U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Today, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. joined Attorney General Ariel Smith to announce new legislation and initiatives to prevent human trafficking, and to protect women and girls from abuse. The bill, called the Victims of Human Trafficking Prevention Act, is part of a years-long comprehensive initiative to prevent human trafficking in the U.S. Virgin Islands and around the world.
“Preventing human trafficking will continue to be a priority for me and my Administration,” said Governor Albert Bryan Jr. “The new legislation we are announcing today would make it easier for local law enforcement to pursue criminals who engage in human trafficking. I am also pleased to announce the creation of the Virgin Islands Council on Human Trafficking to coordinate these efforts and enhance local victims’ services.”
“The Virgin Islands Department of Justice has a long track record of supporting human trafficking victims and I’m grateful for Governor Bryan’s support,” said Attorney General Ariel Smith. “I am especially proud that the legislation we unveiled today requires our new anti-human trafficking initiatives to be funded by proceeds from the sale of Little St. James and settlements from Epstein-related cases. The Department of Justice looks forward to launching a public awareness campaign to protect women and girls, and working with the people of the Virgin Islands to prevent human trafficking. As part of that campaign, I want to remind people to call 911 or the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline if they or someone they know is in danger.”
The Victims of Human Trafficking Prevention Act:
- Requires all proceeds from the sale of Little St. James, and certain proceeds from Epstein-related settlements as appropriated by the legislature to fund the new anti-human trafficking initiatives contained in the legislation.
- Implements a new training program for law enforcement and other victims’ advocacy stakeholders to prevent human trafficking.
- Brings reporting requirements for human trafficking in line with the existing requirements for child abuse.
- Clarifies the Attorney General’s authority to enforce human trafficking laws against individuals and entities that violate them.
- Enhances victims’ services.
Additionally, Governor Bryan announced the creation of the Virgin Islands Council on Human Trafficking, which will coordinate a comprehensive plan to provide victims with services and a mechanism for collecting and evaluating data on human trafficking in the USVI. The Governor’s nominees to the Council are:
- Sammuel Sanes, St. Croix Administrator
- Deborah Hodge, Virgin Islands Police Lieutenant
- Ruth Warren, Victim Advocate with the Virgin Islands Department of Justice
- Clema Lewis, Executive Director of the Women’s Coalition
- Anya Stuart, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center
Governor Bryan also announced that the Virgin Islands Department of Justice will be launching a public awareness campaign to help the public and law enforcement better identify the signs of human trafficking.
The full text of the bill can be found here:
If you or you suspect someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911 or the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (24/7) at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to BeFree (233733) or submit an anonymous tip online at: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/