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CLSR’s Human Rights and Immigration Law Project contributes to new state human-trafficking law

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(Boston, 3/26/12)  New England Law | Boston: Until recently, sex workers were treated as criminals in Massachusetts, one of the few remaining states to criminalize not just the users, but also the prostitutes. Child prostitution has always been illegal, but children in prostitution were also frequently arrested under the old laws. One of the injustices remedied by a new law, which relied on research and recommendations from New England Law | Boston’s Human Rights and Immigration Law Project, is the inclusion of more protections for children and minors.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill, H. 3808, “An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People,” into law in November 2011. It strengthens protections for victims of human trafficking and prostitution and increases the punishment for offenders by carrying a potential life sentence for traffickers of children.
Professor Dina Francesca Haynes, director of the Human Rights and Immigration Law Project, whose courses include Immigration Law, Refugee and Asylum Law, and International Women’s Rights, participated in the bill-drafting process over a multiyear period as a member of the Massachusetts Human Trafficking Working Group.   “This new law has special resonance for members of the immigrant community,” she says, “due to their disproportionate representation among those subject to trafficking and labor exploitation.   The passage of the state law brings Massachusetts’s law enforcement priorities into greater harmony with the federal Trafficking Victim Protection Act, which creates the potential to assist more victims of human trafficking.”
Haynes’s contribution to the bill was aided by two Center for Law and Social Responsibility fellows, Susie Walton ’08 and Adonia Simpson ’09; Simpson represented New England Law at the signing ceremony. “Adonia Simpson is now one of the very few experts in the state on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases involving trafficked children,” notes Haynes, “knowledge gleaned during her tenure as our center fellow, working with Greater Boston Legal Services on these cases.”

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