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Rep. Anchia, Rafael

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Rep. ANCHIA'S HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL PASSES SENATE   print page

by: Rep. Anchia, Rafael
05/26/2009

Bill Allows Victims to Seek Punitive Damages



(Austin, TX) - Today the Senate passed House Bill 533, which will allow victims of human trafficking to sue their traffickers and seek punitive damages from the traffickers and from the organizations involved in trafficking. The bill, which passed the House on a 138-0 vote now heads to the Office of the Governor, and, if signed, will go into effect September 1, 2009.



According to a report by the Office of the Texas Attorney General, human trafficking victims are often compelled to work as prostitutes and exotic dancers, and are made to perform in live-sex shows and in the pornography industry. Additionally, victims of trafficking are often forced to work as domestic help, in the agriculture industry and in sweatshops.



Of the roughly 18,000 people trafficked into the U.S. each year, about 80% are women and girls, and up to 50% of those victims are minors. According to one study, since 2001, over 20% of trafficking victims in the U.S. have been identified in Texas.



"This legislation gives victims an additional avenue for seeking justice and relief." said Anchia, adding, "Because it also allows victims to go after the assets of the the traffickers, it will serve as a powerful tool to help take down the international criminal organizations behind human trafficking."



In addition to punitive damages, the bill also allows victims to seek damages for mental anguish, even if no other injury is shown, and allows victims to sue for court costs and attorney's fees. Because the burden of proof in civil cases is lower than in criminal cases, the bill allows the civil suit to go forward even if the alleged trafficker has not been prosecuted under criminal law.



If passed by the Senate, the bill will take effect September 1, 2007.



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State Representative Rafael Anchia
Tim Dickey
512-463-0746

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