JUNEAU – Alaska State Capitol, January 22-26, 2024 

In a landmark initiative to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking, the Alaska House Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Chairwoman Representative Sarah Vance (R – Homer), is set to host “Justice in Human Trafficking Week” from January 22 to 26, 2024, at the Alaska State Capitol.

Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, affects an estimated 27.6 million people globally, with reported cases in every U.S. state and territory. Representative Sarah Vance emphasizes that human trafficking is not just a crime but a public health issue that exploits the most vulnerable in society, weakening the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities across generations, occurring both in rural and urban Alaska.

Advocates and survivors are invited to the Alaska State Capitol to share their lived experiences with legislators. Representative Vance and the House Judiciary Committee recognize the urgent need for continued legislative efforts to combat human trafficking, a crime that affects individuals across diverse demographics, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, age, or socioeconomic status, and want to hear from advocates and survivors.

Throughout Justice in Human Trafficking Week, the House Judiciary Committee will gather esteemed leaders from state agencies and organizations committed to the fight against human trafficking in Alaska and worldwide. The event will showcase distinguished participants, including Katie Tepas from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, a representative from Priceless Alaska, and representatives from both the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center and the Alaska Native Justice Center. Furthermore, Mr. Josh Louwerse, serving as a representative for Covenant House Alaska and the Alaska Children’s Justice Act Task Force, will deliver a presentation, joined by the Alaska Institute for Justice and numerous other experts who will enlighten attendees on this crucial issue.

Representative Vance emphasized, “While human trafficking is a threat to anyone, certain populations, including those affected by abuse, violence, poverty, unstable living situations, social disconnection, or discrimination, are disproportionately at risk.” She further highlighted that prevention involves building understanding and resilience at the individual, community, and societal levels, addressing the underlying conditions that contribute to exploitation.

The Alaska Legislature’s ongoing focus on this critical issue aims to develop effective strategies to respond to the complex problem of human trafficking. By acknowledging the pervasive threat and impact of human trafficking on communities, the Legislature reaffirms its dedication to safeguarding the well-being and rights of all Alaskans.