Young human trafficking victims could soon testify outside of the courtroom

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

California lawmakers have passed a bill that aims to protect young, vulnerable victims at the center of human trafficking cases in court.

AB 1276 moved out of the Assembly floor on Thursday with a 59-0 vote. It is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

The legislation by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) would allow minors ages 15 or younger to testify through closed-circuit televisions outside the courtroom, where they can share their painful and often traumatic experiences away from the presence of the jury and the defendant.

Of some two dozen human trafficking bills still pending at the state Capitol, Santiago’s has been the one to garner the most support from legislators, advocates and law enforcement. But it had one major opponent, the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the law would violate the constitutional right of defendants to confront their accusers.

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