Human trafficking bill awaits action by Governor Lingle

Jamie Winpenny

HONOLULU—Senate Bill 2045, known also as the “human trafficking bill,” has passed through the Legislature and now sits on Governor Linda Lingle’s desk. Lingle is, by law, obligated to either sign the bill into law, let it pass into law without her signature, or veto the bill by a July 6 deadline.

Before reaching the governor, Senate Bill 2045 sat in conference, where it was revised by legislators after the House and Senate Judiciary Committees indicated their concerns with the bill. Among the changes made were eliminating a provision that criminalized patrons, or “johns,” of trafficked children and adults. Also eliminated from the bill were provisions criminalizing traffickers of labor (not sex trade related), and mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers of children and adults.

Kathryn Xian of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery has been at the forefront of efforts to get Senate Bill 2045 passed into law, and while she is hopeful that it will become law, she is wary of the bill’s opponents, which include both the State Attorney General’s Office and the City Prosecutor’s Office. She points out that if Lingle vetoes the bill, she would be the first governor to veto a human trafficking bill in the United States.

“The reasons for opposition to the bill remains a mystery,” says Xian. “We’ve successfully refuted every argument against it.”

The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery began taking trafficking victim referrals in December of 2009, and has since received seventeen cases, three of which are children. All of the victims are female.