Raymond Bechard is an Author, Producer and Human Rights Advocate. For over 25 years he has worked to provide justice, tolerance and equality to people around the world.View All Posts
Several laws fighting human trafficking went into effect on October 1st. Here’s what lawmakers missed.
Some powerful anti-human trafficking laws were passed this year. But so much more can be done. You can view my entire video testimony before the Connecticut State Legislature’s Judiciary Committee at this link. The video is only 11 minutes long, but filled with important information for you, your family, and your community.
You can also read my entire written testimony at this link.
As you’ll see, I urged additional legislation that takes into account the reality of how this crime against young people takes place online. The abuse suffered through the commercial sexual exploitation of minors occurs in both the real and virtual worlds. In the future, legislators must include commercial sexual acts or performances by a minor whether or not the person paying for the sex act is in physical contact or the same physical location with the child.
Paying a child for a sex act is wrong no matter where it takes place.
When will our lawmakers make this illegal?
One law that passed, that shouldn’t have, requires “that annual reports on anti-human trafficking efforts from each state’s attorney and municipal chief of police be sent to the Trafficking in Persons Council (TIP).”
While submitting these annual reports to the Trafficking in Persons Council in and of itself can be justified, there can be no justification for excluding the reports from being submitted to the Judiciary and Children’s Committees of the Legislature.
This law now eliminates these important reports from being submitted directly to any committee within the state legislature or state regulatory agency. It demands these reports be submitted exclusively to the Trafficking in Persons Council, thereby cutting out any direct input or oversight by the Legislature or the public. In short, state lawmakers are now shut out from receiving information about human rights violations happening in the towns they represent.
Why is this such a mistake? According to their own 2016 report submitted to the Connecticut Legislature in January of 2017, “The TIP Council still doesn’t fully understand the impact and scope of human trafficking in Connecticut and many undetected victims continue to go unserved.”
Further, in that same report the Trafficking in Persons Council makes three Policy Concept Recommendations to the Connecticut State Legislature for the 2017 session. None of these recommendations include any mention of the reporting change. In fact, there is no mention anywhere in their report that the annual findings of Police Chiefs and States Attorneys should me made exclusively to the Trafficking in Persons Council instead of to the Legislature.
This new law effectively blocks important, potentially life-saving information from reaching lawmakers, town representatives, and citizens who are directly affected by their findings.
Why didn’t the new law simply add that the reports shall also be submitted to the Trafficking in Persons Council? No one knows and no one is talking about it. Now, the Trafficking in Persons Council has full and exclusive access to this data and complete discretion to interpret findings within their own agenda. This was their intention all along; the consolidation of information and power.
Going forward, these reports should be filed with the Legislature’s Committee on Public Safety and Security. This will ensure that lawmakers in Connecticut have full and unfettered access to serious crime data coming directly from their own towns.
This change costs nothing. However, it does allow for important information to be disseminated to a wider, more influential, group of stakeholders who are deeply interested in eradicating human trafficking while best protecting its victims.
We cannot allow bureaucrats with their own, hidden agendas to hijak information that must be made public.