Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking Is Focus of McCaskill-Backed Bill

Senator: ‘We need to do everything we can to protect and support victims of these despicable crimes’

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is backing a bipartisan bill to combat human trafficking and provide support to victims of these crimes. The Abolish Human Trafficking Act strengthens and extends key programs that support victims of human trafficking and provide resources to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking.

“We have a responsibility to protect and support victims of these despicable crimes,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “I’m proud to join colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this legislation that targets perpetrators of human trafficking and helps victims rebuild their lives.”

The Abolish Human Trafficking Act includes key provisions such as:

  • Extending a program that uses fines on convicted human traffickers and sexual predators to provide services to victims;
  • Ensuring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide are trained to recognize victims and refer them to services instead of arresting or prosecuting them;
  • Giving law enforcement additional tools to go after perpetrators of human trafficking.

McCaskill is a leading voice in the Senate fighting to prevent human trafficking and support victims. The new bill she’s backing enhances and expands the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which the Senate passed unanimously in 2015 with a McCaskill-backed amendment that closed a loophole enabling sex offenders convicted under the Uniform Military Code of Justice to evade registering as sex offenders.

While serving as the top-ranking Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, McCaskill led a two-year bipartisan investigation with Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, culminating in a report entitled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking,” which found that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. Following further evidence, McCaskill and Portaman recently called for a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice into Backpage. Earlier this year, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved McCaskill’s bill to require the Department of Homeland Security to issue guidance, develop training programs, and share information across components as part of the agency’s successful Blue Campaign to end human trafficking. McCaskill has also been a key advocate in the Senate for victims of sexual violence and in recent years has crafted bipartisan legislation to curb sexual assault and harassment both in the military and on college and university campuses.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/violence to see more about McCaskill’s work to curb domestic and sexual violence. 

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