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U.S. Senate passes legislation against sex trafficking

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Thursday passed the first major U.S. legislation to curb international sex trafficking.

Hailing the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 on the Senate floor, co-sponsor Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, called human trafficking "the ugly side of globalization."

Brownback cited recent CIA figures, which indicate that as many as 50,000 women and children are brought to the United States to work in prostitution or forced labor every year.

He predicted that revenue from human trafficking could exceed revenue from drug trafficking in the near future.

"It has been coldly observed," Brownback said, "that drugs are sold only once, while a woman can be sold twenty or thirty times a day."

The other co-sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota, said the bill aims to curb trafficking with three major planks: prevention, protection and prosecution.

The legislation provides for public education campaigns in countries the U.S. State Department has determined have the highest rates for trafficking women.

It also makes it easier for women who have been brought to the U.S. as prostitutes to step forward.

"Before, they had to worry about being deported," Wellstone said, but the new legislation would protect them for three years from being deported after turning themselves in with a special non-immigrant visa.

Finally, the legislation makes it a crime to operate as a trafficker in the United States.

The act passed by unanimous consent. A similar bill has already passed the House of Representatives.

The legislation could be signed into law later this year.

"This is the new modern form of slavery," Brownback said.

The following are the major provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000:

-- Requires the State Department to include information about countries involved in "severe forms of trafficking in persons" in its annual country reports.

-- Creates an interagency task force to monitor and combat trafficking led by the Secretary of State. The task force would oversee the implementation of the trafficking law.

-- Allows non-citizens who are trafficking victims to stay in the U.S. under a special non-immigrant visa so that their case can be prosecuted.

-- Authorizes the U.S. to establish standards for the elimination of trafficking for other countries and authorizes the president to put sanctions on the countries that do not meet those standards.

-- Provides life imprisonment for sex trafficking in children if the victim is under 14 and imprisonment up to 20 years if the victim is 14-18.


Thursday, July 27, 2000


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