Hoeven: Senate Passes Legislation to Support Victims of Human Trafficking, Child Pornography

Includes Senator's Amendment to Help North Dakota Access Fund to Help Victims, Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate has passed legislation he is cosponsoring to help victims of human trafficking and child pornography. The measure also includes an amendment authored by Hoeven that helps North Dakota access federal funding to help victims of human trafficking and the law enforcement officers who are working to stop it.

The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), creates a Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund paid for through fines on persons convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation and human smuggling offenses. The fund will increase the federal resources available for human trafficking victims and law enforcement by up to $60 million over the next five years. The legislation includes a Hoeven amendment to ensure that North Dakota is given fair treatment in competing for grants from the fund.

Hoeven was an early cosponsor of the legislation, which was originally introduced in 2013 and an original cosponsor of the bill when it was reintroduced earlier this year.

The senator also worked to include an amendment in the bill that would help North Dakota victims of human trafficking. North Dakota in recent years has been the fastest growing state in the country in terms of both population and income. Because of its rapid growth, the state has only recently seen an increase in human trafficking issues and has just begun gathering data. The DOJ, however, asks for two years of data from program applicants in support of their request. North Dakota law enforcement can show that human trafficking and exploitation are real problems in the state that need to be addressed in a timely manner. The Hoeven amendment makes clear that applicants cannot be disadvantaged from receiving federal funds if they have only recently begun collecting information on human trafficking victims.

“The bipartisan legislation that we passed today provides important support for victims of human trafficking crimes and for law enforcement officials who are working to prevent these heinous acts,” said Hoeven. “This bill is part of our larger effort to combat human trafficking and child pornography and keep our communities safe. We continue working through legislation like this and annual appropriations bills to provide victims with the services they need and to empower our law enforcement through training and legal reforms to prevent these crimes, protect victims and prosecute offenders. In addition, our amendment ensures that North Dakota gets a fair share of the funding to combat the problem.”

The Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund will provide block grants to help states and local governments develop and implement victim-centered programs that train law enforcement to rescue trafficking survivors, prosecute human traffickers, and restore the lives of victims.

In addition, the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act:

  • Prioritizes victim restoration and witness assistance for trafficking survivors and encourages prosecutor training on restitution in human trafficking cases;
  • Protects victims and witnesses by requiring those accused of human trafficking to be treated as violent criminals for the purposes of pre-trial release and detention;
  • Reduces demand for human trafficking by encouraging police, prosecutors, judges and juries to target all persons involved in the buying and selling of human trafficking victims;
  • Empowers state and local authorities to investigate crimes of child pornography, child sexual exploitation, and human trafficking by allowing them to obtain wiretap warrants in state courts without federal approval; and
  • Ensures regular reporting on the number of human trafficking crimes.

The legislation is supported by a wide range of national victims’ rights and law enforcement groups, including Shared Hope International, Rights 4 Girls, Fraternal Order of Police, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Children’s Alliance, National Criminal Justice Association, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, PROTECT, National Association of Police Organizations, National Conference of State Legislatures.

Senator Hoeven serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee where he works to support programs that help fight crime, improve victim services and enhance resources and tools available to law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels.