Committee on Government Lawyers co-sponsors “Human Trafficking and the Commercial Exploitation of Children” seminar

“Human Trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children” was the title of an all-day seminar presented on October 10, 2014, by the Illinois State Bar Association and Baker & McKenzie, LLP. The ISBA’s Committee on Government Lawyers was one of a large number of co-sponsors of the event. The seminar was coordinated by Yolaine M. Dauphin and Annmarie E. Kill and held at the offices of Baker & McKenzie.

Speakers included attorneys, a law professor, a Director of the Salvation Army Promise Program, a federal district court judge, judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County, a retired police detective, clinical psychologists, the Cook County State’s Attorney, and a member of Administer Justice in Elgin. The interdisciplinary approach to the topic brought practical knowledge and a breadth of experience to the attendees.

Among the presenters were Victor Boutros, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.; and Professor Jody Raphael of the DePaul University College of Law. A brief overview of some portions of the laws addressed by these speakers follows.

Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 and amended the statute in 2008. See 18 U.S.C. §1589. The statute focuses on coercion, and section 1589 is entitled “Forced labor.” The statute provides, in summary, that a person who knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person by one or a combination of means listed in the statute is punishable for a violation of the statute. The means listed include: force and threats of force; physical restraint or threats of physical restraint; serious harm or threats of serious harm; abuse or threatened abuse of law or a legal process; or “by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint.” 18 U.S.C. §1589(a). Subsection (b) was added by the 2008 amendment, and provides that benefiters of such forced labor described in (a) violate the statute. Section (b), for instance, refers to persons who knowingly benefit financially or by receiving anything of value from such forced labor. 18 U.S.C. § 1589(b).

Additionally, section 1591 of chapter 18 of the United States Code makes punishable “Sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion.” 18 U.S.C. §1591. The statute applies to persons who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain by any means a person; or who knowingly benefit financially or by receiving anything of value, in relation to a person under 18 years old or by force or threats of force, fraud, or coercion, to engage in a commercial sex act. 18 U.S.C. §1591.

In Illinois, the Safe Children’s Act, effective beginning in 2010, made a number of amendments to the Illinois Criminal Code and provides, for example, immunity from prosecution for a prostitution offense where “it is determined, after a reasonable detention for investigative purposes, that a person suspected of or charged with a violation [of the prostitution provision of the Code] is a person under the age of 18.” 720 ILCS 5/11-14(d). The amendments also focused on having minors considered as neglected and abused children under Illinois law where appropriate. The statute provides that proof that a parent, custodian, or guardian of a minor commits or allows to be committed the offense of involuntary servitude, involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, or trafficking in persons for forced labor or services upon such a minor constitutes prima facie evidence of abuse and neglect. 705 ILCS 405/2-18(2)(k).

Other speakers discussed how these laws have assisted them in working to protect minors and others from the harm caused by human trafficking. The seminar also brought together attendees from a number of disciplines, including law, counseling, and social work, who continue to raise awareness of the harm caused to minors and other vulnerable persons as a result of the actions of traffickers. ■

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April 2015Volume 16Number 2PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)