New Legislation


On October 28, 2000, former President Bush signed into law the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This new law, which was passed virtually unanimously by both houses of Congress, addresses issues of worker exploitation resulting from trafficking in persons. This law is the culmination of the federal government's efforts through the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force , an interagency group that brings the FBI, INS, Department of Labor and other agencies together to remedy a problem with both domestic and global dimensions, primarily involving women and children as victims.

The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, which enforces slavery and peonage statutes that were initially enacted over 100 years ago, was highly involved in drafting this new legislation. The new law expands the definition of forced labor to reach the more insidious forms of coercion occurring in contemporary times, thus enabling the Section to come to the aid of more victims and to bring more cases than allowed under prior laws.

Here are some highlights of the new statute as they affect the Criminal Section's enforcement responsibilities:

  • creates new laws that criminalize trafficking with respect to slavery, involuntary servitude, peonage or forced labor
  • permits prosecution where nonviolent coercion is used to force victims to work in the belief they would be subject to serious harm
  • permits prosecution where the victim's service was compelled by confiscation of documents such as passports or birth certificates
  • increases prison terms for all slavery violations from 10 years to 20 years and adds life imprisonment where the violation involves the death, kidnaping, or sexual abuse of the victim
  • requires courts to order restitution and forfeiture of assets upon conviction
  • enables victims to seek witness protection and other types of assistance
  • gives prosecutors and agents new tools to get legal immigration status for victims of trafficking during investigation and prosecution
Updated August 6, 2015

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