There is an emerging need to scope the problem of human trafficking in the CNMI, which will involve all stakeholders, including the community and government agencies, Alicia A.G. Limtiaco, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and Saipan, said.
Limtiaco was on Capital Hill Friday to attend a proclamation signing on stalking and human trafficking on the islands.
The district attorney said “stalking and human trafficking continue to be major issues on Saipan and that February has been recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month all over the country.”
“These are critical issues, and both crimes have been a concern all over the country,” Limtiaco said in a later interview.
She said that although there are no statistics or number of cases of human trafficking yet, there have been prosecutions in Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands.
Limtiaco said there is a need to have a multidisciplinary approach by stakeholders, including the members of a coalition against human trafficking and government agencies such as the police.
She said stakeholders including committees and subcommittees are needed to scope the problem. They can “research and assess the problem in the island communities and look for referrals, concerns, red flags, and questions form the members of the community on what may human trafficking looks like,” Limtiaco said. “We need to understand that when people report or call, we need to have resources to respond.”
She cited some cases of human trafficking where a victim sometimes may not want to report the case to the authorities, but instead would likely report the incident to a non-government organization or a support group.
“The sharing of information is needed for us to have a more accurate picture of the scope of the problem,” she said.
Limtiaco earlier addressed the problem of human trafficking by asking communities around Micronesia to help curb this rising menace.
Unlike illegal drugs and the illegal arms trade, human trafficking has a reusable commodity that craiminal individuals or organizations can reuse time and again, she said.
Some of the places of business that human trafficking can be prevalent include massage parlors or therapeutic massage establishments, brothels, strip clubs, karaoke clubs, gentlemen clubs, or escort services.
In an effort to combat human trafficking Limtiaco last year said her office has created Strategies for Justice.
“This is an initiative that began in our district in Guam and the Northern Marianas and the rationale behind this is community stakeholders coming together, talking about our very diverse communities, talking about our limited resources, our unique and remote location, and financial constraints. Because of this we also recognize the need to look beyond our borders and understand other island-nations who are our neighbors who also have similar challenges and that we need to work together to combat human trafficking.”
Limtiaco said there have been steps and efforts taken to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate with other Pacific island nations in the form of training, sharing investigative resources, and creating victim services to help prevent human trafficking in the region. (Joel Pinaroc)