Published: Jul 28, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Aug 02, 2012 10:53 AM
Help stop human trafficking
I was so pleased to see your recent series of articles on human trafficking, a criminal activity and human rights violation that generates $32 billion in profit annually, according to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime. As you note, North Carolina is particularly attractive to human traffickers due to our geographic location on major highways and some of our large industries, which depend on low-wage, vulnerable labor. I particularly appreciated your recognition of the hard work of Sen. Ellie Kinnaird and both of our state coalitions, the North Carolina Coalition against Human Trafficking and NC Stop Human Trafficking. They work diligently to prosecute traffickers, serve victim-survivors, train and educate our communities and, ultimately, to eradicate human trafficking.The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons issues an annual report evaluating the progress countries are making in the fight against human trafficking. This Trafficking in Persons report uses a 3P rubric: Prevention, Protection and Prosecution. Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador CdeBaca also acknowledge the importance of the fourth P: Partnership.One very important partnership is the one between citizens and their federal and state legislators. Our voices must be present as our lawmakers deliberate over what laws to pass and what programs to fund. The federal definition of human trafficking is found in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed in 2000. That legislation has been reauthorized several times but its most recent 2008 reauthorization has expired. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011 has not yet been approved by Congress. This lack of guiding federal legislation makes anti-trafficking efforts extraordinary difficult.On the state side, we can be proud that North Carolina was one of the first states to mandate law enforcement training through the N.C. Justice Academy’s Basic Law Enforcement Training curriculum. In turn, other states have passed innovative legislation that we might consider replicating. For example, Maryland’s HB 674 (2011) requires that specified school personnel receive awareness and training materials about human trafficking. School employees are in an excellent position to be aware of vulnerable students and to notice the warning signs of human trafficking. California’s Transparency in Supply Chain Act (2010) requires certain large corporations to disclose their efforts to identify and combat forced labor in their supply chains (similar federal legislation has been introduced in Congress). This legislation provides consumers with information about the businesses we choose to patronize and support. HB1200, passed this year in Virginia, requires adult entertainment establishments to post details about the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, so that help is visible in locations where workers are likely to need it. Anything we can do is useful and necessary. Volunteer; help raise money; educate yourself and help educate others. Seek out fair trade products and support those suppliers. And, think about the laws you want enacted as we strive to hold accountable human traffickers, to support victim-survivors in their healing and recovery processes, and to end human trafficking in the world.
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