Portman Continues to Combat Human Trafficking
One week after passing Senator Rob Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution authored by Senator Portman and Senator Claire McCaskill to hold Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer in civil contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a with a subpoena for documents about the company’s business practices, particularly how it screens advertisements for warning signs of sex trafficking.
Senator Portman has been a leader in the effort to combat human trafficking. He founded the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking in 2013 and serves as co-chair of the group. He is the author of five federal anti-trafficking laws—signed by President Obama—that are designed to make a real difference in better serving victims and helping law enforcement to combat this horrific crime. Here are the five laws:
- Bringing Missing Children Home Act, which was signed into law in May 2015 requires law enforcement to include a photograph in every missing child report, and update the records of missing children with other information relevant to the investigation within 30 days (previously 60 days).
- Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act (enacted May 2015) requires law enforcement and child welfare workers to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children immediately when a child goes missing from care. This legislation also amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to ensure that child victims of sex trafficking are considered victims of child abuse, not criminals. CAPTA state plans must also contain provisions and procedures requiring identification and assessment of all reports involving children known or suspected to be victims of sex trafficking, training for child protective services workers to identify and provide comprehensive services for victims and a description of efforts to coordinate with state law enforcement, juvenile justice, and social service agencies such as runaway and homeless youth shelters.
- Combat Human Trafficking Act (enacted May 2015) improves training on the investigation and prosecution of those who purchase sex from minors. This law expands state and federal wiretapping authority in human trafficking investigations, increases penalties, and holds both sellers and buyers of sex strictly liable, which will strengthen the rights of victims.
- End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (enacted December 2012) requires federal contractors to implement trafficking prevention programs and strengthens oversight and investigation of trafficking reports to eliminate trafficking on federal grants and contracts. This law enhances prevention, accountability, and enforcement with regard to labor abuses by government contractors.
- Child Sex Trafficking Amendment Signed Into Law as Part of Violence Against Women Act (enacted March 2013) establishes that child victims of sex trafficking are eligible to receive help under Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants.
He strongly supported the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as well as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Acts, two bills signed into law last year.
In February, Senator Portman visited Freedom a la Cart, a business in Columbus that hires and trains survivors of human trafficking, including victims who had been trafficked through Backpage.com and other websites. It is just one visit among many that are part of his efforts to address this issue and combat these horrific crimes. Yesterday’s unanimous passage of Senator Portman’s contempt resolution will advance the bipartisan investigation into Backpage’s practices and give lawmakers better information about how to make Ohioans safer from the threat of human trafficking on Backpage.com and other websites.