Federal bill could greatly help Guam's human trafficking problem - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Federal bill could greatly help Guam's human trafficking problem

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Human trafficking cases have risen by 35 percent in the US. In order to address what appears to be a growing issue nationwide, a bill passed by the House of Representatives aims to help employees catch these criminals by identifying victims in the workplace.

8,000 cases of human trafficking - that's the latest statistic for cases reported in the United States over the past year. Coalition of Pacific Human Trafficking Task Forces co-chair attorney Alicia Limtiaco says a bill passed by the House of Representatives this week could aid efforts to address the problem here at home. "Clearly in Guam we know it exists, clearly in the Northern Mariana Islands we know it exists," she qualified.

The bill - known as the Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act - would ensure the Department of Labor can effectively train employees to better spot, respond to and report human trafficking to authorities. Limtiaco added, "We can never go wrong with more training."

DOL director Sam Mabini said while training has been conducted in the past, it is not currently being offered by DOL, although trained staff do conduct inspections at business establishments. As for how prevalent the issue is in Guam - Limtiaco said the coalition has discussed developing a tool to better track the number of potential victims in Guam, noting, "We know different sectors of our community may have differing numbers, and that's because not everyone may want to report to law enforcement."

And as for massage parlors and bars that some might view as red flags. She said, "We know that some of these establishments including massage parlors and therapeutic massage facilities are included as some of the types of establishments in which victims have been found. We need to work with our health professionals and our law enforcement to ensure that we are confronting and addressing all those that are operating illegally and in a criminal manner. It's important that we do that and there are ways that we can do that within our legal or legislative system."

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