JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Christian Examiner) -- Human trafficking will be the focus of a new state task force set to launch in Missouri later this year.
State legislators unanimously passed a resolution establishing the human trafficking task force before the legislative assembly ended last week. The task force will exist to generate citizen awareness of the issues and provide a central location for lawmakers to find the necessary information for create effective trafficking legislation.
According to the resolution, "the mission of the task force shall be to raise awareness of the human trafficking problem in Missouri and provide organizations and agencies that enforce human trafficking laws and assist victims with a central place to share information."
State Representative Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) sponsored the measure. He told an online news source the task force team had not yet been determined, but positions were expected to be filled by a diverse set of individuals in the weeks ahead.
"It would be a variety of sitting Representatives, Senators, some members of non-governmental organizations, and a variety of other affiliated groups that would have input on the best way to combat the trafficking issue in Missouri," Haahr said. "The point of the task force is to meet during the 2015 year and then to come back and have some proposals about what it is that the legislature can do to in order to coordinate an take on the trafficking issues in the state of Missouri."
Haahr reportedly intends to push for stricter trafficking laws in the future as well. One measure he proposed that was approved by the House but did not make it to a Senate vote this year was a ban on advertisements that could lead to human trafficking.
A similiar bill has been proposed by U.S. Represenatative Ann Wagner at the federal level, Haahr told Missourinet.
The state of Missouri is not the first to create a method to better track the trafficking problems in their area. Earlier this year New York state launched a state-wide initiative to educate the public about the signs of trafficking.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, in this year alone, 1,345 human trafficking cases have been reported through their hotline.
The human trafficking industry has an estimated 21 million victims worldwide, with 5.5 million of those children, and makes about $150 billion annually in profits, according to proponents of human trafficking legislation, the news report said.