Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced her sponsorship of legislation to combat human trafficking Wednesday, Assembly Bill 1731 by Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego.
The bill creates the Statewide Interagency Human Trafficking Task Force, which would be a permanent collaborative entity led by the California Department of Justice in partnership with other government agencies.
“Human trafficking is one of the world’s most heinous and profitable criminal enterprises,” said Attorney General Harris. “This legislation will help combat human trafficking by ensuring coordination between a wide range of agencies and partners. I applaud Speaker Emeritus Atkins for fighting this abhorrent crime.”
The task force created through AB 1731 is a successor to the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS), a temporary entity established by AB 22 (Lieber) in 2006. That bill, which was sponsored by Attorney General Harris while she served as San Francisco District Attorney, made human trafficking a crime in the state, provided restitution to trafficking victims, and directed the CA ACTS to produce the first comprehensive report on human trafficking in California.
In 2012, Attorney General Harris temporarily reconstituted a Human Trafficking Work Group to publish a second report. Both reports dramatically expanded the state’s understanding of the scope and nature of modern day slavery, and the Attorney General has since sponsored previous legislation based on their findings.
As a sponsor of AB 1731, Attorney General Harris will assist Speaker Emeritus Atkins in developing a new task force that builds on the success of California’s previous collaborative models. This permanent entity demonstrates a long-term commitment from California to ending both sex and labor trafficking within the state. The task force’s initial priorities will be to identify data-driven solutions to combatting slavery, improving interagency cooperation, and increasing public awareness.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it will take vigilance, collaboration, and hard work among many different sectors to end it,” said Speaker Emeritus Atkins. “Attorney General Harris’ backing of this legislation will go a long way in ensuring California develops the kind of taskforce we need to effectively battle human trafficking in our state.”
In addition to her sponsorship of AB 1731, Attorney General Harris also announced her support for AB 1730 by Speaker Emeritus Atkins, a bill to establish housing programs that provide trauma-informed mental health services for child sex trafficking victims. Both bills unanimously passed out of Assembly Public Safety Committee last week.
Attorney General Harris has made fighting human trafficking a priority for the California Department of Justice. Last year, the Office of the Attorney General released a Resource Guide to help companies comply with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, a law requiring large retailers and manufacturers in California to post their supply chain policies online. In 2014, Attorney General Harris released Gangs Beyond Borders, a report that highlighted the growing role of transnational criminal organizations in the human trafficking underground economy.
In February 2015, Attorney General Harris created the Bureau of Children’s Justice to enforce criminal and civil laws to hold those who prey on children accountable; work with local, state, and national stakeholders to increase support for vulnerable children; and identify and pursue improvements to policies impacting children. One of the Bureau’s core priorities is human trafficking of vulnerable youth, including foster children.
For more information on the Attorney General’s work on human trafficking, visit oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking.