Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, reintroduced bipartisan legislation to crack down on addiction-driven human trafficking.
The Protecting Rights of Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking Act would specifically address the use of drugs to facilitate human trafficking and protect vulnerable victims of trafficking. The bill is also cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, Dianne Feinstein, D-Califf., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the horrors of human trafficking,” Klobuchar stated in a news release. “The PROTECT Act gives law enforcement the tools to help ensure that traffickers who use drugs and substance use to control their victims are held accountable. Our bipartisan legislation also protects victims by recognizing that they are not criminals, their abusers are.”
According to the release, human traffickers often introduce or exploit drug addiction to control or force victims into prostitution or forced labor. This compounds the trauma experienced by human trafficking victims and undermines recovery efforts for individuals suffering from addiction. The PROTECT Act would combat this by:
- Amending existing human trafficking law to specify that the use of drugs or illegal substances to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act or forced labor constitutes a form of coercion; and,
- Including a provision in the bill to protect trafficking victims from prosecution, recognizing that victims are often forced to commit crimes by virtue of their own victimization.