Friday, June 26, 2009

Rhode Island passes two bills to strengthen laws against sex trafficking

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The House and Senate Thursday night approved two separate bills to strengthen the law against sex-trafficking minors.

The House, by a vote of 66-to-0, approved a bill (H-5661 Sub A) introduced by Rep. Joanne M. Giannini, D-Providence.

The Senate voted 34 to 0 to approve a separate bill (S-605 Sub A) introduced by Sen. Rhoda E. Perry, D-Providence.

One identical bill must pass both the House and Senate to become law.

"At least we have a chance it will pass,'' Kimberly Harris, co-chair of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking, said after the vote. "I 'm grateful that both bills passed today ... and I hope the same spirit of compromise will continue when the leadership combines both bills."

The two bills -- both designed to strengthen the 2007 law against sex-trafficking -- differ in several key respects.

Giannini's bill covers trafficking of forced labor for work that doesn't involve sex.
Perry's bill includes a provision -- not included in Rep. Gianinni's bill -- that would create a trafficking-in-persons task force to develop an assessment protocol for identifying victims of trafficking.

The task force, to be headed by the Rhode Island Commission on Women, would include members of law enforcement, representatives from the state health and labor departments, as well as victims' advocates and the director of the National Association of Social Workers.

Original Story from The Providence Journal.

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