A group of Missouri state legislators and citizens working to combat human trafficking will hold a public hearing in Springfield next week. The Human Trafficking Task force, which is chaired by state Rep. Elijah Haahr, will take public testimony on the issue during a hearing next Wednesday at noon at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 202 S. John Q Hammons Parkway.
The task force was created by legislation sponsored by Haahr during the 2015 session. The group’s mission is 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. The task force is charged with reporting a summary of its activities and making any recommendations for legislation to the General Assembly by January 1, 2017.
According to Haahr, testimony at previous hearings in Jefferson City, Kansas City and St. Louis stressed “the severity of this criminal industry and the pressing need for our state to actively work to protect the many innocent lives that will otherwise be destroyed by human traffickers.”
Haahr says the human trafficking industry generates $150 billion in annual profits throughout the world. The criminal industry makes its profits by using an estimated 21 million victims, including 5.5 million children. Haahr says Missouri “must take an active role to help the dozens of nonprofit organizations that are already diligently working to shut down the human trafficking industry.”