Press Releases

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has introduced the Protecting Child Trafficking Victim Witnesses Act, legislation that works to ensure children who are the victims of human trafficking are afforded the same protections that other child abuse victims are in court. 

While our country has made strides in the fight against child trafficking, victims are still sometimes viewed as criminals by those who do not understand the complexities of this despicable crime. This distorted view can lead to victims not being granted certain protections that prevent re-traumatization afforded to other child victim witnesses. The child’s statement is a critical tool for the prosecution, as it helps the court fully understand the trafficking scheme. 

That is why Heller authored the Protecting Child Trafficking Victim Witnesses Act, legislation that provides resources to establish victim-centered protocols to strengthen protections for child trafficking victims testifying against their trafficker. These protections can include the opportunity to testify via Closed Circuit Television or videotaped deposition as well as limiting the number of individuals present during the child’s testimony. These protections can also include providing a child with a victim witness advocate who is there to support the minor and ensure they have access to the necessary services.

“Trafficking victims are victims, not criminals, and it is critical that this is understood by society and throughout our systems,” said Heller. “As we work to rid our state, country, and world of the heinous crime of human trafficking, we must protect its victims. When a child trafficking victim is testifying against their trafficker, they must be treated like every other child victim witness. Our court system can and should prioritize the safety and well-being of these victims while delivering justice.”

Heller has championed several policies that protect victims of violent crimes, including the Justice Served Act, which was recently signed into law. The Justice Served Act authorizes federal funding under the Debbie Smith Act, to prosecute the rape kit backlog, resolve cold cases, and help exonerate those who were wrongfully convicted. Heller is a co-author of the Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act, legislation to continue the program’s testing of DNA evidence and ensure that Nevada receives critical funding to help reduce the backlog of DNA evidence. A full background on Heller’s efforts to empower victims of crimes can be found below.  

Background on Sen. Heller’s additional efforts to empower victims of crimes:

 

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