PASS Alliance Comments on Veto of SB265
Governor David Ige’s plan to veto SB265, in relation to sex trafficking, has not been well received by advocacy groups, including the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.
The group says that Governor Ige’s decision would kill the bill, which would have been “Hawai’i’s first and only victim-centered anti sex trafficking law.”
On Monday, during the veto press meeting, Governor Ige noted loopholes and potential cases that would make sex trafficking offenses more difficult to prove.
However, PASS members believe the reasoning is misleading.
“The governor’s statement is misleading, and clarifies that the Honolulu Prosecutor, Keith Kaneshiro, wants to retain the ability to criminalize the victims of sex trafficking to force them to testify against their traffickers no matter how much danger that puts the victims in. This is why he believes the bill to be ‘flawed,’ because SB265 would restrict the Prosecutor from using this ineffective and abusive tactic.”
Governor Ige intends to have county prosecutors and the attorney general draft a “better bill.”
PASS’ concern is that the Attorney General will not come through on the draft, instead creating a sex trafficking law for cosmetic value while maintaining the existing promoting prostitution law, in efforts to “appease the prosecutor – a statute upholding a system which is far from victim centered or effective.”
SB265 was a product of a legislative working group coordinated by Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland. The working group consisted of members from the Prosecutor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, state agencies, and service providers.
PASS is a Hawai’i-based non-profit group who maintains the mission of stopping human trafficking in Hawai’i and the Pacific. Services and advocacy for survivors of human trafficking, education and training to service providers, and awareness and prevention education for the community are among the services PASS provides.