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The Republican candidate for attorney general wants to make human trafficking a standalone felony offense.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, the Republican candidate for attorney general, on Tuesday rolled out his plan to combat human trafficking, which he called the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating annual revenue of $32 billion.
“Human trafficking is the next front in the fight against child predators, with the average age of those entering prostitution being 13 and younger,” Obenshain said in a press call joined by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R- Fairfax County.
“Human trafficking is a global calamity, but here in Virginia, we are going to do everything in our power to end this terror and offer victims a chance at a new and better life,” he said.
If elected, Obenshain wants to make human trafficking a standalone felony offense, ensuring that prosecutors have the means to bring traffickers to justice, add offenders engaging in commercial sex with a minor to the sex offender registry and extend asset forfeiture laws to human trafficking, with proceeds deposited in a fund to cover investigative costs and compensate victims.
Obenshain’s plan would also ensure victim compensation, creating a civil cause of action for victims; and help establish a human trafficking task force to assist prosecutors, collect and publish trafficking data, produce educational materials, and review policy.
Human trafficking is a reality in Virginia that must be confronted, Wolf said. “It’s insufficient to simply acknowledge it. The evidence abounds and we can no longer say we did not know; the only question is what we will do about it.”
As many as 100,000 children are trafficked in the United States every year, the Obenshain campaign said. In Virginia, according to the campaign, 465 calls were placed to the Human Trafficking Hotline last year, pertaining to 91 potential trafficking situations and 60 potential victims.
In 2011, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation to combat human trafficking and help victims.
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