To secure the passage of New Hampshire House Bill 189, which exempts child victims from facing criminal penalties for non-violent offenses committed as a result of human trafficking, and to build public support and bring attention to the bill to encourage other states to enact similar legislation.
We launched our campaign at the beginning of May 2019, aiming to amplify support for the bill before the end of New Hampshire’s legislative session on June 30, 2019.
The issue of criminalization of human trafficking victims for crimes they were forced to commit by traffickers is one that is gaining attention across the United States. New Hampshire was already on the right track at the launch of our campaign as one of just 28 states that had legislation stating that children cannot be charged for prostitution.
We were excited that New Hampshire House Bill 189 aimed to extend protections for survivors of child sex trafficking to prevent them from being charged for “any other misdemeanor or non-violent class B felony, where the conduct was committed as a direct result of being trafficked.” These criminal records would follow children the rest of their lives, presenting barriers to obtaining safe and stable housing and employment.
Freedom United partnered with Shared Hope International and Care2 on this campaign, and since the
launch 79,725 people signed the petition— illustrating clear public support for ending the criminalization of child trafficking victims.
At the end of May the bill passed out of both chambers of the state legislature. In anticipation of the bill heading to Governor Chris Sununu, we delivered our petition signatures to the Governor’s office on June 7, explaining the importance of his support on this critical piece of legislation.
On July 1, Governor Sununu signed House Bill 189 into law, making New Hampshire a leader in supporting survivors of human trafficking.