FOSTA/SESTA May Be Behind Drop In Sex Trafficking Prosecutions

LOS ANGELES—Federal sex trafficking prosecutions dropped for the second straight year in 2019, the first time there has been two straight annual drops since the Trafficking Victims Protection Act took effect 20 years ago, according to a report by Law360. According to one expert, the 2018 FOSTA/SESTA law, which was designed to curb sex trafficking online, may be responsible for the drop by making if more difficult for law enforcement to track down traffickers. “There was always a question of what was going to be the practical impact of that legislation,” Lindsey Roberson, a to lawyer for the Human Trafficking Institute told Law360. Roberson added that there has been “no evidence that there’s a decrease in prevalence” of sex trafficking crimes — only that they are no longer being prosecuted in federal courts as vigorously as prior to 2018. Sex trafficking prosecutions dropped by 14 percent in 2019, meaning that overall prosecutions have fallen by nearly 33 percent since 2017. The FOSTA/SESTA law took effect in April of 2018. Prosecutions for labor trafficking remained steady, according to the statistics issued by the Human Trafficking Institute. Only sex trafficking prosecutions declined.  Roberson noted that the exact cause of the decline could not be determined, though the FOSTA/SESTA law may have made it tougher on investigators to identify and pursue traffickers through online postings that appeared on such outlets as the now-shuttered Backpage.com.  The cause may also be a reshuffling of federal priorities under the Donald Trump administration. In 2018, prosecutions of sex traffickers who traffic in children plunged by about 27 percent, according to a Courthouse News report. Under the Barack Obama administration, child sex trafficking prosecutions ramped up sharply, tripling from Obama’s first year in office, 2009, to his final year, 2016. According to the Courthouse News report, the Trump administration has tried to curtail a visa program for immigrants who are sex trafficking survivors. Rollbacks in those visas could also lead to a drop in prosecutions, because witnesses must be available to testify, and are more likely to do so when they feel that the U.S. government in protecting them. Under the visa program, survivors would be granted legal U.S. residency for four years, and could receive food stamps, job training, and a pathway to citizenship for themselves as their families. Photo By Office of Congresswoman Ann Wagner / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: FOSTA/SESTA May Be Behind Drop In Sex Trafficking Prosecutions | AVN