AG Gansler: Human Trafficking Hotline Can Save Lives, Fight Exploitation
Marylanders urged to help through awareness campaign
Clear Channel Outdoor donates digital billboards for the Polaris Project's
National Human Trafficking Hotline
Baltimore, MD ( Feb. 21, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler stood with representatives of Clear Channel Outdoor and Polaris Project, an international anti-human trafficking organization, at the base of a digital billboard visible from Baltimore's Jones Falls Expressway to announce a promotional campaign to help Marylanders combat human trafficking. The statewide billboard campaign publicizes the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), a 24-hour resource for the public to anonymously report tips of suspected human trafficking and obtain information, or for survivors to request immediate help.
"This hotline is a vital resource that can save lives and help us shut down those who traffic in human labor and sexual exploitation," said Attorney General Gansler. "As we continue to help Maryland law enforcement and prosecutors get the tools they need to investigate and prosecute human traffickers, we encourage members of the public to anonymously share what they know or help someone they believe is being exploited by calling the hotline."
Human trafficking is a fast growing criminal industry, with traffickers making billions in profits by using force, fraud or coercion to rob victims of their freedom, including U.S. citizens. The hotline has fielded over 68,000 calls nationwide, including more than 2,700 calls from Maryland and the District of Columbia. Polaris Project estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of human trafficking victims throughout the U.S. The donated billboard space featured in the news conference today is one of 19 around Baltimore promoting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline.
"Polaris Project and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center are grateful to Attorney General Gansler and Clear Channel Outdoor for their commitment to fighting human trafficking in our communities," said Karen Galatz, Deputy Director of Polaris Project. "Now, millions of Maryland residents will see that help is a phone call away if they need assistance or suspect human trafficking. Through the national human trafficking hotline, victims can become survivors."
"Clear Channel Outdoor is thrilled to participate in this public/private partnership attempting to eradicate the horrible exploitation that is human trafficking," said Steve Ginsburg, President and General Manager of Clear Channel Outdoor, Washington DC/Baltimore/Salisbury Division.
Polaris Project is a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Named after the North Star "Polaris" that guided people escaping slavery along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and across the globe. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, conducting trainings and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.
Attorney General Gansler co-chairs the statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, which has set up roving operations to identify victims and traffickers, deputized local law enforcement to assist in federal human trafficking investigations, provided training for law enforcement officers and reached out to persons who might be victimized by traffickers.
In 2010 and 2011, Attorney General Gansler sought to ensure that Backpage.com was removing from its site advertising for sex trafficking that, in some cases, targeted minors. More than 50 cases, in 22 states over three years, involving the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors allegedly occurred through Backpage.com. In 2008, Attorney General Gansler joined 41 other state attorneys general in forcing Craigslist to crack down on illegal ads that promoted human trafficking. That effort led to Craigslist shutting down its "erotic services" section in May 2009.
In a multi-year effort, Attorney General Gansler has joined with members of the Maryland General Assembly in support of legislation to help law enforcement and prosecutors go after criminals who traffic in human labor and sexual exploitation.
Recent anti-human trafficking laws that have passed and were signed into law with the support of Attorney General Gansler include:
HB 345 (2011) - Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance - Investigation of Human Trafficking
HB 1322 (2010) - National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Information
SB 261 (2010) - Criminal Law - Human Trafficking - Prohibitions
Pending legislation before the Maryland General Assembly in 2013 that has the support of Attorney General Gansler include:
HB 713 - Seizure and Forfeiture - Property used in Human Trafficking
HB 933 - Human Trafficking of Minor - Defense of Ignorance of Victim's Age
HB1056 - Police Training - Human Trafficking - Sensitivity and Awareness
HB1188 - Human Trafficking - Victims Under Age 21
Photos from this event are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marylandoag/sets/72157632823996838/