Human Trafficking Awareness

By Debra Allen-Ba

On March 10, 2016 Governor Inslee signed in to law two Senate bills relating to human trafficking, adding to the forty previously enacted anti-trafficking laws passed between 2002 and 2015.  In 2002, Washington was the first state in the United States to create a task force with the purpose of creating safety measures for nonresident persons recruited by international organizations for the purpose of trafficking and to define human trafficking crimes at a state level.  Then, in 2003 the state was again the first to enact a state crime of human trafficking.  The State of Washington has been recognized by international organizations as being among the very top states in the country for anti-trafficking advocacy and legislation.

These two new human trafficking laws work to strengthen definitions of “trafficking” and to increase awareness of this issue.  Senate Bill 5342 was an act amending RCW 19.320.010 relating to human trafficking definitions.  The bill clarifies the definition of “human trafficking” as a means or an act conducted for the purpose of exploitation, including forced labor, by particular means, for example threat of use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception, abuse of power, or abuse of position of vulnerability. The Senate Bill 6376 was an act to reenact and amend RCW 1.16.050 recognizing a human trafficking awareness day.  This bill intends to recognize and honor Washington state’s efforts to reduce human trafficking by designating January 11th of each year as “Human Trafficking Awareness Day”.