Recognizing the alarming and growing criminal industry of human trafficking in the United States, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined his fellow attorneys general in a letter to congressional committee leaders overseeing the federal funding for programs that fight human trafficking and slavery. The letter urged Congress to appropriate funding for programs authorized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).
Established in 2000, the TVPRA greatly increased America's efforts to protect human trafficking victims, assist survivors, improve prevention methods and successfully prosecute human traffickers. The original legislation established human trafficking as a federal crime.
"The TVPRA has made significant progress in protecting domestic minor victims of human trafficking, encouraging further education and awareness about human trafficking, providing prosecutors with more effective tools for prosecuting offenders, and funding task forces across the country that battle trafficking each day," Attorney General Kilmartin wrote in the letter to Congress. "Reauthorization of the Act and appropriating funds to support these critical measures is a key element to fighting the horrors of human trafficking."
Since coming into office in 2011, Attorney General Kilmartin has actively fought to end human trafficking in Rhode Island. Under his leadership, the Office successfully prosecuted the first human trafficking case since passage of the law in 2007 and amended in 2009. In addition, Kilmartin has been a vocal advocate in urging Congress to act on legislation that would give states greater authority to prosecute those who engage in human trafficking through the Internet on sites like Backpage.com. Attorney General Kilmartin also participated in the Rhode Island Coalition to End Human Trafficking 2011 campaign, "Time to End the Demand," lending his voice and name to the statewide advertising campaign to end human trafficking.
Last week, Attorney General Kilmartin participated in a two-day conference sponsored by the Rhode Island Family Court on human trafficking , which discussed ways to identify human trafficking, resources for victims and best practices in investigating and prosecuting those who enslave individuals for the commercial sex industry.
Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating about $32 billion each year.
Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or other areas of the sex industry. Trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work. According to a study of U.S. Department of Justice Human Trafficking Task Force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens. The average age that U.S. citizens are first used for commercial sex is 12–14 years old.
"The statistics are staggering. We have to recognize the immense scope of the problem human trafficking and put the necessary resources towards ending this horrific crime," added Kilmartin.