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State strengthens human trafficking law

Washington's a top destination for traffickers dealing in forced labor and sex crimes.  New legislation goes into effect today that will strengthen the state’s current human trafficking law.

The new law provides clarity and updates the state’s original human trafficking law which was enacted in 2002.  Now, the definition of the crime is expanded to include the harvest and sale of human organs.  It also broadens the scope of the law to make it possible to go after people who intimidate victims with threats of violence.

State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles introduced the bill.  She says that even though the state had a human trafficking law on the books, it was difficult to get convictions.

“We heard from police officers, law enforcement community, prosecutors that they were having difficulty in enforcing the law of human trafficking and this will give them another tool to be able to do so more effectively,” says Kohl-Welles.

Our state is especially vulnerable to human trafficking because of its proximity to Asia, its vital agricultural community and the international border. The state was first in the country to enact a state law against human trafficking and is one of only two states to obtain a conviction.