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Navajo Leaders Sign Human Trafficking Law

Navajo Leaders Sign Human Trafficking Law
August 09
14:48 2017


CAPTION: President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed the Navajo law against Human Trafficking with Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Police Chief Phillip Francisco and Director of Public Safety Jesse Delmar.

WINDOW ROCK – On Aug. 7 President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed Resolution No. CJY-48-17 that enacts Navajo law against Human Trafficking to promote justice and public safety on the Navajo Nation.

The enactment of this law allows the tribe to prosecute those within our borders who are accused of human trafficking. Too often public safety on the Navajo Nation is undermined by the limitations imposed on tribal jurisdiction to prosecute criminals. Too often criminal cases fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government and are lost in bureaucracy.

“This will strengthen our laws in this area,” said President Begaye. “We want to ensure that our people are protected, that our law enforcement is trained to defend us against human trafficking, and that our prosecutors have the tools to promote justice.”

Vice President Nez stressed the importance of educating our children.

“Human trafficking is happening here on the Navajo Nation,” he said. “We must teach our children how to recognize danger and not to accept rides from people they do not know. We are signing this law as a way to empower and demonstrate that the Navajo Nation will not stand for any abuse to our children or our people.”

Essentially, human trafficking is human slavery and it generally takes the form of labor trafficking or sex trafficking. It is defined by the law as “the illegal recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of a person, especially from another country, with the intent to hold the person captive or exploit the person for labor, services, or body parts. Human trafficking offenses include forced prostitution, forced marriages, sweat-shop labor, slavery, and harvesting human organs from unwilling donors.”

According to Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, chairwoman of the Sexual Assault Prevention Sub-Committee, the perpetrators of the crime use practiced techniques such as promises of money, fame, and security to lure vulnerable victims into a world where they sell their bodies.

“There’s a model and there’s a method to how they approach this,” she said. “Now that this is illegal on the Navajo Nation it opens opportunity to bring education and training to our officers, our dispatchers and our first responders.  It helps the Navajo Nation protect our Navajo people.”

Currently, cases may be classified incorrectly as sexual abuse or prostitution because the paperwork does not include human trafficking as an option. The law will change this and provide for training and education to provide strategies for our police to identify the perpetrators and victims of the crime, and to ensure that human trafficking cases are classified correctly.

President Begaye and Vice President Nez thank the Navajo Nation Council for passage of the legislation and commend Delegates Amber Crotty, Nathaniel Brown and Jonathan Hale who sponsored the bill and for their advocacy in strengthening our laws to address human trafficking.

“The law against human trafficking is something that we’ve been pushing for because a majority of those that are being abused and used this way by perpetrators are children,” President Begaye said. “Perpetrators prey on children that come from dysfunctional homes with family members that abuse alcohol or drugs. This will protect our children no matter what circumstance they come from.”

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