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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kansas A.G. announces expanded task force to fight human trafficking

The Wichita Eagle

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Wednesday he hopes an expanded task force on human trafficking can work with legislators and the governor to strengthen state laws.

The state has among the weaker laws in the nation dealing with human trafficking, according to a recent analysis by Shared Hope International, a Washington state-based nonprofit group. Kansas sits on one of the major routes favored by pimps and others who would exploit children in the sex trade and forced labor.

Schmidt said he will ask the advisory board to review that and other reports and to identify ways the state can improve its efforts. Schmidt announced the expanded task force on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“The buying and selling of human beings, whether for sex or for labor, is a reprehensible form of modern-day slavery that is unacceptable in the 21st century,” Schmidt said in a statement. “On this day aimed at raising global awareness of the problem, it is my pleasure to broaden our ongoing Kansas commitment to being part of the solution.”

Schmidt established the Human Trafficking Advisory Board in 2010 to include variety of professionals from police and prosecutors to social workers and victims. Schmidt said his new appointments provide more points of view, including members of the Legislature. Its job is to recommend improvements to Kansas laws and policies, Schmidt said.

New members include Kathy Gill-Hopple, director of forensic nursing for Via Christi Hospitals; Mark Masterson, director of the Sedgwick County Department of Corrections; and Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita.

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