NJ holds Human Trafficking Prevention Month event amid report state failed to file reports

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The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General held an event for Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month amid a report that the state failed to issue reports about the practice for the past five years.

The Associated Press found that New Jersey failed to fully carry out a state law aimed at preventing human trafficking by skipping a requirement to issue annual reports on prevention efforts.

The 2013 Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act stiffened penalties for human-trafficking convicts, set up a fund for victims and also established a commission required to issue annual reports to the governor and lawmakers. There was a public report in 2014 posted online but none since then, the AP found in response to a request for records.

On Friday, the attorney general held an event at in the George Washington Room at the Trenton War Memorial to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Keynote speaker Barbara Amaya says that she was raised in the affluent town of Fairfax, Virginia, but still became a victim of human trafficking. She is now a survivor and award-winning author.

"There's a lot of people in the United States that don't even think this happened here. When I start talking they think, where were you? What? You're from Fairfax, one of the highest cost of living areas and, that happened to you?” Amaya says.

Mercer County Prosecutor's Office Detective Alicia Bergondo received the 2020 Sergeant Noelle Holl Award for outstanding efforts to end human trafficking in New Jersey.

As for the AP report, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Friday in a statement that his office was aware the commission “has not been operating at full capacity" and that he would be “reinvigorating” it.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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