State Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, recently met international diplomats to discuss human trafficking legislation, specifically House Bill 1105 from Louisiana's 2014 legislative session. The five countries represented were Greece, Brazil, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Denmark.
The diplomats were invited to the United States as part of the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program, a news release said.
The project’s objectives include a review of U.S. government strategies to combat international human trafficking by examining the formulation, administration and enforcement of U.S. policy on all levels, as well as examining the roles governing bodies play in detecting, preventing and prosecuting these crimes.
The program will explore initiatives to recognize, protect, and assist victims of abuse and trafficking with recovery and reintegration programs, and investigate international law enforcement cooperation in trafficking cases.
Their discussion with Hodges focused on legislation to combat human trafficking. Hodges said, “While human trafficking has been an issue plaguing our country and our world for decades, we have made important strides, especially over the last six years. The existence of this international program proves we need to work together, all across the globe to deal with this crisis."
She added, "Our efforts will not stop here. We will continue to fight for change to end human trafficking.”
The five participants of the program are Murshid Zahan, of Bangladesh, senior assistant superintendent of police, special branch, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Immigration; Adriano Pelusio Melgaco Jr., of Brazil, director of education and graduate studies, Civil Police Academy of the State of Rio Grande do Sul; Michael Skafsgaard Klausen, of Denmark, detective superintendent of the Organized Crime Unit of the Copenhagen Police; Marina Ntonopoulou, of Greece, director of Abolish Slavery in the 21st Century; and Evelyn Yeama Mannah, of Sierra Leone, parliamentary counsel of the Law Officers’ Department of the Ministry of Justice.