Monday, December 29, 2008

Welcoming in the New Year

Thank you for your support, we sincerely appreciate all of those who visit the site and share their thoughts. If you have reached out to us about getting involved and we have yet to respond, please accept our apologies- we are busy figuring out the best way for people to help and how to maximize the interest you have expressed. You will be hearing from us soon.

Happy holidays. Enjoy the time with your loved ones.


- The HTP team

Monday, December 15, 2008

South Asians Left Jobless, Homeless In Iraq

From NPR:

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Morning Edition,
December 15, 2008 · Tens of thousands of poor South Asians have made their way to Iraq since the U.S. invasion, in the hopes of making money to send home to support their families.

Dishwashers, cleaners, drivers and cooks from countries like Bangladesh, India and Nepal form part of an army of contractors that service America's expensive war.

But the system that gets them to Baghdad is riddled with corruption and exploitation, leaving some South Asians living in hovels, jobless and afraid.

Four months ago, Sushil Khadka, 26, left his wife, his two children and his home country of Nepal for Iraq.

"I'd dreamt of a good job, sending home my salary every month to feed my family, to send my children to school. That's why I came here. But that never happened. The opposite happened. It's terrible," he says.

Now Khadka sits in a hut made out of salvaged cardboard, huddled next to a chain-link fence in a dusty corner near Baghdad's international airport. Flies swarm around splattered bits of old food and dirty blankets.

"They made fools of us," he says. "Had we gotten work, it would've been alright but they took our money and ran away."

He sold the family jewelry — all they had in the world — to pay a recruiter in Nepal $5,000. He says the recruiter promised him a job working for American contractor KBR that would earn him $800 a month — a fortune in Nepal. The average income there is $340 a year.

But when he arrived in Iraq he was told there was no work, he says. The agent who was supposed to help him was arrested and the visa in Khadka's passport was ripped out. He was left to his own devices, scrounging around the airport to find shelter and food.

Khadka is not alone. The 40-or-so men who live with him in this makeshift camp tell similar tales.

Upendra Das, 17, sits on the floor chopping vegetables on a dirty plank of painted wood.

"We eat once a day. Sometimes we can't even do that," he says. "I've been here three months so far. To get here I borrowed from the village moneylender. They charge a lot of interest. I can't leave so I'm still waiting, hoping that I will get some work."

Another group of 1,000 South Asians have been held in a nearby warehouse for several months by KBR subcontractor Najlaa Catering Services, a company based in Kuwait. The men say they had their passports taken away and were confined in substandard conditions.

The U.S. military and KBR say they are investigating.

The U.S. State and Defense departments have issued contracting guidelines that are supposed to protect workers in Iraq.

"As in all things, in Iraq there is a policy in place but there is no one really there to enforce it," says investigative journalist T. Christian Miller, who works for Pro Publica and has written a book called Blood Money about the mismanagement of Iraq's reconstruction.

He says that the abuse of South Asian workers in Iraq is common.

"It's definitely a situation of exploitation. You are talking about the most vulnerable people in the world," Miller says. "The U.S. has contracted some of the most dangerous and dirties jobs to some of the poorest people in the world. At this point, five years into the war, there are no excuses for U.S. companies not to be aware of the issue of human trafficking or labor trafficking."

Back at the Baghdad airport, a representative from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) has just showed up offering the homeless South Asians free repatriation. The IOM heard about the men only 10 days ago.

The men crowd around as Thair Issan hands out forms for them to fill out if they want to go home. Issan says the men's plight is desperate.

"Those are victims," he says. "You see the conditions they're living in. It's a very big humanitarian crisis."

Bangladeshi Mohammad Nazrul Islam says he wants to stay here but he's been told he'll be jailed if he does.

"The Iraqi authorities say ... they will jail us if we stay. If we leave right now, it's OK. But we don't want to leave because we've all paid a lot of money to get here," he says.

Where will we find the money to pay off that debt? he asks desperately, adding that he wants to stay but no one will give him a job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trafficking victims to finally get help to rebuild lives

Immigration officials will issue rules letting the women get green cards

Federal immigration officials agreed Monday to long-awaited proposals that for the first time would provide a path to permanent legal residency to hundreds of human trafficking victims in Houston and across the United States.

The move came two weeks after the Houston Chronicle reported that only about half of the victims of human trafficking identified by federal investigators in the U.S. are getting promised visas to help rebuild their lives — despite their cooperation in prosecuting traffickers.

The federal government has spent seven years and tens of millions of dollars to rescue and assist foreign women exploited as slaves in America under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, yet only 1,094 victims have managed to qualify for T visas.

Bureaucratic delays

None have received green cards because of previously unexplained bureaucratic delays in issuing the required regulations.

The proposed regulation would help both victims of human trafficking as well as immigrant victims of other crimes, such as domestic violence, who assist government prosecutions.

"It is wonderful news and long overdue," said Diana Velardo, an immigration lawyer at the University of Houston who said the law will help at least 25 of her own clients here. "This helps our victims move out of uncertainty and finally move on."

'Many difficult ... issues'

Immigration officials said the delay of nearly seven years in issuing the regulation stemmed from "many difficult legal and policy issues (that) required resolution ... We recognize this is a vulnerable population and we want to ensure that our policies and procedures are sound, " according to a press release issued Monday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Under the proposed rule, hundreds of trafficking victims and family members who received T visas in 2005 or before — could apply for green cards.

In 2001, Congress approved granting as many as 5,000 T visas each year under the Trafficking Victims act. Those T visas give victims and their qualifying family members temporary permission to stay up to three years in the United States to rebuild lives and avoid retribution they could face in home countries.

The law also called for regulations to permit trafficking victims to permanently resettle here after T visas expired.
But until Monday, those regulations had never been issued. That left hundreds of victims in legal limbo — including dozens here in Houston.

American Samoa victims

About 300 victims who could be eligible for green cards under the proposal were rescued in American Samoa in 2001 in the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history. All of those victims, mostly Vietnamese women, had been duped into paying their own way to the island for what they thought were legitimate jobs at the Daewoosa sewing factory, where they were forced to work without pay or adequate food, according to court records.

Twenty victims resettled here. The Daewoosa victims also were the first T visa recipients. They were unable to get green cards after their T visas ended — because of the regulation that was delayed until now.

"My clients are going to be ecstatic!" said Boat People SOS Attorney An Phong Vo, who represents the 20 Daewoosa victims who live here. "It's going to (make) a whole world of difference."

The rule will be published in the Federal Register and become final 30 days later.

Tactics Used in U.S. Raids Draw Claims of Brutality

From the New York Times:

MIAMI — Advocates for immigrants here demanded an investigation Tuesday into a series of federal raids last month that they said left at least six Guatemalan men bloodied and bruised in a roundup of nearly 100 people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied all accusations of misconduct by agents in the raids on Nov. 19 in three South Florida counties, noting that the operation focused on sex trafficking and led to charges against seven people and the release of several women.
But lawyers working with other detainees said they were concerned that the agency was using human trafficking laws as a front for broader operations, and a cover for harsh tactics.

“There is a way that these operations should be conducted,” said Jose Rodriguez, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Miami-Dade County. “And this is not it.”

At a news conference, Mr. Rodriguez and others said agents had relied on vaguely worded warrants to invade people’s homes and arrest nearly anyone who looked Hispanic. In all, according to the federal agency, 77 illegal immigrants were detained in the operation, and only a handful appear to have been charged with a crime.

In the case involving the accusations of beatings, none of the men have been charged with sex trafficking. Lawyers working with the men said the agents used excessive force: bursting into their home in Homestead about 8:30 p.m., pulling their guns in front of a 4-year-old girl, then forcing all 10 or 11 men inside onto the floor in handcuffs.

No guns or drugs were found. All the men were Guatemalan immigrants, and the advocates said at least six of them arrived at a nearby detention center with bruises and cuts.

The wife of one detainee, the mother of the 4-year-old girl, said she saw agents kick her husband and others while they were on the floor. She declined to give her name because she feared retribution.

Agency officials, in a statement denying the accusations of abuse and the display of a weapon near a child, said they were required to arrest anyone found to be violating immigration law, regardless of the circumstances.

The statement also said the accusations would be forwarded to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility for review.

But the advocates said that was not enough. Witnesses have already been deported, they said, and without a robust investigation by the agency’s inspector general or the United States attorney’s office in Miami, agents who might have violated the law might never be punished.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Position open in Los Angeles Anti-Trafficking Organization

From CAST's website:

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), established in 1998, has been a pioneer in the anti-trafficking movement in the United States and works exclusively with trafficked persons. CAST is a multi-ethnic human rights organization whose mission is to assist persons trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and slavery-like practices and to work toward ending all instances of such human rights violations. CAST has provided training and technical assistance to thousands of NGO and government personnel and represented the United States at international events on human trafficking. CAST is a grantee of the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services and, as one of the leading anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S. , has extensive expertise to deliver quality training to participants.


Purpose of the position:

Under the general supervision of the Associate Director, the Office Administrator is responsible for the management of administrative, bookkeeping, and facilities functions for CAST. Supervises the Administrative Assistant and any office-related staff or volunteer positions. The CAST office is highly technological and requires that the Office Administrator be comfortable and knowledgeable of the latest technological advances in order to maximize both inter-and intra-agency efficiency and communications. Full-time, exempt position.

Essential duties include tasks in office management, administrative management, supervision, policies & procedures, office equipment and services, administrative support, bookkeeping, accounts receivable & cash receipts, accounts payable & cash disbursements, payroll, human resources, among additional duties.

Last day to apply: January 31, 2009
For the full profile of the position and requirements, click here.

Remitt Resume (word,txt formats) to Enter Office Administrator in the subject line. No phone calls please.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oman Committed to Curbing Human Trafficking, Abuse of Children

From the Khaleej Times Online:

MUSCAT – Oman, which recently set up a Human Rights Commission, has reiterated its commitment to curbing trafficking in humans and sexual exploitation of children.

Social Development Minister Dr Sharifa bint Khalfan Al Yahya’eeya, extending her country’s wholehearted cooperation to the global drive against the menaces, also revealed that the government had formed working teams to survey the Sultanate’s regions and review the conditions of children and families with the aim of drawing up a ‘rapid intervention plan’. 

“The Omani society vehemently opposes all forms of sexual exploitation because it contradicts with the values and traditions of the Omani society as well as the teachings of Islam,” she said.

She was addressing delegates at the ‘World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents’ in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

She said the Sultanate considered a strong family as the first line of defence against sexual exploitation of children, adding that the Basic Law of the State guaranteed the dignity of all citizens and residents and protected them against violence and exploitation, regardless of their age, ethnic background or religion. 

The laws in force in the Sultanate, Dr Sharifa said, prohibited all forms of sexual exploitation of children, slavery and trade, possession or promotion of pornographic materials.

“The first draft of the Child Law is currently under revision by the departments concerned as well as NGOs,” she added.

She said the ministry had constituted working teams to survey all the Sultanate’s regions and assess the conditions of children and families and prepare a rapid intervention action plan.

Dr Sharifa observed that the Internet is being used at a global level to destroy the lives of millions of children through the “propagation of the sex business which keeps luring children to the making and distribution of pornographic materials”.

She said the Rio de Janeiro congress must be considered as an important step in efforts to realise children’s rights.

Five major themes are being addressed by the congress — forms of commercial sexual exploitation and the emerging scenarios in this respect; international trafficking; child pornography on the Internet, sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in tourism; and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in prostitution.

Friday, November 28, 2008

World Congress III Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children opens in Brazil


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, 26 November 2008
– Some 3,000 participants from more than 125 countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for last night’s opening ceremony of World Congress III Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.

The event, which runs from 25-28 November, is focusing on how to protect children from various types of sexual exploitation such as child marriage, the commercial sex industry, child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children on the internet. Among the opening night speakers were Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

Veneman reminded those in attendance that sexual exploitation is a way to assert control over others, often by men against women and children. She also noted that men need to be a big part of the solution.

Earlier in the day, Veneman met with children from Brazil who are fighting sexual exploitation in their own country. Later, she met a group of children from all over the world, and listened to their stories of sexual exploitation in their home countries.

A global reality

The sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is gaining growing visibility as a global reality. Worldwide, children are suffering from the effects of trafficking, pornography, prostitution, rape and abuse.

The opening theme of the World Congress focused on a systemic approach to protecting children from sexual exploitation.

© UNICEF/0986/ Noorani
A young girl drapes her hand over the shoulder of a man she is soliciting outside a brothel in the city of Tangail, Bangladesh.

The importance of educating children about sexual exploitation "is as important an obligation as it is to give food every day to the children so they can survive," said Brazil's President Lula during his opening remarks.

Exploitation may be increasing

Many studies in the last decade, including the recent UN Study on Violence Against Children, indicate that the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is increasing. There is also growing evidence of criminal activity related to the trafficking of children for sexual purposes and the proliferation of exploitative imagery and other internet-related crimes.

The sexual exploitation of children is fuelled by international demand, which threatens children and adolescents of all ages, in every corner of the world.

The driving force behind the third World Congress is to make the global response more emphatic and comprehensive as this problem continues to become more complex in its manifestations and scope.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2005-0944/Haviv
The rape of women and children is a recognized weapon of war. A 12-year-old girl, displaced by conflict in the Darfur Region of Sudan, was raped by government soldiers.

A worldwide response to sexual exploitation

As a key organizer of the Congress, UNICEF will join the international community to better protect children from sexual exploitation and reinforce the basic right to protection that must be guaranteed for all children.

The Brazilian Government, UNICEF and other partners involved in the Congress see it as being practical, solution-driven and innovative. It is an opportunity to broaden alliances, address new challenges and promote international cooperation for more effective prevention and response to sexual exploitation.

Setting goals to protect children

Additional organizing partners of the Congress are UNICEF, ECPAT, and the non-governmental organization 'Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child'.

Throughout the three-day event, there will be many workshops and discussions. Five panels will deal with identifying forms of commercial exploitation, developing a legal framework, adapting policies that address these issues and strengthening forms of international cooperation.

The event will result in setting important goals for how countries will fight the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Human trafficking arrest in Nigeria

From The Punch:

Eighteen foreigners and a Malian suspected to be the kingpin of human trafficking in Nigeria, were on Friday, handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Offences by the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Immigration Service.

The alleged kingpin, Mr. Mahmud Culibaley, was arrested after a tip-off by the NIS at a border town in Lagos, while trying to arrange for the distribution of the 18 foreigners to different parts of the country.

The 18 illegal immigrants were from Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and Mali.

Culibaley was alleged to have facilitated the entry of hundreds of illegal immigrants into the country in the last few months.

According to the Comptroller, Lagos Command of the NIS, Mr. Ayo Oredipe, the upsurge in illegal immigrants is becoming a major threat to national security as the motives or intention of the immigrants cannot be immediately ascertained.

Worried by this development, the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr. Chukwurah Udeh, had recently summoned the top hierarchy of the Immigration to discuss and find a solution on issues of human trafficking.

He said, “We have a serious issue that had been of concern to government. We discovered that so many able-bodied men are being brought into the country. We are not certain about where they are going, but we want to put a stop to it.

“It is true that there is poverty, but it has not got to the stage of bondage. What is going on is a threat to national security; this is a situation where the productive manpower from other countries is entering Nigeria illegally.

He added, “We were given a mandate to fish out Culibaley and here he is with 18 other foreigners waiting to be distributed to different parts of the country. We are going to hand him over to NAPTIP and we suggest that he should be prosecuted.

“He said he had been in this business in the last six months, but today, his business empire had collapsed.”

The Public Relations Officer, NIS, Lagos command, Mr. Sunday Abutu, said that investigation carried out could not link their movement with terrorism, stressing that it was more of human trafficking.

In an interaction with our correspondent, Culibaley, who said he was the leader of Malians in Nigeria, disclosed that the foreigners usually gathered at a point from where they were brought into Lagos by motor cycle operators.

While admitting that the illegal immigrants were brought in for labour, Culibaley, however, said that he knew that what he was doing was illegal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Four People Arrested For Sex Trafficking Of Immigrant Women In South Florida

Image from a campaign by the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

From The Miami Herald:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, in coordinated South Florida raids, arrested four suspected sex traffickers and rescued nine trafficking victims who had been forced into prostitution in several brothels, federal authorities said late Friday.

Officials said actions occurred in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

In a statement, authorities identified the four suspects arrested Wednesday as Arturo Rojas-Gonzalez, Elodia Capilla-Diego, Fidel Gutierrez-Gonzalez and Rosalio Valdez-Nava.

According to criminal complaints, ICE conducted an investigation into more than a dozen brothels and stash houses where immigrant women were forced into prostitution.

On the same case, here is more information from

Detention hearings are scheduled for each of the defendants on Tuesday.

ICE conducted an intensive investigation into more than a dozen brothels and stash houses where immigrant women were being forced into prostitution. Through statements of former victims, corroborated by surveillance and evidence obtained through search warrants, ICE arrested the four alleged brothel operators as part of a larger criminal organization operating similar brothels across South Florida.

Officials also worked with non governmental organizations to identify, rescue and provide assistance to the victims.

Friday, November 21, 2008

ILO releases new handbook on Combating Forced Labor

From the ILO:

The International Labour Office (ILO) is to reinforce its efforts to help employers and the private sector contribute to the global fight against forced labour, which the ILO estimates afflicts more than 12 million persons worldwide.

The Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL) of the ILO said it had prepared a new handbook that would fortify the capacity of employers and business leaders to assess the risk of forced labour and human trafficking in their operations and global supply chains.

“The role of employers and the private sector in the fight against forced labour is of paramount importance”, said Roger Plant, head of the ILO programme. “Business is increasingly asking for guidance in combating forced labour, and we intend to continue supporting them.”

The new publication entitled “Combating forced labour: A handbook for Employers and Business”, provides information on issues such forced labour, human trafficking, prison labour, debt bondage, abuses in labour contract systems, overtime and different forms of coercion in employment. It was developed in extensive consultation with experts from companies, as well as international and national employers’ organisations and civil society groups, all from different regions and economic sectors.

The handbook provides practical guidance for businesses of all kinds, including advice on what action they can take to prevent or rid forced labour in their supply chains.

The new handbook has been endorsed by the International Organization of Employers. IOE Secretary-General Antonio Peñalosa said it would provide with “much needed new tools to help employer organisations and their members understand the issue of forced labour, in taking the necessary measures to avoid being involved in those situations and in contributing to the total elimination of forced and compulsory labour”.

David Arkless, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Affairs of Manpower added that his organization “welcomed this recent initiative as an important and timely intervention, and one that will significantly help companies in all sectors address this challenging issue”.

“Employers’ organisations, in particular, are strategically well-placed to lead this work with the private sector, and business involvement is key to the success of the ILO’s campaign to rid the world of forced labour”, Mr. Plant said.

The webpage of the manual outlines reasons the private sector should play a role in combating labor trafficking and the set up of the document:

There are many reasons why business and employers’ organisations should play a central role in the global fight against forced labour and human trafficking:

-Legal compliance: Forced labour and trafficking in persons are punishable as crimes in most countries around the world, and companies found involved in such activities could face prosecution.
-Managing risk and reputation: To be successful, companies must manage risk in an environment where risk is not static and can emerge through the actions of the company itself, its suppliers and other actors. Allegations of forced labour and trafficking present legal risks as well as serious threats to brand and company reputation.
-Forced labour in global supply chains: Globalisation and the growing links across countries and firms have raised forced labour and trafficking in persons as significant issues within global supply chains.
-Codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility (CSR): The elimination of forced labour is a key element of codes of conduct and other CSR initiatives. Companies – particularly those that supply consumer markets and have significant brand value – face new and growing expectations that production will comply with social and human rights criteria.
-Forced labour and human trafficking are morally unacceptable.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From CNN:

Story Highlights

-UK government: Around 4,000 women trafficked in the UK for sexual exploitation
-Interior ministry introduces new proposals to clamp down on sex trade
-Minister: Measures will shift the focus onto sex buyers because they create demand
-Sex workers representative: Move is counterproductive, will force prostitution underground

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Paying for sex with trafficked or exploited women would become a crime under new laws proposed by the UK government Wednesday.

The act of purchasing sex is not currently a criminal offense in England and Wales -- although there are laws against paying for sex in a public place and persistently soliciting prostitutes.

Now UK Home Secretary (interior minister) Jacqui Smith says she is proposing the new measures to protect vulnerable women and tackle the demand for prostitution.

Britain's interior ministry, known as the Home Office, introduced the new measures Wednesday after a six-month review that looked at what else the government could do to protect women being exploited for sexual gain.

"I want to do everything we can to protect the thousands of vulnerable women coerced, exploited or trafficked into prostitution in our country, and to bring those who take advantage of them to justice," Smith said in a statement.

Smith said the new measures will shift the focus onto sex buyers because they create demand for prostitution and demand for the trafficking of women for sex.

"There will be no more excuses for those who pay for sex," she added.

As part of the review, the government looked at the experience of other countries including Sweden -- which has criminalized paying for sex -- and the Netherlands, where brothels are licensed.

The government estimates around 80,000 people are involved in prostitution in Britain, with about 4,000 women having been trafficked for sexual exploitation. It says the prostitution market nationwide is worth up to £1 billion ($1.52 billion).

Trafficking is the movement of women from one place to another for the purposes of sex. British Authorities have said trafficking usually involves the trafficker promising to bring a woman to Britain for a better life and then forcing her into prostitution.

The measures -- which must be approved by Parliament -- would mean that those committing the new offense would be given a criminal record and fined £1,000 ($1,520) -- even if it was a person's first offense and the offender did not know the prostitute was being controlled by a pimp or had been trafficked.

Police would also be given powers to close and seal premises suspected of being used for sexual exploitation, such as brothels, which the government said will prevent further exploitation and abuse from taking place.

Current law prohibits curb crawling, which involves soliciting prostitutes from a motor vehicle persistently or in a manner that causes annoyance to the neighborhood. It also prohibits "persistent soliciting," which is essentially curb crawling without a car.

But representatives of sex workers attacked the plans Wednesday, saying they will force prostitution further underground and make women more vulnerable to violence.

"It's going to really make it more difficult for men to use the sex industry, and it's going to mean that women are going to have to take more risks in order to earn the same money," said Cari Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes. "It's also going to drive it underground. It's going to increase the stigma."

Mitchell said the government's figures are inflated, and that most immigrant women working as prostitutes have not been trafficked and are working independently.

The new measures, she said, confuse prostitution with trafficking and take the focus off those women who may be vulnerable.

"Of women who may be trafficked and forced, what they need is to be able to come forward and report to the police without any fear of being deported," Mitchell told CNN.

The new restrictions on curb crawling won't end the practice, Mitchell said, but simply give prostitutes less time to weigh up any potential dangers before getting in the client's car.

CNN provides a topics page with video and the most recent stories on human trafficking.

Post on Dipnote from Mark Lagon

This is a post from Dipnote, the official blog of the U.S. State Department:

About the Author: Ambassador Mark P. Lagon is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

I have recently visited two major powers in the Middle East -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- quite different from one another in the context of trafficking in persons (TIP). I came away with striking impressions from my visits and dialogue.

There are some promising efforts in Egypt. Amendments to the child protection law last June define for the first time crimes of trafficking of children. This includes the most serious TIP vulnerability in Egypt: children (especially street children) exploited as domestic servants or in prostitution.

Since ratification of the UN TIP Protocol four years ago, discussion of crafting a comprehensive anti-human trafficking law has seemingly accelerated. The Egyptian anti-TIP interagency group (like the one I chair in the United States) is consulting with UN agencies on the law's content, and we hope it will cover internal, as well as transnational (e.g. through Egypt to Israel), TIP.

Notably, a rising generation of key government officials has a clear interest in fighting the gross exploitation which constitutes TIP. 

Nonetheless, it was clear from our visit to Cairo that Egypt needs a system for identifying victims and for referring them to social services. Although drop-in centers for vulnerable street children exist, we hope the Government of Egypt and civil society will band together to make these centers safe havens for all children exposed to forced begging, sexual exploitation, and other harm on the streets.

Sexual exploitation of young people is taking some troubling forms in Egypt. We learned of Sudanese refugee girls and young women lured into prostitution by gangs. This is a sorry fate for those fleeing Sudan. Moreover, sex tourists are increasingly going to places like Luxor and Alexandria to abuse Egypt's young. I stressed how the United States has enacted and enforced laws to punish child sex tourists who commit crimes abroad, and is urging European nations to follow suit. One particular horror is Saudi and other Gulf visitors acquiring (and I use that word purposefully) youth brides in so-called "temporary marriages." 

It was, in fact, the Gulf and Saudi Arabia which we flew to next. I had very direct dialogue with the Ministries of Interior, Labor, and Social Affairs, sharing our steady, though not perfect, experiences in confronting TIP at home.

The sponsorship system in Saudi Arabia -- tying migrant workers to a single employer -- is rife with vulnerability to human trafficking. This system, which is seen throughout the Gulf, is compounded in Saudi Arabia by the disproportionate power given to employers of housemaids, construction workers, and agricultural laborers in the form of exit permits. A migrant worker cannot leave the country without the okay of their "sponsor." This gives unscrupulous employers devastating leverage should they subject workers to abusive conditions or withhold their pay. We heard countless testimonials of this kind of abuse.

One potentially positive initiative is discussion of reforming this sponsorship system. We were told by senior officials of serious discussions to create large labor companies in the Saudi Kingdom to more flexibly manage the placement of workers. If adopted this could do much to reduce the vulnerability of migrant workers, and indeed offer momentum to similar changes throughout the smaller states of the Gulf.

We visited two shelters -- one run by the Ministry of Social Affairs and one by the Embassy of the Philippines. The contrast between the two was marked. The Government shelter is limited to serving female domestic workers who are not met by employers at the airport, as well as short-term guests near resolution of contract disputes in court. But there is no systematic or broad referral of victims to this shelter. 

By contrast, the Philippines is as active on behalf of the welfare of its migrant workers in the Kingdom as it is worldwide. We met with housemaids compelled to flee employers. One woman was in two leg casts after leaping to escape from a window. We heard of employers' repeated violence, and the squeezing of every hour of the day and ounce of energy from these survivors. One such survivor described the brutality of the employer who kicked, pushed, and punched her for the slightest mistake. Facing years of court battles if they brought their cases to the court, many of these women opted dejectedly to simply return to the safety of their home countries.

The stories of these victims drove home the violence and desperation women and migrant workers face in Saudi Arabia and many other countries, at the hands of people who treat them as less than human. States must step up to the responsibility of protecting the helpless on their soil. The United States devotes diplomacy to this cause every day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ALDE Hearing on Human Trafficking

This video is a collection of statements from members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, composed of elected Members of Parliament from different political parties of the Member States of the European Union. These national delegations cooperate together in the European Parliament as the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). One of their campaigns is Stop Human Trafficking, and it focuses on the progress of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Palermo Protocol. Currently, the Convention has been signed by 22 countries and ratified by 18.

Sensitisation of officials: a must to curb human trafficking

From the Press Trust of India:

New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) The fight against Human trafficking crimes would require sensitisation of law enforcement officials and other stakeholders, the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said today, pressing for an intensified action to curb the social menace.
"We need sensitive police officers, prosecutors and magistracy," he said, adding that it was the only way of improving the quality of justice delivery in such crimes starting from registration of cases to investigation and to the delivery of justice in such cases.

"We have a lot of talented people and we just need to increase the creed of fine prosecutors and judicial officers," he said, inaugurating a colloquium on Justice Delivery in Human Trafficking Crimes here.

Linking the social problem with attempts to give it a colour of religion in some states, the Chief Justice said "It is not merely an economic problem but is also associated with superstition...People need to be made aware of the problem and we, through NALSA, are trying to sensitise people on their rights." Trafficking is a complicated problem and it requires a co-ordinated and interdisciplinary response. "It touches on the domains of human rights protection and gender justice while posing some difficult problems for law-enforcement officials," the CJI said.

Releasing a resource book on the Legal Framework for Anti-Human Trafficking measures, Chief Justice Balakrishnan said "This book is meant for use by law enforcement officials and other stakeholders with the aim of sensitising them about effective role that they can play." PTI

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Study pushes for action on human trafficking

From the Concord Monitor:

The state needs to do more to address the growing trend of modern-day slavery, according to a report released yesterday by the Statewide Interagency Commission on Human Trafficking, which recommended legislation and training for law enforcement officials as means to counter what it calls a problem transcending borders.

There are few documented cases of human trafficking in the state because the crime is difficult to quantify, said the report's lead author, Jennifer Durant of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. But incidents over the past several years indicate that the state is not immune.

Human trafficking is characterized by the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtainment of a person through force, fraud or coercion for labor or sexually commercial purposes.

Federal laws criminalizing human trafficking have inspired some states to draft localized legislation. It's important for New Hampshire to address the issue in its criminal code, Durant said, and to coordinate and train law enforcement and victims'-rights agencies.

Lawmakers and committee members gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Concord yesterday to release the report, "The Hidden Problem of Human Trafficking: Addressing Modern Day Slavery in New Hampshire."

A recently reported case involved a 17-year-old girl who was forced to work as a sex slave near the Seacoast, according to the report.

In August 2007, a former victims' advocate got a call from the National Human Trafficking Hotline in New York City, which connected her with the victim. The girl, who escaped her captors, told the advocate that she had been kidnapped from her native country when she was 12 and forced to work as a sex slave with five other girls in the house. The girl said she had been starved for days and stabbed in the abdomen, the report said.

After the advocate picked the girl up and brought her to the crisis center, she called the national hotline back.

During the call, someone mentioned contacting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Because the woman was undocumented, she fled and was not heard from again, the report said.

Captors often tell victims they will get in trouble if they try to get help, Durant said.

According to the Center for Women Policy Studies,

SB 194 establishes the Statewide Interagency Commission on Human Trafficking. The commission is charged with analyzing the adequacy of existing criminal legislation to address human trafficking and making recommendations for revising these criminal statutes or creating new ones; working with law enforcement personnel to develop methodologies for collecting data on human trafficking; identifying available federal, state, and local programs that provide services to trafficking victims; and evaluating approaches to increase public awareness of trafficking. The commission must report its findings and recommendations to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house, the senate clerk, the house clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 2008.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leading Brazilian Bank Joins International Fight Against Child Pornography

From MarketWatch:

Banco Bradesco is the First Institution in the Latin America Region to Join the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography.

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) announced today that Banco Bradesco, one of the largest financial institutions in Latin America, has joined the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography (FCACP). The Coalition is a group of leading banks, credit card companies, third party payment companies and Internet services companies working together to fight commercial child pornography over the Internet. Launched in 2006, the initiative is managed by ICMEC and its sister organization, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Child pornography has become a multi-billion dollar commercial enterprise and is among the fastest growing businesses on the Internet. The Internet has enabled instant access to child pornography by thousands and possibly millions of individuals around the world. Consumers are able to use traditional payment tools, such as credit cards, as well as new, alternative payment schemes, to purchase child pornography on the Internet. The mission of the Coalition is to follow the flow of funds and shut down the payments accounts used by these illicit enterprises.

"From the start of the Coalition, we knew that it would take a truly global effort to tackle this horrendous problem," said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and Chairman of the Coalition. "Banco Bradesco's commitment, expertise and leadership role in the financial industry will fortify our efforts as we work to disrupt the economics of commercial child pornography."

The exact number of child pornography web sites is difficult to determine. In 2001, the CyberTipline, a U.S. reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation operated by NCMEC, received more than 24,400 reports. By October 2008, the number of reports had climbed to more than 636,000.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Report: Natalee Holloway Suspect Involved in Thai Sex Trafficking

From Fox News:

A suspect in the 2005 disappearance of an Alabama teen in Aruba is involved in selling Thai women into prostitution, a Dutch TV reporter claims.

Reporter Peter De Vries has made a second hidden-camera expose on Dutch student Joran Van der Sloot, who was believed to be with Natalee Holloway when she vanished while on a senior trip to Aruba. De Vries won an Emmy this year for another report on Van Der Sloot, 21, in which the student admits to dumping Holloway’s body after she suddenly began shaking and died as they were kissing.

De Vries’ latest report, which was shown Sunday night on Dutch television, shows Van der Sloot telling someone posing as a sex-industry boss that he can get passports for Thai women and girls who think they are going to the Netherlands to work as dancers, reported.

Van der Sloot makes about $13,000 for every woman sold into prostitution in the Netherlands, De Vries claims.

“The pictures show how little respect this 21-year-old has for the lives of others,” De Vries told a Dutch newspaper. “The fact that he goes into the trafficking of women after the disappearance of Natalee is typical of him.”

In February, judges rejected an attempt to arrest Van der Sloot for a third time in her disappearance. He was released due to insufficient evidence the first two times he was arrested.

Aruban prosecutors had sought to detain him based on hidden-camera recordings captured by a Dutch TV crime show. In the video, Van der Sloot said Holloway collapsed on the beach after they left the bar and he called a friend to dump her body at sea.

Joseph Tacopina, a lawyer for student Van der Sloot, said in February that his client was not responsible for the Alabama teen's death and that the tapes did not amount to a confession.

"There was no confession, no admission of a crime by Joran on any of these tapes, which is very telling," Tacopina said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

According to the report by, Thai authorities are now asking for a copy of the report that was released on Sunday with evidence of Van der Sloot's involvement in the trafficking of Thai women to the Netherlands.

Human Trafficking Unit to Disband

From BBC:

November 10, 2008

A London police unit dedicated to tackling human trafficking will close after the Home Office withdrew £2.3m funding support.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed the Human Trafficking Team will disband in April 2009.

Critics say the unit is vital to protecting vulnerable men, women and children who are sold or lured into the sex trade, slavery or illegal working.

But the Home Office said the money was intended as one-off start-up funding.

A Home Office spokesman said the government's support for the policing of those who traffic people into the UK for the sex trade or as low-cost illegal workers will continue.

"The Met does not have the additional funds to keep the team running in its current format whilst meeting other existing policing requirements." Charities that attempt to rescue those trafficked into the UK against their will estimate that as many as 4,000 people are currently in the country as a result of being trafficked. Many are used as slave labour or forced into prostitution.

Slave labour

"We have made it clear that trafficking should be core police business and a high priority, and the Home Office is continuing to support forces' effort, notably through funding the UK Human Trafficking Centre with £1.7m this year."

But in a statement, the Met said the dedicated team launched in March 2007 will have to cease operations because it does not have the money to keep it open.

Read the full article

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Protect children from exploitation in tourism, a new campaign

From the Dominican Today:

MADRID, 7 November -- As tourism and international travel across the globe reaches unprecedented levels, so does the need to combat child labor and sexual exploitation in the global travel industry -- that is why the United Nations body for tourism is taking action now.

A new awareness campaign from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism will look to raise the profile of children who are being exploited.

A total of 218 million children are estimated to be engaged in labor world wide, while millions are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, according to the International Labor Organization.

The UNWTO strongly believes that the tourism industry has a moral obligation and a special responsibility to combat child labor, sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.

“The tourism industry is an economic sector that creates job opportunities and enriches the lives of many people across the globe. We, in the UNWTO, stand for responsible and sustainable tourism, one that is respectful of the people and their local culture, and committed to help generate income and decent employment for local communities. But most of all, we stand for an industry that is respectful of human rights. Our industry has, therefore, a strong obligation to be at the forefront of this campaign” says Taleb Rifai, Deputy Secretary-General of the UNWTO. “We must act now. Children are our future. Don’t let child abuse travel!”

"There are few human rights violations more disturbing than the exploitation of children either for labor or sexual acts. All of us who work in the field of tourism should fight against these abuses and contribute to their eradication," says Dawid de Villiers, Chairman of the International Task Force.

For the rest of the article, click here.

UNWTO's website outlines opportunities for people to get involved in the campaign:
  • Using the campaign’s logo wherever possible
  • Distributing the logo, sticker and other print materials.
  • Linking your website to
  • Organizing your campaign in your community using the tools
  • Planning an event for 20 November - Universal Children’s Day
  • Distributing the video (available on November 10)
  • Informing your media contacts about the campaign
  • Sending us information on your activities for our campaign
This topic was the focus of several sessions at the 2008 UNGIFT Vienna Forum. As outlined on the campaign's action list, this effort will require extensive public-private cooperation as well as the active involvement of individual people to become informed and responsible travelers. Get involved today.

Human trafficking on the rise in Mekong countries

From Xinhua:

HANOI, Nov. 6 -- Human trafficking in the six Mekong countries is expected to increase due to growing migration within the sub-region, the Laos newspaper Vientiane Times reported on Thursday, citing the Anti-human Trafficking Committee Secretariat Head Kiengkham Inphengthavong as saying.

"Trafficking in persons nowadays is increasingly acute and dangerous. It operates in a very intricate manner, and comes in many forms, and is therefore very hard to monitor and control," said Kiengkham Inphengthavong at the sixth Senior Officials Meeting held in Vientiane on Wednesday as part of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT).

Annually, the number of people trafficked from and within the region is estimated at between 200,000 and 450,000, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The meeting brought together government officials from the six Mekong countries - Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Myanmar and Cambodia - to share their experiences and decide on appropriate responses to the increase in human trafficking.

"The purpose of human trafficking is not only for sexual exploitation but also labor exploitation in factories, sweatshops, domestic work, begging and in the fishing industry. The problem is far more widespread than many would think," he added.

According to the Laos' Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, from 2001 to 2008, 1,229 trafficked people, mostly women and girls, have been repatriated to Laos from Thailand under the Lao-Thai memorandum of understanding on human trafficking.

Laos is developing victim protection guidelines to ensure a more holistic and rights-based approach to the provision of care and assistance to victims of human trafficking, Khiengkham said.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Craigslist to crack down on sex ads

From the AP:

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Under the watchful eye of law enforcement in 40 states, Craigslist pledged Thursday to crack down on ads for prostitution on its Web sites.

As part of Craigslist's agreement with attorneys general around the country, anyone who posts an "erotic services" ad will be required to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. The Web site will provide that information to law enforcement if subpoenaed.

Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist's CEO, said the deal will allow legitimate escort services to continue advertising, while providing a strong disincentive to companies that are conducting illegal business.

"We don't view it as a penalty, we view it as raising the accountability," he said. "A legitimate business should have no problem with that. They should have no problem providing a phone number or credit card credentials."

Craigslist filed lawsuits this week against 14 software and Internet companies that help people who post erotic service ads to circumvent the Web site's defenses against inappropriate content and illegal activity.

Craigslist, which posts 30 million ads every month for everything from apartment rentals to jobs in hundreds of cities, will also begin using new search technology in an effort to help authorities find missing children and victims of human trafficking.

Police across the country have been arresting people for using Web sites like Craigslist to advertise the sexual services of women and children.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who brokered the agreement, said his office contacted Craigslist after receiving several complaints from users late in 2007 about photographs depicting nudity on the site. He said Craigslist cooperated fully and there was never a need to threaten legal action against the company.

"The dark side of the Internet must be stopped from eclipsing its immense potential for good," Blumenthal said.

He added: "I am fully convinced that Craigslist wants to stop this activity as much as we do."

For the rest of the article, please click here.

The 2009 Freedom Awards

Free the Slaves is pleased to announce that they are currently accepting nominations for the 2009 Freedom Awards.

The Freedom Awards celebrate the vision and courage of community-based organizations, survivors of slavery, individual leaders and young adult anti-slavery activists who are showing the way to a world without slavery. Please help by making a nomination. Please also pass along this invitation to anyone who might be able to nominate suitable organizations or individuals. Self-nominations are welcome.

Each award has its own requirements and nomination form. To get more information and the correct form, visit the awards webpages: or send an email to:

The deadline for nominations is Monday, December 1, 2008.

The awards will be given out during the fall of 2009. Awardees will be flown to the USA for an inspirational evening that honors the vision and courage of slavery survivors, community based organizations bringing slaves to freedom, individual leaders, young adult activists and communicators spreading the word about slavery.

Proposition K: Decriminalizing Prostitution in San Francisco

Shall the City: stop enforcing laws against prostitution; stop funding or supporting the First Offender Prostitution Program or any similar anti-prostitution program; enforce existing criminal laws that prohibit crimes such as battery, extortion and rape, regardless of the victim's status as a sex worker; and fully disclose the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against sex workers?

Fiscal Impact from City Controller:

Should the proposed ordinance be approved by the voters, in my opinion, costs could increase or decrease depending on how the City implements the ordinance. The ultimate cost or savings from the proposal would depend on decisions made in the City's budget process.

In general, the ordinance proposes to decriminalize prostitution by restricting the City from allocating resources to the investigation and prosecution of prostitutes for prostitution. Investigation and prosecution of other crimes related to prostitution would not be restricted.

The result so far: 42.43% Yes votes ...... 123,508 / 57.57% No votes

What do you think?

More info

* Thanks to Tom out in SF A Call for Bloggers


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We are currently hiring for the following positions and are always open to new suggestions:
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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Stakeholder Collaboration Pays Off in the Philippines

From News Balita:

November 5, 2008

Department of Justice (DOJ) undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor hailed the initiative of the private sector and other non-governmental organization in assisting the government in its fight against human trafficking syndicates.

Blancaflor particularly praised the steps taken by pioneering computer and software giant Microsoft Corporation in educating through the internet young women throughout Asia regarding the evils and dangers of dealing with illegal labor recruiters.”

Microsoft’s initiative will do a great deal in boosting the campaign against human trafficking. It will definitely bear fruits one of these days,” he said.

Blancaflor stressed that the government’s limited resources in going after these syndicates make this alliance with the private sector very convenient.

He said NGOs and private sectors allies of the DOJ are very useful in providing information and logistic support in going after human traffickers.

Blancaflor made this pronouncement shortly after he informed the media that Philippine and Malaysian authorities succeeded in neutralizing a Kuala Lumpur-based Singaporean national, Alfred Lim, who is involved in human trafficking of Filipinas and other nationalities.

He said the arrest and filing of appropriate charges against Lim by Malaysian and Philippine authorities speak well of the cooperation between Southeast Asian nations in the war against human trafficking.

Read the full article

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Time for change.

Sex Trafficking Gang Jailed in UK

From the Guardian:

By Rachel Williams
November 4, 2008

A gang of human traffickers, brothel keepers and pimps received substantial jail terms yesterday over the ordeal of a teenage virgin tricked into travelling to the UK for a life of sexual "slavery".

Their Slovakian victim had cried in the dock as she described spending nearly a year-and-a-half working as a prostitute after being lured to Britain at the age of 16 with the promise of a job in a pub. She told of being sold on from owner to owner, raped by one who was never identified, beaten and threatened.

Six men received sentences of up to 14 years for what the judge called a "terrible story of betrayal".

One, Turkish-born Ali Arslan, was also involved in the plight of a second victim. He was convicted of running a brothel in Hackney, east London, where the 22-year-old woman was forced to work after leaving her six-month-old baby daughter with relatives in Lithuania, having been convinced by one of her brother's school friends that she could earn good money in a warehouse in Britain to provide her child with a better future.

London's Southwark crown court heard she was instead sold for £4,000 to a man who raped and assaulted her before putting her to work as a prostitute. He was never caught.

Read the full article

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Google Project 10^100

Project 10100 is a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible.

Human Trafficking Creating Economic Change is one of the submitted ideas.

More about Project 10100

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Child Traffickers Active in the Philippines

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