NJ and families co-host statewide program to educate public about dangers of human trafficking

TRENTON — The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force within the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families today co-hosted a statewide program for more than 200 people to mark “Human Trafficking Awareness Day” and to educate the public about the dangers of human trafficking and New Jersey’s anti-human trafficking efforts ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl.

With a large influx of people expected next week for the 2014 Super Bowl, New Jersey will be at an increased risk of human trafficking. Today’s awareness program is one in a series of events being hosted by the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force to highlight what New Jersey is doing to combat human trafficking and to highlight services available to victims and survivors.

Victims of human trafficking, men, women and children, can be exploited for the purpose of commercial sexual activity, including prostitution and pornography, as well as many types of forced labor, including domestic servitude and migrant agricultural work. Traffickers lure and control their victims through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, and employ techniques such as physical and psychological abuse, false employment offers, document holding, and isolation.

“Human trafficking is a deplorable crime that strips its victims of their most basic right – their freedom,” Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said. “We, as law enforcement and as human beings, have an obligation to make sure that we do everything in our power to stop this atrocity. Through a multi-faceted community outreach campaign, we continue to actively educate the public about the dangers of human trafficking, what it is, how to spot it and how to report it. In addition, we have committed significant resources to investigating and prosecuting human trafficking.”

Hoffman was joined at today’s program by other state, federal and local law enforcement officials including Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig.

“Combatting human trafficking effectively takes the increased awareness of every citizen across the State and the strength and will of our collective efforts, said Blake. “Today’s awareness event is only one of many efforts to win the battle against human trafficking and protect and support the victims and their families.”

“It is unconscionable that unscrupulous criminals continue to prey on other human beings and exploit them in horrifying ways, including forced labor and prostitution, just to make a dollar,” Fishman said. “These victims are forced to endure the violation of their most basic human and civil rights. This type of behavior is intolerable in a civilized society.”

Former United States Senator and Former Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa provided the keynote address at today’s program.

“It remains critical that we continue our vigorous fight against human trafficking so that we can give a voice to the victims who have their innocence stolen, and also remind the predators that engage in this reprehensible conduct that they will be severely punished,” Chiesa said.

The Human Trafficking Task Force includes representatives from the Division of Criminal Justice, several county prosecutors’ offices, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and a host of non-governmental agencies and non-profit groups. The Human Trafficking Task Force strives to educate law enforcement and the community about human trafficking: how to identify it, how to investigate it and how to prosecute it.

To date, the Human Trafficking Task Force has trained thousands of law enforcement members and people from other walks of life, including hospitality management and staff, taxi cab drivers, CEOs, university presidents, health care industry executives and people working in a broad array of other vocations. As part of its outreach efforts, the Human Trafficking Task Force will continue to hold “say something assemblies,” which educate students and the community at large about the dangers of human trafficking, how to spot it and how to report it. More information about those assemblies can be found at www.njhumantrafficking.gov.

In October, the Human Trafficking Task Force launched a new, easy to remember hotline to report human trafficking in New Jersey. The hotline – 855-END-NJ-HT or 855-363-6548 – serves as a constant reminder of New Jersey’s commitment to end human trafficking in the state. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by detectives in the Human Trafficking Unit within the Division of Criminal Justice. The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force urges anyone who suspects human trafficking to call the hotline.