Candidates for Honolulu Prosecutor Weigh in on Human Trafficking Issues
The recent hearing for laborer violations by Alec Sou and Mike Sou, the president and vice president of Aloun Farms in Kapolei, has again brought to light the issue of human trafficking. A trial will take place in November for the Sous, who each face one count of conspiracy to commit forced labor and two counts of exploiting 44 imported Thai workers in 2004.
Hawaii doesn’t have a state human trafficking law (we’re one of six remaining states that doesn’t), despite past attempts at the Legislature. Local nonprofits, Girl Fest Hawaii and Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, this week sent out a mass e-mail encouraging voters to educate themselves on where the three candidates running for Honolulu prosecutor stand on this important and still widespread issue.
“Your vote for prosecutor could mean the difference between passing Hawaii’s first state law against human trafficking or not,” wrote Kathryn Xian of Girl Fest Hawaii in the e-mail she sent out. “Know the candidates!”
Where do the three candidates—Keith Kaneshiro, Darwin Ching and Franklin “Don” Pacarro Jr.—stand?
On Kaneshiro’s website, linking from his responses to questions posed by CivilBeat.com, Kaneshiro is the only candidate who supports a tougher human trafficking law. “Victims of human trafficking should be included in the statewide witness program that provides services to these types of victims. In addition, the laws on prostitution need to be simplified to clearly establish the prohibited conduct of human trafficking.”
Ching responded to Civil Beat’s query by simply stating that human trafficking enforcement and prosecution is in the hands of federal agencies.
Pacarro, who has been endorsed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) and long-time former prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who stepped down to run for Honolulu mayor, answered the question similarly, saying that the prosecutor’s office does not handle cases with the human trafficking label.
Although the next prosecutor of Honolulu will have more on his plate than the issue of human trafficking, for the hundreds of women and men trafficked to the Islands each year for prostitution and labor, it is important to establish a state law.
For more information on the candidates running for prosecutor and other city and state seats, visit the League of Women Voters’ website.