To improve state efforts to combat human trafficking in all its forms, the full Assembly voted unanimously 74-0-0 advancing legislation (A-883) on Thursday that would broaden the scope of the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tom Giblin, Britnee Timberlake and Annette Quijano.
Understanding the full scope of human trafficking is difficult because so many cases go undetected and are therefore underreported. Estimates, however, suggest that thousands are of trafficked into and out of the United States every year.
“The true prevalence of human trafficking cannot be confirmed by incomplete data,” said Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic). “As a result, we have to remain vigilant through public policy and committed to raising the level of public awareness.”
The bill would expand the Commission of Human Trafficking’s public awareness function by requiring it to develop mechanisms to promote victim remedies and services. It also requires the creation of public signage promoting the national, 24-hour toll-free trafficking hotline.
“Equipping people with the information to safely connect and refer a potential trafficking victim to the appropriate resources is crucial,” said Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic). “We also have to do better to ensure there is no room for willful ignorance or complicity.”
The public-awareness sign created by this bill would need to be placed conspicuously within businesses such as bars, hotels and job recruitment centers as well as at transportation hubs and hospital emergency rooms among many others.
“The trafficking hotline is one of the safest and most effective tools for victims to access emergency assistance,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Putting signage clearly displaying the hotline number all throughout our public spaces is therefore an incredibly important strategy to get those in crisis the help they need.”
A business or establishment required to visibly display the sign and who fails to comply would be liable for a civil penalty of $300 for a first offense and $1000 for every subsequent offense.
The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.