TOPEKA – (January
11, 2021) – During its session that convenes today, the legislature should
continue bipartisan progress to combat human trafficking in Kansas, Attorney
General Derek Schmidt said today.
Today is National
Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and Schmidt said he will request
reintroduction of two bills that were introduced last year but failed to pass
when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended the 2020 legislative session. The
first would require posting of the National Human Trafficking Hotline in
certain business and public places. Posting of the hotline number, which is
1-888-3737-888, helps connect victims to services and encourages the public to
report potential trafficking so an appropriate response can occur. The second
bill would change the terminology used to describe crimes associated with
trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“Since our state’s
first anti-human trafficking law was enacted in 2005, Kansas has worked with
strong bipartisan support to make great strides in combating this crime against
human dignity,” Schmidt said. “These two proposals will advance the state’s
efforts to help identify, support and obtain justice for victims.”
Both bills are a
result of recommendations made by the attorney general’s Human Trafficking
Advisory Board (HTAB), which includes members of law enforcement, prosecutors,
court personnel, advocates, state agency representatives and survivors of human
trafficking who have expertise in this field. Since 2013, the HTAB has been
tasked with coordinating public awareness and education initiatives, victim
identification and support, and development of a statewide collaborative effort
across disciplines and jurisdictions to combat human trafficking in Kansas.
trafficking in Kansas has been a priority for Schmidt. Since he took office in
2011, the state has improved its legal framework and Kansas anti-trafficking
laws now are in the top tier of states, as reflected in a national scorecard
called the “Protected Innocence Challenge.” The keeper of that scorecard this
year is issuing a new and separate challenge for states to begin focusing on
more-difficult issues such as the criminal justice system’s handling of
sex-trafficking victims who themselves commit crimes that victimize others. The
Legislature began discussions of that subject last session, and Schmidt said he
anticipates those discussions to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Each year, January
11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. According to the U.S.
Department of Justice, human trafficking is one of the largest and
fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It involves recruiting,
harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex
trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas and both adults and children
additional information about human trafficking or to learn more about potential
signs of human trafficking, go to http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking
or contact the attorney general’s victim services toll-free hotline at (800)
828-9745 Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.