(MCC) – Michigan Catholic Conference today offered its appreciation for the state’s effort to curb the practice of human trafficking as Governor Rick Snyder signed into law this morning nearly two dozen bills that seek to restrain this modern day form of slavery. The signing of the bills is a culmination of nearly two years of conversation and work that sought to uphold and defend human dignity by creating new protections and services for survivors of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is an affront to the dignity of the human person, and vulnerable women, men and children deserve greater protection from its harm. The bills signed today address this very real problem from many angles, starting with identifying survivors, ensuring they are not treated as criminals, and connecting them quickly with necessary resources and services,” said Rebecca Mastee, Michigan Catholic Conference Policy Advocate, who advocated for the package of bills throughout the process. “This was a collaborative effort all the way through the legislative process, and for that, credit is due to members on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers and across the executive branch of state government. Michigan Catholic Conference is thankful to Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, Senator Judy Emmons, Representative Kurt Heise and the many Democrats and Republicans that helped to raise awareness about human trafficking and the necessary measures to prevent its occurrence in Michigan.”
Components of the bills signed into law today by Governor Snyder include:
· The creation of a “safe harbor” for minors, which presumes that a person under the age of eighteen, who is charged with prostitution or a similar crime, was coerced into the commercial sexual activity by another person who has engaged in human trafficking;
· The possibility for human trafficking survivors to have their criminal records expunged for certain crimes they committed while being trafficked;
· The opportunity for survivors of human trafficking to receive medical benefits and psychological treatment, as well as medical examination, counseling and adoption services through the Department of Human Services;
· The requirement to register as a sex offender, for those who solicit or engage a prostitute who is under the age of eighteen, in order to curb the demand driving this crime;
· The creation of a formal human trafficking commission to ensure continued analysis of the problem in the state, the training of professionals who encounter survivors, and an increase in public awareness.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.