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AG Derek Schmidt praises passage of bill to strengthen Kansas response to human trafficking

Release Date: May 11, 2017

TOPEKA – (May 11, 2017) –Legislation approved today by the Legislature will strengthen the Kansas response to human trafficking, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Schmidt praised legislators of both political parties for their unanimous show of support for anti-human trafficking efforts. The measure, Senate Bill 40, won final approval today 40-0 in the Senate after previously being approved 120-0 by the House of Representatives. It now will be presented to the governor for his consideration.

The legislation provides for several changes in law relating to minor victims of human trafficking, strengthening enforcement efforts, discouraging demand, and expanding awareness training. Among its key provisions are:

  • 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 it easier for minors who are trafficked to expunge criminal convictions arising from their conduct while being trafficked and to qualify for crime victims assistance.
  • Making explicit that minors cannot consent to being trafficked.
  • Strengthening 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.
  • Increasing 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.

“Enactment of this important legislation should help Kansas reach the top tier of states leading the fight against human trafficking,” Schmidt said. "These changes provide important 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, who proposed the legislation in February, worked with legislators and other interested parties across the state and with national anti-trafficking organizations in crafting it.

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.

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.

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 .

 

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