Federal Legislation

Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA)2000
Public Law 106-386, enacted October 28, 2000, created a two-tiered definition of trafficking which included severe forms of trafficking in persons and sex trafficking. This law provided for $95 million, over the course of two years, for the enforcement of anti-trafficking provisions as new assistance programs. Annual reports on trafficking as part of the State Department Country reports on Human Rights were also provided with this law. This law included severe punishments, including up to life imprisonment, and the possibility of severe economic sanctions for those persons convicted of operating trafficking enterprises within the U.S. Authorized grants for shelter and rehabilitation programs, as well as provisions for relief from deportation for victims who face retribution or other hardship if removed from the U.S. With this law an Inter-agency Task Force was established to monitor and combat trafficking, which would facilitate and evaluate progress in trafficking prevention, victims assistance, and the prosecution of traffickers.

Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) 2003
Public Law 108-193, enacted December 19, 2003, reauthorized appropriations for fiscal years 2004 and 2005. This law created a Special Watch List to keep pressure on countries of various Tiers in the trafficking report and added new criteria for the State Department to consider in drafting the trafficking in person report, including evaluating progress from year to year. Human trafficking crime predicated offenses for RICO charges and victims are now allowed to sue their traffickers in U.S. courts. This law required that U.S. Government contracts, relating to international affairs, contain clauses authorizing termination by the United States if the contractor engages in human trafficking or procures commercial sexual services while the contract is in force. This law also requires that the administration inform travelers, of selected locations, about U.S. laws against sex tourism.

Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) 2005
Public Law 109-164, enacted January 10, 2006, provides U.S. courts jurisdiction over federal government employees and contractors for trafficking offenses committed abroad. It has enhanced specified U.S. efforts to combat trafficking in persons, including the prevention of such activities by international peacekeepers. This law requires the Attorney General to study and report to Congress on the prevalence of severe forms of trafficking and sex trafficking in the U.S., and the approach to combat these crimes by law enforcement. A grant program has been established for states and local law enforcement, totaling $50 million in 2006 and 2007 to investigate and prosecute acts of trafficking in persons and criminals who purchase commercial sex acts within the United States. This law is also directed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate acts of: (1) severe forms of trafficking in persons other than domestic trafficking in persons; and (2) domestic trafficking in persons

William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 7311), passed both the House and the Senate on December 10, 2008. The President signed it into law on December 23, 2008, P.L. 110-457, 122 Stat. 5044 (2008). The Act enhances federal efforts to combat both international and domestic traffic in human beings. The bill directs the President to create a system to monitor anti-trafficking efforts and programs at the federal level. There are a number of important expansions to the criminal provisions included in the Act. For example, prosecutors no longer have to prove that a defendant knew the victim was a minor; they just need to show that a defendant had a “reasonable opportunity to observe” the victim. In addition, the standard of proof is lowered to “reckless disregard” for traffickers or defendants who come into contact with victims forced to engage in commercial sex acts. Additional provisions are made to provide assistance for domestic trafficking victims. The Act requires the Department of Justice to create a new model law that based in part on D.C. Criminal Code 22-2701 et seq. making all acts of pimping and pandering per se crimes, even without proof of force, fraud or coercion or a victim’s minor age.

There are a number of new provisions in the Act specific to data collection and reporting. The Act orders the Federal Bureau of Investigation to break down the categories of prostitution and commercialized vice arrests in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) to show how many prostitutes, johns and pimps or traffickers were arrested. Additionally, a new category of “Human Trafficking” will appear in the serious crimes category of the UCR. The Act also requires several new studies from the Department of Justice about the enforcement of laws related to human trafficking.