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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Advocates calls for stronger community response to sex trafficking

The Advocates for Human Rights has issued a “Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota” that finds that Minnesotans are facing a huge challenge in creating an adequate community response to the problem of sex trafficking in the state. As announced at a press conference yesterday by Cheryl Thomas, director of The Advocates Women’s Program, among the group’s recommendations are:

· That the federal definition of sex trafficking be amended to exclude the requirement of force, fraud and coercion – consistent with the Minnesota law;

· That Minnesota law be changed to include all victims of commercial and sexual exploitation, not just those cases where there is sexual contact or penetration involved;

· That there be a widespread effort to provide training and awareness on the issue and that the Legislature provide funding for this purpose;

· That there be increased funding to meet these needs of sex trafficking victims and training to ensure that service providers have the expertise to respond effectively in assisting trafficked persons; and

· That prosecution of sex traffickers and patrons be prioritized at all levels of law enforcement – local, state and federal – and that the sentencing guidelines be amended to increase sentences for these crimes, and that officials prioritize the protection and assistance of trafficked persons over their arrest and prosecution.

The report was prepared at the request of the State of Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force and was to be presented to the task force today at a conference in St. Paul. The task force will meet in October to discuss recommendations to the Commissioner of Public Safety. On Thursday, Sept. 25, the University of St. Thomas School of Law will hold its fall law journal symposium on “Human Trafficking: Global and National Responses to the Cries for Freedom,” although registration for that event is closed.

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