Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) today told the County Prosecutor’s Association of New Jersey that federal human trafficking laws and an international Megan’s Law are helping but still need more assistance from local law enforcement.
“Do we need more laws? Maybe. But more than anything else, we need to further prioritize combating human trafficking, especially through prosecution,” Smith told the group during a meeting in Atlantic City today. “More must be done to protect the weakest and most vulnerable from this cruelty.”
Smith said that thousands of human traffickers are now in prison as a result of the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act he sponsored more than 20 years ago, when some lawmakers though the term applied to drugs and weapons, not people.
A study cited by Smith said that boys are making up a growing percentage of child victims – about 36% of those forced into the U.S. sex industry.
“We know that traffickers exploit children due to their lack of awareness about the threat and a child’s vulnerability can be compounded by poverty, a previous history of abuse and neglect, institutionalization, running away from home, being an unaccompanied minor, disability, belonging to a minority group, lacking citizenship or birth registration, being an asylum seeker, refugee or internally displaced persons,” Smith said.
Smith, the lone Republican in the New Jersey congressional delegation, has been the prime sponsor of five laws to combat domestic and international sex trafficking.
The International Megan’s Law approved in 2016 requires the U.S. Department of State to stamp “sex offender” on the passports of Americans traveling abroad.
Thankfully, the law is working. In just over two years, the U.S. government has notified foreign governments of the planned travel of 10,541 covered sex offenders to their countries. As of July—3,681 individuals who were convicted of sex crimes against children were denied entry by these nations.
As a Special Representative for Combatting Human Trafficking in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe – the Helsinki Commission – Smith has been pushing for reciprocity so foreign governments to warn the U.S. when convicted pedophiles intent to travel here.
“Today as never before, traffickers are using internet communication technologies to lure children into trafficking,” Smith said.2019-24-11 Trafficking Atlantic City County Prosecutors Conference (2)