HEADLINES: Trafficking

Earlier this month, Washington State and Backpage.com settled a lawsuit  The state had passed legislation requiring online advertising companies to verify the age of those involved in sex-related transactions.  However, “U.S district Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled the law violated the U.S Constitution and section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act, which protects interactive online services from liability for material posted by other people.”  The state will pay Backpage.com, an online destination for prostitution ads, $200,000 for attorney’s fees.  Anti-trafficking activists were disappointed by the decision, and are pressuring for continued legal action against the company and the eventual shut down of its adult entertainment section.  After intense pressure, Backpage’s parent company, Village Voice Media, cut ties with the website earlier this year.  [Seattle Times]

Three brothers were extradited from their home country of Mexico to face sex trafficking charges in the United States.  The 25-count indictment was hailed as a great success, as the brothers were charged with sex trafficking and interstate prostitution of victims as young as 14.  The extraditions are a part of a comprehensive effort by the Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative, which includes ICE, DOJ, Homeland Security investigations, and NGOs in both the United States and Mexico.  The program has resulted in “the indictment of 52 defendants on sex trafficking charges and has rescued over 100 victims, including 17 minors.”  The success of the program has hinged on the ability of the US and Mexico to collaborate to “bring high-impact prosecutions under both U.S and Mexican law to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S-Mexico border.”  [CNN]

Earlier this week, on Human Rights Day, Delaware Senator Chris Coons addressed the Senate “regarding the problem of human rights, violence against women, and human trafficking.”  He called on the chamber to uphold basic human rights by passing both the reauthorization of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), and the reauthorization of the  TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act), saying, “there are two things we can do between now and the end of this calendar year that will make a significant contribution to human rights and to the U.S global leadership.”  [Examiner]

At the fall meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures held last week in Washington, Academy Award-winning actress and human trafficking UN goodwill ambassador Mira Sorvino urged the lawmakers present to enact more state-level legislation against trafficking.  She said “that more state laws are needed to augment current federal laws and to provide victims’ services.  State legislation, she said, would also aid local law enforcement in the crucial step of identifying instances of human trafficking.”  While she praised the 28 states that have enacted anti-trafficking laws over the past year, she lamented the fact that not “a single state has adopted all 10 recommended measures.”  She also called for law enforcement to treat underage sex workers as victims of trafficking.  Wyoming is the only US state that has no state-level anti-trafficking legislation. [Huffpost]

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