Yesterday, Jan. 11, was Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
In its simplest form, human trafficking is about buying and selling people. It exists everywhere around the globe and in different methods. The bottom line is that it is an industry that profits from exploiting people. And it is often and correctly compared with slavery. To better understand who or how a person becomes a victim — and it can be anyone — I urge you to watch this heart-breaking public service announcement.
I have vigorously and persistently led the fight against human trafficking. But unfortunately, the culprits who commit these acts prey upon individuals who are vulnerable, and often underage. That's why as citizens of our community and country, it is our duty to protect them. The goal should be to safeguard them from these predators and help them return to a normal and happy life.
In my attempts to ensure that present and past victims receive help, I have sponsored legislation that tackles the issue of human trafficking head-on.
My legislative efforts include:
- Senate Bill No. 1140. Permits victims and witnesses of human trafficking to testify in criminal proceedings via closed-circuit television; permits judges to make a motion to seek closed-circuit testimony. This helps to protect or at least reduce the severe emotional stress that victims suffer.
- Senate Bill No. 1141. Eliminates statute of limitations for prosecution of human trafficking crimes. Victims often suffer long-term consequences from this experience. The perpetrator should not have a clock that protects them from prosecution after only five years.
- Senate Bill No. 1143. Requires transportation network company drivers to participate in educational training courses on the dangers, harms, and warning signs of human trafficking. Employees of transportation companies are the visual first line of defense. They observe or sense circumstances that many might miss. And they travel along the roadways that traffickers use.
- Senate Bill No. 1211. Provides civil actions against persons or entities profiting from the commission of human trafficking offenses or maintaining victims of such offenses even if they are not acting in concert with the traffickers. This will help stifle passive participants who continue to offer a degree of tacit support.
- Senate Bill No. 2538. Requires commercial driver's license applicants to complete a training course on human trafficking. This is crucial to educating commercial drivers about human trafficking and how it appears in their everyday work life.
In addition to my legislative efforts, I'd like to draw your attention to the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking. This watchdog organization leads the fight against human trafficking in our state, and they deserve our support.
You can help stop human trafficking by reporting suspected cases to federal law enforcement (Para reportar un possible caso de trata de personas), call: 1-866-347-2423.
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888. (Obtenga ayuda de la Línea Directa Nacional de Trata de Personas).
To end this form of modern-day slavery, be alert, observe, and when you see or sense that something isn't right or you know, in fact, that something is wrong, report it. Now.
That's my take, what's yours?