On Wednesday, September 21, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law two bills designed to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The International Human Rights Law Clinic served as legislative counsel to the California Anti-trafficking Initiative, a statewide coalition of service providers that proposed the legislation.
“With the passage of this new law, California has taken the lead in combating the scourge of human trafficking. Other states will look to this law as a model,” says Professor Laurel Fletcher, director of Boalt’s International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) and the Forced Labor Project at UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center. Fletcher supervised IHRLC students Nasrina Bargzie ’05, Shelley Cavalieri ’06, Neha Desai ’06 and Maximino Fuentes ’06 in their work on the project.
The California Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act, AB22, and the related bill SB180, criminalize trafficking as a felony, establish a privilege clause between victim and counselor to facilitate trust-building, provide civil remedies that allow victims of trafficking to receive compensation for damages suffered, and create a statewide task force to review and make recommendations about ways to improve the statewide response to human trafficking. To date the bills are the most comprehensive state legislation enacted in the United States to combat modern-day slavery.