Monday, May 7, 2007

N. Carolina: Legistlation Targets Human Trafficking

North Carolina State Representative Ellie Kinnaird
is sponsoring bills to defeat sex trafficking in her state

NORTH CAROLINA - A woman was locked in a house for two years as a servant. Another woman was held in a hotel and made to prostitute herself.

Both cases unfolded in North Carolina, say legal-aid lawyers and advocates for the poor.

Human trafficking, a practice that some call modern slavery, is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. The State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people a year are trafficked over international borders.

North Carolina is home to some of the victims, as well as the perpetrators.

For years, the crime has been unknown and rarely prosecuted. Victims, most of whom are foreign, are often deported when they are found, and their traffickers are never investigated, according to advocates for the workers. Many in North Carolina, including state Rep. Ellie Kinnaird, are working to bring human trafficking into the spotlight.

"These are not illegal immigrants," said Kinnaird, an Orange County Democrat. "These are kidnap victims. They are refugees. We've got to train police to probe, to investigate further."

Last year, Kinnaird sponsored legislation that made human trafficking a crime for the first time in North Carolina. Until then, it could only be prosecuted by federal officials. Now, she is sponsoring a bill that would pay for training for law enforcement and services for victims, such as shelter and legal representation...


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