State AG’s new Special Division joins fight against human trafficking
A new division of the Hawaiʻi Department of the Attorney General has joined the battle to stamp out human trafficking.
The Special Investigation and Prosecution Division was created after funds were appropriated in 2022 by the Hawaiʻi Legislature.
“[The Special Investigation and Prosecution Division] was created to help fight human trafficking through aggressive criminal prosecution to hold offenders accountable,” said the division’s supervising Deputy Attorney General David Van Acker in a press release. “Our division also aims to raise public awareness about the threats that human trafficking presents to the state by providing training opportunities and partnering with community stakeholders. We are eager to collaborate with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to achieve these goals.”
Human trafficking is generally defined as the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or sex act or causing someone younger than 18 years old to engage in a commercial sex act, regardless of the use of force, fraud or coercion. Under state law, first-degree sex trafficking and first-degree labor trafficking are Class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Members of the public who suspect human trafficking should report what they see.
In case of emergency, call 911. People on the Big Island and other neighbor islands can call 1-888-398-1188 to report child trafficking. To report human trafficking to federal law enforcement, call 1-866-347-2423. People can also get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888.
Wednesday is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. It is commemorated during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which has been observed each year in January since 2010. The month is dedicated to raise awareness about the different forms of human trafficking and educating people about the crime and how to spot it.
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