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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Family Dept. backs creation of human trafficking observatory

Sen. Joanne Rodríguez Veve

By The Star Staff

During the continuation of the public hearings on Senate Bill 1237 that proposes the creation of a human trafficking observatory in Puerto Rico, the island Family Department on Thursday expressed its support for the measure.

“One of the reasons I’m sitting here is precisely because of the efforts of organizations and studies that show the reality of human trafficking, and that’s why I introduced this legislation,” said Dignity Project Sen. Joanne Rodríguez Veve, who chairs the Senate Committee on Life and Family Affairs and is the author of the measure. “This is an issue that should not die, and it requires all of us to continue working continuously.”

The acting Family secretary, Ciení Rodríguez Troche, said she favors the bill, but suggested amendments such as establishing a fund between $300,000 to $500,000 annually. The bill, as proposed in the presentation, contemplates a combined fund fed by commonwealth and federal allocations, but does not stipulate the amount.

According to the agency’s presentation, in Puerto Rico, since the inclusion of the definition of human trafficking in the Penal Code in 2012 and in Law No. 246-2011 in 2014, a total of 39 cases of human trafficking, and 28 cases of people at risk of being victims of human trafficking have been reported.

“It became very clear that the official government statistics do not match the magnitude of the real problem, as you rightly mention,” Rodríguez Veve said. “The numbers are very low compared to the stories that have been collected and the information that officials have.”

In response to questions from the senator, the acting Family secretary pointed out that since 2015 the agency has had a protocol on the prevention plan, and in 2021 it was modified to include how they were going to work with cases of human trafficking.

have children running drug points. We talk about sexual exploitation, and we forget the labor exploitation that is part of human trafficking.”

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