TOPEKA – (February 10, 2017) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today proposed new legislation to further strengthen the Kansas response to human trafficking.
“Since our state’s first anti-human trafficking law was enacted in 2005, Kansas has made great strides in combating this crime against human dignity,” Schmidt said. “But there is more we can do. Kansas should be in the top tier of states leading the fight against human trafficking, and this legislation will help us get there.”
Combating human trafficking in Kansas has been a priority for Schmidt. While serving in the State Senate, he supported the 2005 legislation that created the first Kansas anti-human trafficking statute and proposed legislation in 2010 that strengthened state law. After being elected attorney general, he joined in 2013 with the governor to propose comprehensive legislation to strengthen Kansas law against human trafficking, and in 2015 he proposed further refinements that became law. The new laws have resulted in more effective prosecution, additional training and better support for victims.
The legislation proposed today suggests several additional changes in Kansas law, including:
- Requiring holders of commercial driver’s licenses to have training in the signs of human trafficking, a step that is part of the Kansas partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking.
- Making explicit that minors cannot consent to being trafficked.
- Making it easier for minors who are trafficked to expunge criminal convictions arising from their conduct while being trafficked.
- Making it easier for minor victims of human trafficking to qualify for crime victims assistance.
- Making several changes to strengthen criminal statutes that prohibit human trafficking and child exploitation, including making it a crime to sell travel services knowing the travel involves ‘sex tourism,’ to use an electronic device to facilitate human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of a child, or to knowingly use the internet to trade in child pornography.
- Strengthening penalties for buying sex with minors and for certain other crimes against children.
- Modifying the fines structure for various sex crimes to encourage their assessment and collection.
“These proposed changes provide tools to strengthen enforcement, discourage demand for trafficking victims, support and assist human trafficking survivors, and help identify this crime when it occurs along our roads and highways,” Schmidt said. “It is a broad and balanced package that addresses multiple aspects of what often is a complex crime.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It is based on recruiting, harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas and both adults and children are victims.
The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 179, has been introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Schmidt said he anticipates the Committee will conduct a hearing on the bill. A copy of the bill is available at http://bit.ly/2ls51EC.
To request additional information about human trafficking or to learn more about potential signs of human trafficking, go to http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking .