TO HELP END HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Fifteen years since the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking Act which signaled the CNMI’s oneness with the world in joining the global fight against human trafficking, the islands still have yet to see the modern slavery problem fully eradicated.
At the proclamation of January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month last Friday, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios encouraged the entire CNMI to band together and raise awareness about this heinous crime against humanity.
“I urge residents to reach out to victims, and show them there is support and help available for them,” Palacios said. “These are our islands. We will not allow fear in our community. We will not stand idly by as the basic human rights of others are destroyed.”
It was acknowledged at the proclamation signing that the CNMI may have already gained some momentum toward ending human trafficking but there is still more to be done. It was pointed out at the proclamation signing that as much as 24.9 million people are trafficked globally, including in the United States, where adults and children get exploited through forced labor or commercial sex.
“The evil of human trafficking must be defeated. We remain relentless in our resolve to bring perpetrators to justice, to protect survivors and help them heal, and to prevent further victimization and destruction of innocent lives,” the proclamation reads.
Attorney General Edward Manibusan acknowledged that human trafficking also exists in the CNMI. “There is no question that in our community, and communities elsewhere, human trafficking is prevalent. You can find it in bars and spas, massage parlors, in construction industries. Almost everywhere, they could be found, but they are all hidden.”
Manibusan said that raising awareness about the issue in the community is important as it is the one way that the issue can come to light. With the community’s participation and recognition that human trafficking exists, the community can be better served and be made more safe, he said, where people cannot be used for purposes of gratification and for profit.
“If you see something, say something,” Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law executive director Pamela Brown said. “We have people here in the community ready to help.”
To report human trafficking, call the CNMI Crime Stoppers Hotline at 234-7272 or Karidat Social Services at 234-6981.