Law to forbid human trafficking
Bill passes in second and third readings in Justice Committee, includes for first time category 'trafficking of human beings,' trafficking of organs, and employing workers in slavery conditions. Chairman of committee: 'Law puts Israel in line with enlightened countries of world'
The bill was initiated jointly by MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and the parties and members of the coalition. The central innovation of the new law is a broadened definition of human trafficking, which, until now, only including trafficking of women. The definition will now include workers employed under coercive conditions in other industries. The punishment set in the law for violations is 16 years imprisonment, 20 years if a minor is involved.
At the behest of the chairman of the committee, Menahem Ben-Sasson, the committee members defined for the first time in Israeli law the concept of slavery as "a condition in which the same authorities over a person are applied as those applied when there is ownership of a person." This is a new definition for the term modern slavery, and corresponds to the definition of the term in international treaties.
Ben-Sasson said to Ynet at the end of the meeting that the new law puts Israel in line with the enlightened countries of the world. "This is handling a problem that is one of the largest problems of crime and corruption in the world. In the law there is wording characteristic of the modern world, such as slave trafficking, coercive employment, and responsibility of the global village for the oppressed and the weak," he said.
'A very large black market in Israel'
The law's initiator, MK Gal-On, said, "This is an unprecedented law meant as an arrangement for the human struggle in a comprehensive and inclusive way. The law expresses the decisive commitment of the state to fight the pimps and traffickers of women's bodies for prostitution, as well as those who employee immigrants in slavery conditions, and organ traffickers."
Director of the project for work immigrants and refugees within the organization Doctors for Human Rights, Ran Cohen, said that the most essential change in the law is in taking broker's fees for finding work. "Until now, they would bring over foreign workers and would charge them exorbitant prices adding up to thousands of dollars. These high broker's fees brought about a phenomenon in which charlatans would bring foreign workers to Israel, but wouldn't go to the trouble to find them work afterwards. Ultimately, what happened was that the workers, that would take out huge loans in their home country, would be stuck in Israel without papers and without work."
Cohen explained, "Every situation like this was illegal from the get go. It is forbidden to charge broker's fees as a condition for employment, but this was based on regulations from the 50s that were never enforced. There is a very large black market in Israel that takes broker's fees. From now on, this isn't just a violation of employment law, but is a violation of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of taking broker's fees."
Miri Chason contributed to this report.