HONOLULU – Hawaii lawmakers agreed to pass HB1926 out of conference committee Thursday; a measure which made global headlines exposing a loophole in Hawaii statues that allows police officers to legally have sex with prostituted persons during the course of an investigation of prostitution or sex trafficking.
Human trafficking experts and advocates of the bill maintain that the act of sex is not necessary to prove either prostitution or trafficking. HB1926 was co-drafted by Kathryn Xian and Kris Coffield of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, before the start of session.
Among the several new rules to protect victims of trafficking which HB1926 provides, the measure also establishes tougher penalties for patrons, or “johns,” of prostitution or sex trafficking—an effort to stem the demand-side of this multi-billion dollar criminal industry.
HB1926 establishes enhanced sentences for repeat offenders who promote prostitution or who solicit sex from children, imposes a $5000 on the adults who solicit sex from minors, and excludes adults who solicit sex from minors from using a deferred acceptance or no contest plea to obtain an expunged record after six months good behavior.
Both House and Senate Judiciary committees agreed to delete the last minute Safe Harbor provision introduced into the bill earlier in conference and will seek to build a better proposal with all stakeholders for the 2015 legislative session. Consideration was given due to concerns regarding the lack of residential program services available for sex trafficked youth, which is required for an effective Safe Harbor law to be instituted.
“We are very happy with the results of the conference committee regarding HB1926. It’s been a long struggle for the protection of Hawaii’s trafficked survivors, but today we took another big step toward justice and eliminating the biases against the victims of the world’s oldest oppression,” said Kathryn Xian executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery and a democratic candidate for Congress in Hawaii’s district 1.
The bill now heads to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s desk for signing into law.
The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS), is a Hawaii-based not-for-profit 501(c)3 whose mission is to stop Human-Trafficking in Hawaii and the Pacific. PASS provides services and advocacy for survivors of Human-Trafficking, education and training on the identification of victims of Human-Trafficking, and public awareness and prevention education for the greater community.