Victims need help to rebuild their lives and that’s what the Put Trafficking Victims First Act does—improves support, identification, and services for victims of this egregious crime. America needs to afford trafficking victims the same justice, protections, and dignity that other crime victims receive.”

 

This bill, H.R. 2473, advances a survivor-centered approach to addressing human trafficking that ensures the safety, confidentiality, and well-being of victims. It encourages stakeholders to recognize symptoms of trauma that may impact victims’ interactions with law enforcement, the justice system, and service providers. The legislation:

 

·         Trains government agencies, law enforcement, and prosecutors to implement victim-centered approaches to investigating and preventing trafficking.

·         Evaluates state “safe harbor laws” that are meant to protect child trafficking victims from being treated like criminals.

·         Establishes a working group to develop methodologies to determine trafficking prevalence and trends, and evaluate how to identify victims and address their needs.

·         Establishes a survey of survivors so we can better understand how victims access help. 

·         Directs the Department of Justice to make mandatory restitution for trafficking victims truly mandatory and implement victim-friendly procedures in federal criminal cases.

·         Encourages states to improve outreach to victims; screen vulnerable children and foreign nationals who may be trafficked; provide shelter and housing to victims; fully prosecute sellers and buyers; develop emergency response plans; and pass laws to give trafficking victims the ability to vacate criminal records related to non-violent offenses they were forced to commit.

 

Read the full text here