NCJFCJ on the Historic Approval of the JVTA Act in the Fight Against Trafficking

June 4, 2015

On May 29th, President Obama signed anti-trafficking legislation, the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act (JVTA) into law. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is in full support of this historic passing of the critical bill into law that will create a federal fund for victims’ services and law enforcement tools financed by fines imposed on convicted traffickers. This bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate, with a 99-0 vote, and then passed the U.S. House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 420-3. “As this critical legislation becomes law, victims of child sex trafficking will receive services to promote their safety while providing them the assistance they need and deserve,” said Judge Peggy H. Walker, President of the NCJFCJ.

“Having the nation’s leaders put their focus and finances to help combat this heinous crime is essential,” said Melissa Holland, founder and director of Awaken INC. in Reno. “It helps bring awareness to understanding that this is a national and local issue as well as mobilize communities and organizations to provide the necessary resources to bring restitution for the victims of sex trafficking.”

“JVTA marks a pivotal step forward in the fight against human trafficking,” said Yasmin Vafa, director of law and policy for the national human rights organization, Rights4Girls. “The legislation provides millions of dollars for victim services and ends the culture of impunity for those who buy sex with underage youth. JVTA also recognizes the critical role that judges play in restoring children's lives by promoting specialized courts and diversion programs as well as judicial training to improve outcomes for trafficked and exploited youth.”

Human trafficking of children and minors is one of the most heinous acts of child abuse; and in 2013, the NCJFCJ passed a resolution to call for judicial action to address this growing problem. Last month, the NCJFCJ hosted a consortium of more than 50 judicial officers from across the U.S. for their second institute addressing domestic child sex trafficking in Minneapolis, Minn. The NCJFCJ continues to work with partners such as Rights4Girls and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, among others, to develop resources and training opportunities for judges and court personnel.

The NCJFCJ is pleased to see this monumental day where the JVTA will provide restitution to the survivors of human trafficking, reduce demand for sex trafficking by calling on law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute buyers, and encourage cross-system collaboration between law enforcement, child welfare systems, juvenile justice officials, courts and victim service organizations.

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