AG Derek Schmidt announces legislative recommendations to enhance human trafficking prevention efforts in Kansas
Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and Schmidt said he will request reintroduction of two bills that were introduced last year but failed to pass when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended the 2020 legislative session. The first would require posting of the National Human Trafficking Hotline in certain business and public places. Posting of the hotline number, which is 1-888-3737-888, helps connect victims to services and encourages the public to report potential trafficking so an appropriate response can occur. The second bill would change the terminology used to describe crimes associated with trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“Since our state’s first anti-human trafficking law was enacted in 2005, Kansas has worked with strong bipartisan support to make great strides in combating this crime against human dignity,” Schmidt said. “These two proposals will advance the state’s efforts to help identify, support and obtain justice for victims.”
Both bills are a result of recommendations made by the attorney general’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board (HTAB), which includes members of law enforcement, prosecutors, court personnel, advocates, state agency representatives and survivors of human trafficking who have expertise in this field. Since 2013, the HTAB has been tasked with coordinating public awareness and education initiatives, victim identification and support, and development of a statewide collaborative effort across disciplines and jurisdictions to combat human trafficking in Kansas.
Combating human trafficking in Kansas has been a priority for Schmidt. Since he took office in 2011, the state has improved its legal framework and Kansas anti-trafficking laws now are in the top tier of states, as reflected in a national scorecard called the “Protected Innocence Challenge.” The keeper of that scorecard this year is issuing a new and separate challenge for states to begin focusing on more-difficult issues such as the criminal justice system’s handling of sex-trafficking victims who themselves commit crimes that victimize others. The Legislature began discussions of that subject last session, and Schmidt said he anticipates those discussions to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Each year, January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It involves recruiting, harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas and both adults and children are victims.
To request additional information about human trafficking or to learn more about potential signs of human trafficking, go to http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking or contact the attorney general’s victim services toll-free hotline at (800) 828-9745 Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.