Pa. takes steps to toughen laws on human trafficking

Written by Tim Lambert and Radio Pennsylvania | Jul 14, 2014 1:24 PM
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Photo by AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

(Harrisburg) -- Recently-signed legislation is designed to crack down on human trafficking in Pennsylvania.

The law provides prosecutors with a more accurate definition of the crime.

Prosecutors are hoping the new measure leads to more arrests and convictions and strengthens protections for victims during any court processes as well as afterward in the form of civil cases against traffickers.

State Senator Andy Dinniman of Chester County says the bill is a big step forward.

"It ends human trafficking, the modern-day version of slavery. It ends it by having a clear definition," he says. "It ends it by letting it be known that we can prosecute people...we can hold them accountable for their actions."

The number of victims across the country is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands. But, Dinniman says it's an issue across the globe.

"There are 18 million victims of human trafficking today, including those in the United States," he says. "This has become the largest illegal activity in the world."

Pennsylvania is often referred to as a "pass through" state for victims of sex and labor trafficking. Law enforcement says human traffickers take advantage of the interstate highway system of transport their victims to other regions.

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