The hidden crime of human trafficking

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HUMAN trafficking is usually a hidden crime — a lot of the time we don’t see it, or we try to ignore it, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said on Friday before signing a proclamation designating January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month.

He encourages CNMI community members to continue raising awareness “about this heinous crime against humanity.”

Palacios urged residents to reach out to possible victims and show them there is support and help available.

“These are our islands. We will not allow fear in our community. We will not stand idly by as the basic human rights of others are destroyed,” he added.

For her part, Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law executive director Pamela Brown said: “If you see something, say something.”

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Attorney General Edward Manibusan pose for a photo with other officials and advocates following the signing of  the proclamation designating January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month at the administration building on Jan. 10, 2020.  Photo by Bryan Manabat

“Often these people are brought here through legal means…and they are using the process and procedures available to them through the immigration system,” she added.

“If you [feel] something is not right or if it does not look right, then call [911 or] Crime Stoppers [at 234-7272]. We have people here in the community ready to help.”

Attorney General Edward Manibusan said raising awareness about the issue is important.

“There is no question that in our community, and communities elsewhere, human trafficking [can be found in] bars and spas, massage parlors, in construction industries. Almost everywhere, they could be found, but they are all hidden,” he added.

“With the community’s participation and recognition that human trafficking exists, the community can be better served and be made more safe — people cannot be used for purposes of gratification and for profit,” Manibusan said.

According to the proclamation, 24.9 million people are trafficked globally, including in the United States, where adults and children are exploited through forced labor or commercial sex.

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