Bill targets human trafficking

first_img Bill targets human trafficking Calls on the Bar to educate lawyers about modern slavery A bill toughening penalties for human trafficking has cleared a key committee in the Florida Senate.SB 250, sponsored by Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, passed the Criminal Justice Committee recently, winning praise from members. Among other provisions, the bill calls on The Florida Bar and the Florida Court Education Council to improve education programs for lawyers and judges to help them recognize the victims of modern slavery when they encounter them.“We want to educate our law enforcement and courts that there are people who are being trafficked,” Margolis said. “Some come in on a travel visa and then they disappear. Some are victims of being told they were going to come over and they would have a job and they would have a better life.”But once in this country, their exploiters take away their papers, keep them from communicating with their families in their home country, restrict their movements, control the money they earn, and typically force them into prostitution or domestic servitude, she said.“It’s really a training issue. The courts have to know what to look for and obviously law enforcement needs to know how to look at this,” Margolis said.The bill would also allow human traffickers to be prosecuted under RICO laws, she said.Sen. Fredericka Wilson, D-Miami, said she saw the same television news investigative series on human trafficking that prompted Margolis’ bill, adding she too planned to introduce a bill but Margolis acted first.“I think the part that really got to me was they said 50 to 60 percent of these victims were minors,” she said. “They [traffickers] were going to Brazil and places like that and selling a bill of goods to poor minors.”The committee unanimously passed the bill, which next goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Justice Appropriations Committee. An identical bill, HB 469, has been introduced in the House and referred to four committees. February 15, 2006 Regular News Bill targets human traffickinglast_img read more