Saturday, May 31, 2008

Human Trafficking Thrives Across N.Korea-China Border

An infrared photograph shows two naked people crossing the Tumen River in the dark -- one is a human trafficker and the other a North Korean woman.

From Chosunilbo:

A 26-year-old North Korean woman, Mun Yun-hee crossed the Duman or Tumen River into China in the dawn of Oct. 22 last year, which at that point was some 40 m wide, guided by a human trafficker.

She was being sold to a single middle-aged Chinese farmer into a kind of indentured servitude-cum-companionship. Both of them wore only panties, having stored their trousers and shoes in bags, because if you are found wearing wet clothes across the river deep at night, it is a dead giveaway that you are a North Korean refugee.

Mun was led to a hideout, and the agent left. Asked why she crossed the river, she replied, "My father starved to death late in the 1990s, and my mother is blind from hunger." Her family owed 300 kg of corns, beans and rice and sold herself for the sake of her blind mother and a younger brother.

The middleman paid her 350 yuan, or W46,000 (US$1=W939), equivalent to half of the grain debt.
A Chosun Ilbo news team became the first in the world to see the scale of human trafficking in the China-North Korea border. The exodus in the famines of the latter half of the 1990s has degraded into blatant human trafficking.

In the 10 months since May, 2007, the team witnessed the lives of North Korean refugees in five countries: China, Russia, Japan, the U.S. and Britain. In China, the refugees live day and night in fear of deportation to the North and poverty.

"I was first sold to a 34-year-old Chinese man in Shandong Province. Six months later, public security officers arrested me one day at midnight. Asked how, they said on a notification by a neighbor," Mun said. She was immediately sent to Dandong prison, from where a group of North Korean detainees were deported to Shinuiju chained two and two. There, she was thrown into a North Korean State Safety and Security Agency camp for a month.

"They took a quantity of blood to check possible venereal disease. Undressing the women, they checked even inside the sexual organs with gloved hands,” Mun recalled. If you repeat sit-and-stand 20 times, you vomit up everything you have eaten. Male inmates are forced to strike their heads against the steel door and beaten with clubs when they resist. Pregnant inmates were forced to miscarry on the grounds they were bearing Chinese children.

“The meals of corns with one side dish served were so poor that we longed for the meals we were given by the Chinese prison." Transferred to an escapees camp in Chongjin, North Hamgyeong Province, she was released after a stint of hard labor in 17-hour shifts.

Several months later, now 25, she again entrusted her body to a trafficker.
An officer from the Durihana Mission, an organization assisting North Korean refugees, asked her, "We won't sell you to a Chinese. Will you go to South Korea?" Without hesitation, she replied, "I'll go back to the Chinese man who bought me first. I want to live with him, eating plenty and earning money, and send money to my family at home."

For the benefit of her blind old mother and younger brother, she opted to stay in China, risking another deportation. The Durihana Mission officer, failing to persuade her into going to the South, bid her farewell after buying her a few pieces of winter clothes.

Read the full article

Nigeria: Porous Border Aids Human Trafficking

From allAfrica:

Nigeria's porous border with its northern neighbour Niger is being exploited by traffickers smuggling teenage girls to Europe where they will work as prostitutes, immigration officials told IRIN."Our 910 kilometre boundary with Niger is too much for us to police which provides human traffickers an advantage to conduct their trade of smuggling young girls to Europe for prostitution," Oemi Bio Ockiya, head of the Nigerian immigration department in Kano told IRIN.

Ockiya said girls are transported from the southern part of Nigeria to Kano from where they are driven to Libya through Niger and then shipped to Europe, their final destination, for prostitution.

The traffickers convince the girls and their parents that lucrative jobs await their victims, but force them into prostitution once in Europe by holding on to their passports.The trafficking of young women to Europe through Kano has been a common occurrence.

Hitherto the traffickers would smuggle their victims through Kano airport using fake and stolen passports.

However the introduction of state-of-the-art passport reading machines and a run of high-profile arrests meant the traffickers resorted to driving the victims overland to Niger then Libya from where they are shipped to Europe, Ockiya said.

Ahmed Bello, head of the federally-funded National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons [NAPTIP] in charge of 18 northern states said trafficking is also spreading HIV/AIDS."Our investigation shows that 40 percent of trafficked girls repatriated to Nigeria test positive to HIV and this has serious social and economic implications," he said.

Read the full article

Friday, May 30, 2008

Senator Calls for More Protection of Overseas Filipino Workers


Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday called on the government create more jobs in the country and to implement countermeasures to protect overseas Filipino workers from falling prey to syndicates involved in human trafficking.

"The government should generate more jobs in the country to stop workers from seeking employment abroad," Estrada added.

Estrada is concerned with the worsening poverty in the country that forces Filipinos to seek employment abroad.

He said the Philippine embassy in Singapore had recently reported that the number of Filipinas victimized by human traffickers increased by 70 percent last year compared to 2006 figures.

In a report submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the embassy said that 212 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2007 compared to 125 the previous year.

Only 59 cases of Filipino human trafficking were reported in 2005.

Reports said that 57 Filipinas, or 27 percent of the total Filipino victims of human trafficking, admitted to have engaged in prostitution.

Estrada, concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said international syndicates are preying on desperate workers trying to get employment abroad to help their families.

Sex Tourism Turning Northern Marianas into Human Trafficking Hotspot

From Radio New Zealand International:

Sex tourism and US troops in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas may be fueling a demand for human trafficking there.

An organisation helping victims of human trafficking says it has seen a rise in the numbers of victims seeking help from 36 last year to 54 this year.

The Karidat Social Services says most women come from China and the Phillippines with many forced into prostitution or work as exotic dancers.

The manager of the Guma Esperansa Shelter for Battered Women, Laurie Okomoro, says the Marianas is a hotspot for human trafficking because of its proximity to many Asian countries as well as the ongoing demand for sex workers. “There’s a sex tourism industry here that no-one really wants to admit, there’s also businesses gear up for the US military ships to arrive and so they have lots of karioke and dance shows involving nude dancers and that feeds the trafficking industry.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thai Ministry Proposes Anti-Trafficking Day

By Penchan Charoensuthipan

From the Bangkok Post:

Thailand- The Social Development and Human Security Ministry will ask the cabinet to declare June 5 National Anti-Human Trafficking Day. The date is when a new anti-human trafficking law comes into effect.

Panita Kamphu na Ayutthaya, director-general of the ministry's social development and welfare department, said yesterday that the ministry would seek a green light from the cabinet to make June 5 National Anti-Human Trafficking Day.

The ministry will also kick off its serious campaigns against human trafficking on that day. The new anti-human trafficking law will help women, children and men who have become victims of prostitution, pornography, sexual abuse, forced labour and forced organ trade. It intensifies punishment against traffickers, spares victims from prosecution, provides victims with legal rehabilitation and conceals their identities and those of their families.

Saisuree Chutikul, an activist against trafficking in children and women, said concerned officials would have to enforce the new law effectively as they had been poor at nailing traffickers.

Nigeria Needs Funding for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Written by Chinyere Amalu

From the Vangaurd:

Executive Secretary of National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP), Mrs. Carol Ndaguba, says it requires about N3 billion to function effectively.

Announcing this in Abuja yesterday at the 12th National Stakeholders Consultative Forum on trafficking in persons, Mrs. Ndaguba called for inter-agency collaboration and renewed proactive intervention in the fight against human trafficking in the country.

Her words: “Due to the type of work we do in this agency, a lot of money is required, and this cannot be anything less than N2-3 billion. We need more than this but can start from somewhere. Also, you cannot rehabilitate victims of trafficking with an empty hand. So, we need a lot of assistance both financially to carry out this work.

“It takes a lot to handle the issue of human trafficking. We run a shelter home for them in all the states. In a month, we feed about 600 people currently in the shelters undergoing training and rehabilitation. So, we really need increased funding to do the job,” she said.

She described human trafficking as evil, adding that it required increased and sustained effort by all stakeholders to eradicate the crime from the society.

“It is expected that inter-agency collaboration and renewed proactive intervention mechanisms would lead to, among other things, enlightening the vulnerable population, widening the scope of our campaigns to effectively suppress and eradicate the evil activities of human traffickers especially at the grassroots level,” she said.

Read the full article

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Police Break Up Macedonian Human Trafficking Ring

From the Southeast European Times:

As Macedonia seeks visa liberalisation from the EU, it is cracking down on human trafficking. On May 8th, the country received an EU list of requirements such as "integrated border management" that it must meet before its citizens can travel without visas to EU states starting in 2009.

On April 20th, police arrested seven people from Skopje allegedly complicit in smuggling illegal immigrants to western countries over the past ten years. They followed the group for a year and made arrests in Skopje. Besnik Gudjufi, Menduh Adjami and Enes Kamberov are its suspected organisers. The other detainees were Isuf Ramadani, brothers Semi Brahimi and Naser Brahimi, and Lejla Baftijar. "The criminal group was organising a chain for human trafficking to western countries," Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska said. She credited infiltrators with collecting "evidence and documentation of smuggling of nine people from Kosovo".

The group was sending people from Kosovo to Germany, Sweden, France and Switzerland via Alexander the Great Airport. Clients who had Serbian or UNMIK-issued Kosovo travel documents received forged visas, plane tickets to their desired countries and accommodation.

According to the ministry of the interior, the Meni police operation started last year with inquiries and infiltration. After instituting these measures, police caught two emigrants sent by this group on August 11th 2007, finding them on a Skopje-Geneva flight. Authorities captured another five would-be emigrants who were flying from Skopje to Paris one month later.

Read the full article

Western New York Working to Halt Human Trafficking

From WBFO:

LEWISTON, NY (2008-05-15) Western New Yorkers were shocked in December when a police sting closed down several massage parlors operating a sex slavery business. But members of the local human trafficking task force say no one should be surprised. Members of the task force and others gathered Wednesday to begin educating the public on who is being victimized and what is being done to stop it.

About two hundred people showed up bright and early for the conference at Niagara University. They settled in with hot coffee and pastries ready to hear about the legal fight to halt the estimated $16 billion human trafficking industry. But they were woken up quickly to the very human side of this dark business.

Toronto journalist Victor Malarek spent two years interviewing victims in several countries. And he did not flinch from telling people exactly what he found out -young girls, tortured and living in fear.

Malarek recounts these and other horrifying realities in his book, The Natasha's: Inside the New Global Sex Trade. He said people need to open their eyes to what is happening all over the world to young women and girls.

Hundreds of thousands are taken to other countries and forced to work as sex slaves. He said some are lured from desperation to other countries with false promises of a legitimate job and a better life.

And many are sold into slavery by those who are supposed to protect them. Malarek said orphanages in Russia are prime suppliers of some of the youngest victims.

From WBDO:

And officials say no one is paying much attention to them when they show up in our neighborhoods either. The December sting revealed that eleven Asian women were held as sex slaves in some of Western New York's most unsuspecting suburbs.

Amy Fleischauer is coordinator for Trafficking Victims' Services at the International Institute in Buffalo. She said the community ca not pretend it is not happening here.

She said the Buffalo Niagara region is a prime spot for human trafficking. Partly because of its border location, she said the region serves as a pass through and training ground for Toronto and New York city. But she said there is also plenty of demand right here, not only for sex slaves, but for all kinds of slave labor, from agricultural to domestic.

And she said the victims are not necessarily foreign born - some are United States citizens, and include women, girls, men and boys.

Read the full article

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Teen Sex Slavery in the U.S.

From ABC News:

January 20th, 2007- Teen prostitutes, not even old enough to drive, walk the streets of our cities selling their bodies every night. They call it "the life," but what they're forced into is sexual slavery.

"I got sold," says Sara, who asked that ABC hide her face and change her name for this story. "Like I was an animal."

Mistreated, lonely and living in a foster home in a rough neighborhood, Sara was lured into "the life" by a man who claimed to love her. She was only 13. "He told me things like no guy had ever told me," Sara says. "So I felt like a $100 million."

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 100,000 and 3 million American kids under age 18 are involved in prostitution and they're often targeted by sexual predators.

"There are sexual predators out there specifically looking for vulnerable kids so that they can sell them," says Rachel Lloyd, founder of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, in New York City, an advocacy group that provides services to sexually exploited girls from age 12 to 21.

The average age of a child when he or she is first sexually exploited is 11, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Even if the child is a somewhat willing participant, according to U.S. and international agreements, children can never consent to prostitution: it is always exploitation.

The cities with the highest incidence of child sexual exploitation, according to the FBI, are Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

As many as 40 percent of all forced prostitutes are juveniles, according to the FBI. "There are girls that are literally kidnapped off the street [and] thrown into a car," Lloyd says. "There are pimps who pose as model agency scouts."

Read the full article

Slavery in Missouri

By Amelia Waters


Many shelters house abused women and children. Some shelters receive victims that have been through worse. Human trafficking for commercial sex is one of the worst ways to treat a human being. I found one woman who works in a shelter in northwest Missouri who has helped trafficking victims who come in from third world countries.

"We have dealt with many cases where as the girls are brought in as mail-order brides, when they got here basically they were used for prostitution and pornographic purposes," said Cheryl Leffler, who operates a women's shelter in northwest Missouri for more then 10 years.

We've agreed to safeguard its location to protect its clients. But how does it come to this?

"They usually start with just written correspondence with them, and after they have pretended to be the perfect person they get the girls to trust them," said Leffler.

Traffickers promise the world to potential victims and pay for their plane ticket to Kansas City. Traffickers then take them to their home, where the horrific experience begins.

"They had been traumatized. Their first sexual experience had basically been brutally raping them to get them under control," states Leffler, "'This is what's going to happen to you if you don't do what I tell you.' They thoroughly believe these guys will kill them."

Leffler told us of one woman's experience, after being locked in a house she fled for her life once she saw an unlocked door. Running down the street, a local church member helped her and brought her to the shelter.

Rescuing victims doesn't stop the cycle of trafficking.

Bringing trafficking victims into a shelter is only the first step. Leffler went on to tell me how she believes local law enforcement authorities are reluctant to help.

"We've had issues in rural Missouri that law enforcement are reluctant to believe these girls. They're reluctant to help because they're not us citizens," quoted Leffler, "We sometimes deal with racial issues and they sometimes just don't want to help them."

Leffler also says Missourians in rural areas are reluctant to help as well.

"I think Missourians are definitely in denial," she stated strongly, "We have a large population of immigrants in our area and I don't think its an issue people want to think would happen in this area."

Is there a profile of a trafficker? Most of those Leffler's shelter has dealt with are middle aged white males, 40 to 60 years old. They're isolated and are likely to be involved with drugs and alcohol.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Mission to Save Troubled Girls

By Christie Coombs


When Kelley O'Connell goes to work each day as a Boston Police sergeant-detective, her goal is challenging but straightforward: to save young women from life as a prostitute.

For the past three years, O'Connell has headed the Boston Area Human Trafficking Task Force. Her focus is on helping runaway and displaced teens, many of whom are coerced into prostitution by what she calls street gang thugs.

"Because of technology and the ease of communication with cellphones and Internet, the problem has worsened," said O'Connell. "The Internet has brought it from the street corners to the inside, making it less obvious to law enforcement so it's been able to flourish."

O'Connell, who spent 10 years of her 23-year career working in the gang unit, said she had a challenging time "selling" other agencies, and even her superiors, on the idea that teenage girls deserved their own program.

"When you think of human trafficking, you think of people unloading from cargo ships. You don't think of teen girls being sold to men or between gangs for the purpose of sex," she said. "But through my work with gangs, I knew it existed, but we had no idea where to start. So after educating myself, I tried to educate everyone around me. It took a good two years to sell the problem to them.

"Prostitution and child exploitation know no class or racial bounds, said O'Connell. It doesn't matter if the girls are black, white, or Asian; from good families, or not; from the suburbs or the city.

A case in point: Two young girls from Norwood who got hooked up with a pimp via the Internet and disappeared to Boston. Fortunately, after three days, the girls were returned home before they became too involved in the business, she said. and are common sites where the pimps advertise, said O'Connell, who headed up intelligence for the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Posted on O'Connell's bulletin board in her basement cubicle at her Boston office are pictures of some of the pimps she has been trying to locate.

She has a database of more than 200 young women, one as young as 11 years old, and more than 120 active pimps. Many of the girls are missing persons or runaways involved with the Department of Social Services or are involved with juvenile court's Children in Need of Services program.

Read the full article

Dutch May Need to Check Prostitute's License

From Stuff:

Clients of prostitutes in the Netherlands may soon need to check for a sex licence.

The Dutch cabinet said on Friday it wanted to crack down harder on the country's sex industry, in particular unlicensed sex operators, as part of efforts to combat human trafficking.

"That is why the cabinet wants to make it an offence to use the services of a sex operator without a licence or a non-registered independent prostitute," the government said in a statement.

Prostitutes have plied their trade in the narrow alleys of the old centre of Amsterdam for centuries. While they used to attract sailors and merchants in the city's heyday as the heart of a global trading empire, they are now a huge tourist draw.

The Dutch cabinet officially legalised prostitution in 2000.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Philippines: The Department of Health Hit for Exemption of 8 Israeli Kidney Patients from Ban

From the Inquirer:

Donate your own kidneys before asking poor Filipinos to do so.

This was the challenge Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral leveled at Department of Health officials for approving the exemption of eight Israeli patients from the moratorium of kidney transplants to foreigners.

Cabral on Monday expressed her distress over the decision of the DoH National Transplant and Ethics Committee (NTEC) allowing the foreign patients to undergo transplantation, which was subsequently approved by the Philippine Board of Organ Donation and Transplantation (PBODT).

"Assuming that altruism is the only reason for the PBODT and NTEC's recommendation, may I suggest that it is but right that they each give one of their kidneys to these foreigners before they ask others to do so," Cabral said in a statement Monday.

"Their good example should influence many others to do the same. That happening, the DoH should find it easy to get a host of affluent individuals, along with the [poor people], to donate their kidneys too," she said.

She also dared transplant surgeons and other experts and physicians involved in kidney transplantation to perform such altruistic act.

"Then, we shall have no problem providing kidneys to all Filipinos with renal failure who want a transplant [and] we may even be able to spare some for foreigners," she said.

Cabral issued such biting statement also as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee against Trafficking, which has been mandated to protect the poor and the disadvantaged and to ensure that the law against human trafficking was implemented.

She reiterated that Republic Act 9208 (the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) made selling or importing of human organs by means of fraud, deception and abuse of power punishable by jail terms of at least 20 years plus stiff fines.

Filipinos in dire need of cash have been the usual victims of an illegal harvesting kidney-harvesting network operating in various parts of the country. Most of the time, these poor Filipinos are being duped into selling their kidneys for a meager amount.

Asia Against Child Trafficking, a nonprofit group advocating for an absolute ban on kidney trade, earlier reported that Filipinos are the cheapest source of kidneys in the global black market for human organs, selling them for a measly $1,500.

Read the full article

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chocolate & Slavery

New Technology to Help Indian Government Combat Trafficking in Airports


The home ministry has installed state-of-the-art machines at all international airports in order to check the authenticity of passports, so that human trafficking can be curbed.

''In order to check the veracity of passports, we use magnifying glasses and ultraviolet lamps have been installed at all international airports. The central government has also undertaken issuance of machine readable passports, which are more secure,'' said Radhika V Selvi, Minister of State for Home, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

''Moreover, Passport Reading Machines (PRMs) and Questionable Document Examiner (QDX) machines have been installed at all major international airports. Specific training is also imparted to immigration officers to detect forged/false documents,'' Selvi added.

Read the full article

Friday, May 23, 2008

Human Trafficking in Maryland on the Rise

From the Examiner:

MARYLAND, United States- Human trafficking is on the rise throughout the region, those who work with victims say, but so are local efforts to combat it.

“Maryland is viewed as a state that hasn’t done a good job of combating [human trafficking], and that’s made it worse here,” Del. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s County, who has introduced legislation to crack down on trafficking, told The Examiner.

Since its founding in 2003, District of Columbia-based Ayuda, a nonprofit group that helps human trafficking victims, has gone from a handful of cases to serving more than 100 victims, spokeswoman Estera Barbarasa said.

Those cases are evenly split between men and women, Barbarasa said. The victims come from all over — the Middle East, Europe and Asia — but the majority are Hispanic.
And, although human trafficking is commonly perceived as a sex worker issue, it also includes farmhands, construction workers and domestic help — anyone who’s been tricked or forced into traveling across borders and has had his identification taken from him or falsified.

Human trafficking is not something either the Montgomery County or Prince George’s County police departments make arrests for, police officials said. Part of the reason is that until last year, human trafficking wasn’t considered a separate crime, Benson said. Now, it’s considered a misdemeanor, but she’d like to make it a felony.

That’s why George Udeozor, who was extradited from his Nigerian home earlier this month for a 2004 conviction, wasn’t charged with human trafficking despite having brought a teenage girl to the United States on a fake passport, said Jessica Salsbury, a lawyer at Casa of Maryland. Udeozor and his now ex-wife, Adaobi, told the girl’s parents she would be paid and attend school, but, instead, all she received was sexual abuse and forced labor, according to federal prosecutors.

Read the full article

UAE Takes Tough Stand on Trafficking

By Zoi Constantine

From the National:

The UAE has underlined its determination to stamp out human trafficking in a report outlining, for the first time, a raft of measures being implemented to combat the crime. Download the report here.

Tough penalties, support to victims and co-operation with an international network against human trafficking form part of the approach described in the report from the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), chaired by Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Combating Human Trafficking in the UAE 2007, released a year after the establishment of the NCCHT, also covered the challenges faced by those trying to tackle the problem, said Dr Gargash. “The report seeks to document our serious efforts to combat human trafficking and to outline and articulate our four-pillar strategy,” he said. “Through a tough legal framework, preventive action, our social support network and transnational co-operation, we intend to assert the UAE’s commitment and lead role in combating this heinous crime.”

The report will be presented at a UN General Assembly debate on trafficking in June in New York. It explains the steps being taken by the UAE since the introduction of Federal Law 51 in 2006 – the nation’s first legislation to be enacted against human trafficking – which set tough penalties ranging from one year to life in prison and fines of up to Dh1 million (US$273,000).

At least 10 human trafficking cases were registered in UAE courts in 2007 under the framework of Law 51, the report said. At least five cases resulted in convictions during the year, with jail terms ranging from three to 10 years for committing, aiding or abetting human trafficking.

“The country’s resolve to fight human trafficking at home and abroad in collaboration with international partners remains central to our counter-trafficking strategy,” Dr Gargash said.

Read the full article

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Conversation with Adi Ezroni, Producer of "Holly"

The Trailer:

About the movie

A Struggle for Survival: Trafficking of North Korean Women

Mark P. Lagon, Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

From the U.S. Department of State:

March 3, 2008- I would like to begin by thanking the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for hosting this morning’s discussion and also thank Bob Hathaway, a former colleague on the Hill, for the kind introduction and for putting together this forum on a very important issue: the exploitation and trafficking of North Koreans, specifically women and girls.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a source country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, and for the fifth consecutive year has been placed in Tier 3, the lowest tier, in our annual Trafficking in Persons Report because it is making no discernible efforts to combat the trafficking of its citizens.

It has been well-documented, and publicized, that the dire conditions in North Korea include a severe shortage of food , a lack of basic freedoms, and a system of political repression which includes a network of government-operated prison camps, where as many as 200,000 prisoners are subjected to reeducation and slave-like conditions. The circumstances in the DPRK lead many North Koreans to seek a way out across the border into Northeast China where tens of thousands of North Koreans may reside illegally, of whom it is estimated that more than half are women.

Commonly, North Korean women and children voluntarily cross the border into China, but some of these individuals, after they enter the P.R.C. in a vulnerable, undocumented status, are then sold into prostitution, marriage, or forced labor. The trend of North Korean women trafficked into and within China for forced marriage is well-documented by NGOs and international organizations. Sometimes North Korean women are lured out of North Korea with the promise of a “better life” as waitresses or factory workers, and then are forced into prostitution in brothels, or exploitative labor arrangements.

A potential factor, among others, in the trafficking of brides is the gender imbalance caused by China’s one-child policy. There is, in short, a demographic man surplus relative to marriageable women. All agree that the two governments are not doing enough to prevent or punish the practice of forced marriage. NGOs and international organizations find it difficult to work independently in the PRC, so little assistance reaches this vulnerable group of DPRK women who have crossed into China.

North Koreans crossing the border are extremely vulnerable to trafficking given their illegal status in China and their inability to return home. A core principle of an effective anti-trafficking strategy is the protection of victims. The United Nations Protocol on Trafficking in Persons calls on governments to protect foreign victims of trafficking, including legal alternatives to deportation to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Greater government efforts need to be made to protect this highly vulnerable group of victims.

Unfortunately, China classifies North Korean refugees as “economic migrants” and forcibly returns some to the DPRK where they may face severe punishment, including in some cases execution. The PRC stands by this policy; however, the U.S. consistently urges China to treat North Korean asylum seekers in line with international agreements to which it is a signatory. China’s poor transparency and the political sensitivity of the issue hamper our efforts to effectively advocate for change on this issue.

Some steps to address the problem are being taken in China. The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently began a new project to work closely with the China Enterprise Confederation to educate entrepreneurs, owners, and managers of various enterprises that in the past have been linked to trafficking, such as hotels, karaoke bars, restaurants, bars, and massage parlors. The All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) and non-governmental organizations have a number of ongoing prevention and education projects in affected provinces. In the past five years, with assistance from UNICEF and international non-governmental organizations, China has established transfer, training and recovery centers for trafficking victims in four provinces and has assisted more than 1,000 trafficked women and children. ACWF works closely with law enforcement agencies and border officials to raise their awareness of the problem of trafficking.

Read the full article

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quebec Couple Sues Crown, RCMP and Police Over Bogus Human-Slavery Charge

From the Canadian Press:

MONTREAL, Canada- A Quebec couple who say they were humiliated and had their reputations ruined by overzealous authorities are seeking $5 million in civil damages over a bogus human-trafficking charge laid against them.

Nichan Manoukian, his wife Manoudshag Saryboyajian and their four children are suing the provincial government, the RCMP and Laval police, according to a statement of claim filed at the Montreal courthouse. The Mounties trumpeted the couple's arrest in May 2007 as a first in Canada since criminal laws on human trafficking were introduced in 2005.

The couple were accused of mistreating their live-in Ethiopian nanny, Senait Tafesse Manaye.

The Crown dropped the charges against the couple last December.Manaye began living with the family in 1997, in Lebanon, where the couple found her through an agency.

The couple have said they treated her well and returned to Canada with Manaye in 2004. Police removed her from the home in January 2006.

Neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants commented Tuesday because the matter is before the courts and will be presented in front of a judge next month.

The statement of claim contains allegations that have still to be proven in court.

It alleges the family endured several embarrassing moments and have lost all credibility within their community since police began acting on a tip a woman was being treated like a slave.

Since police intervened, Manoukian, an interior decorator, has "fought tooth and nail to save, defend and re-establish his reputation and his wife," the statement reads.

Read the full article

Human Trafficking Suspected at Two Richmond Massage Parlors


Local and federal officials raided two massage parlors Tuesday in Richmond, Ind., as part of a national sting operation investigating prostitution and human trafficking.

News Center 7 was the only television news crew on the scene when authorities busted the Apple Studio Spa and the Sunshine Spa in Richmond Tuesday afternoon.

Four women were taken away in handcuffs from the two establishments. Police said they found evidence of a sex shop in both locations.

The raids were part of 19 in 3 different states by U.S. Customs, Immigration Enforcement and local police.Authorities said they suspect the women are sex slaves in an international human trafficking ring. They believe the ring operated from Korea to Ohio and two other states.

Three Women Accuse Owner of the City of Hope of Selling Their Babies

From Gulf News:

Three young women of different nationalities are accusing the owner of the City of Hope shelter, Sharla Musabih, of selling their new-born babies to families in the UAE.

The women claim they were forced to give up their babies without compensation.

Irina Guseynova, a 25-year-old Russian woman, arrived in the UAE through Sharjah airport on June 3, 2003, on a tourist visa.

She is currently being detained at Dubai Central Jail for staying illegally in the country after being arrested in Abu Dhabi. She told Gulf News that she came here when she was only 20 with another Russian woman, to work as a prostitute.

"The moment I landed at the airport my boss seized my passport. I worked as a prostitute for a year just to pay back my boss the cost of bringing me here, and then I started to work on my own," Irina said. "Later I met an Emirati man from Fujairah. He told me we were married in the Muslim way, and I believed him," she said.

She added when she was six months pregnant the man ran away, leaving her with no money, no food and expecting a child.

"An Uzbekistani human rights activist took me to Sharla. I stayed in her villa in Jumeirah from August 19, 2005 until November 9 when I gave birth to my baby boy at Al Oasis Hospital in Al Ain," she said.

Irina claimed Musabih promised to help her get her passport back and help her with a ticket home, but she did not do it. "The day I went to Sharla an American woman married to an Emirati, identified as Linda, took me to Fujairah Hospital for a health check-up," she said.

Irina said during her stay Sharlah tried to convince her to give her baby to Linda, because Linda had no children and in return Irina would be given a ticket home. "Sharlah threatened to pass my info on to the the police if I refused to give them my baby," she said.

"On the day of the delivery an Ethiopian woman, identified as Zahra, took me to Al Ain and at 11pm on February 9, 2005, I gave birth to my baby boy, whom I have never seen," she said. "I was not allowed to touch or to look at my baby. When we went back to Dubai from Al Ain the next day, Zahra held my baby in her arms and at Sharla's villa the baby was kept away from me in a hall. I tried to enter the hall to see the baby but Sharla did not allow me," she said.

Irina added she was scared and decided to escape that same day at midnight. "After some time, while I was in Abu Dhabi staying with friends, I received a phone call on my mobile from Linda who asked me to go for a full medical check-up, but I did not go. A few days later Linda contacted me again, but I said I had no money."

"Linda was outraged and said she had paid Sharla a huge amount of money in return for my baby," Irina said. Irina said she never received a single dirham from Sharla or from any one else in return for her baby.

Read the full article

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Filipina Accuses Shelter of Selling Her Child

From the Philippines Star:

A Filipina has accused the owner of a shelter for selling her baby to a family in the United Arab Emirates.

Gulf News reported that the Filipina, who refused to divulge her name, said she has given birth to a baby boy in 2005 with the aid of Sharla Musanih of the City of Hope shelter.

The baby was soon sold to an American woman identified as Layla who is married to a Saudi man living in Dubai.

The Filipina is one of three victims including a Russian and Uzbekistani by Musabih who earlier said that she never had pregnant women in her shelter. Musanih has yet to reply to the accusations.

Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and head of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking said the "UAE government is keen to fight international human trafficking."

The Future Face of the Trafficked

By Ayesha Ahmad

Trafficking is often an issue referenced in the
past or the present.

Statistics concentrate on how many people are currently being exploited and the activities that they are forced to do, often justified as repaying debts the victim 'owes' to the trafficker. Sometimes victims of trafficking manage to escape or are rescued. Facing the fear of what will happen to them and their families if they speak out against the trafficker, the victim’s story is always a harrowing account of the difficulties involved in putting one's life back together.

Post traumatic stress disorder is common amongst women who have been trafficked and forced into prostitution.

And if a person is freed, because they often return home to the same desperate economic conditions that led them to seek employment to begin with, there is always the chance that they will re-trafficked.

In this personal account I want to describe my thoughts on a particular experience I encountered whilst in Cambodia that invoked not the past or the present, but a future instance of trafficking:

Walking through the streets of
Phnom Penh, each footstep has to be carefully placed to avoid pools of dirty water, sewage and an array of rubbish.

Feeling hot and flustered I glanced down the street to mentally plan my path through the debri.

I saw a lady sitting in the middle of the street near to where cars, trucks and tuk-tuks haphazardly flew by.

I can still picture the lady vividly. Her clothes were ragged and dirty. The hot sun had worn her skin to a leathery texture. She appeared to be alone, then I noticed the tiny newborn baby she was breastfeeding.

There was nothing surrounding her, no open stove that some families had next to them on the street nor other children or adults. Perhaps she had family and they were busy trying to earn money or find something to eat, but for that moment that I stopped in my tracks and saw this lady.

She was alone.

She was so alone that even the noise, chaos and dirt of the street she sat in escaped her. Despite my struck stare she did not look back.

People walked on by watching where they tread.

It was in this moment of shock and horror that I felt a wave of anger crash over my body: the image of a lady so frail breastfeeding her child while sitting on the ground of a dirty street was incomprehensible to me. I wondered where she had recently given birth and if it had been in a street like this, out in the open, in public, delivering her crying baby to the sound of car horns.

You simply did not see this in London.

Who would be interested in this lady and her child?

And that’s when I realised that this babe is the face of a future child who is likely to be sold or coerced into child prostitution in one of the hundreds of brothels throughout the city. In a few years time I could see the circumstances in which this lady could be cornered into either selling her child or letting her child go- living on the street fending for oneself is hard enough, but add another mouth to feed and whatever money, food and other resources that can be scrounged are spread that much thinner.

Many times promises are made by traffickers to hopeful parents who sell their children for a lump sum of money ensuring them that the children will be looked after and provided with jobs that will send income home. Perhaps this is the point where hope creates illusion and a mother can rationalize the decision to sell her baby.

Is this barbarism or vulnerability?

Do the parents really understand what will happen to their children when they sell them? What are their options and how are they actually supposed to care for a child or children when they have neither the food nor shelter?

Who can judge this lady for her future decisions regarding this baby?

Without being in the same desperate situation, it is hard to fathom how it would feel and what should and should not be done. Living is one thing, survival is another. The necessity to survive is the breeding ground for decisions that would otherwise seem highly irrational.

I stood amidst the crowd watching this lady and newborn child sitting in the middle of the street, like a moment-less island in the world that walked on by.

I wonder where they are now. I wonder how the old woman is. I wonder how the child is. The noise and pollution of a bustling city street juxtaposed with the purity of birth and the struggle of life echoes in my mind.

People walked on by watching where they tread.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Trafficking Overview

By Vitit Munt Arbhorn

From the Bangkok Post:

The Palermo Protocol on human trafficking, attached to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime 2000, helps to define human trafficking as recruitment or transfer of persons for the purpose of exploitation, and this can pave the way to an appropriate definition at the national level.

While sexual exploitation is often in the news, human trafficking covers many other forms of exploitation, including for labour and for adoptions. However, there is often confusion on the issue of consent- can a person consent to be trafficked implying that trafficking with the consent of the victim should not be criminalised? The international consensus through the Palermo Protocol is that consent is immaterial- a victim needs to be protected against trafficking irrespective of whether it is voluntary or not.

Another area of confusion is between human smuggling and human trafficking. The latter has to do with a person who is either in an exploited situation or on the way to an exploited situation, while human smuggling concerns a third party helping someone to enter another country illegally (not necessarily for exploitation).

On a related front, there is a need to address both the supply and demand, and thwart the intermediary. The supply side often involves local people producing illicit goods or providing the humans to be traded as the illicit goods. A key challenge is to address those sources through development measures which can enable them to avoid being involved in elements of exploitation, and to prevent criminality.

These are closely linked with the need for livelihood opportunities, access to education and productive activities which help to keep children from falling prey to the criminal market. These are particularly pertinent to preventing children from being used either as objects of human trafficking or as instruments of crime such as drug couriers.

The intermediary comes in various shapes and sizes ranging from small scale abusers to transnational organised crime syndicates. There is a need for effective sanctions against them, with adequate penalties, and in the worst-case scenarios, the types of exploitation perpetrated by them related to human trafficking can be seen as crimes against humanity subject to international criminal courts.

The demand side also needs to be dealt with creatively. In a Scandinavian country, for example, customers of prostitutes, rather than the prostitutes, are now criminalised. The law in Thailand incriminates the customer in the case of the sexual exploitation of those under 18 years of age, but there is a large gap between the principle and the practice of law enforcement.

There is also a need to promote community and family participation against trafficking. Precisely because the problem of drug and human trafficking often arises from the community level, before being transformed into a larger-scale cross-border affair, action is needed to motivate local communities and families to act against this trafficking. In-school and after-school programmes to involve teachers, parents and children are important entry points for constructive activities, consciousness raising and preventing children from being lured into the negative market.

Communities and families are also important as watchdogs against abuse and to help the victims reintegrate into society and prevent them from returning to exploitative situations. Moreover, effective mechanisms and processes are required to identify the victims and to be victim sensitive: treat them as victims/survivors rather than criminals.

There is a clear need to have a mechanism, such as an inter-agency panel, to help identify the victims of human trafficking and act quickly and effectively. This would need to be linked with a referral system so that victims do not land in jail or in immigration detention centres for illegal entry into the country, but can be referred to welfare facilities.

Read the full article

Under Wraps, Prostitution Rife In North Afghanistan

*This article sheds light on the connection between prostitution and the spread of HIV and AIDS. Although prostitution is not by any means always connected to sex trafficking, the societal health risks posed by the respective issues remain the same.

From the New York Times:

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - When 19-year-old Fatima returned to her home in northern Afghanistan after years as a refugee in Iran, she struggled desperately to earn a living.

She briefly found work with an NGO, before being let go, and then spent two months learning how to weave carpets, before the factory shut down and she was again out on the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Determined to support her mother, two sisters and young brother, she turned to a profession that has long been practiced the world over but remains deeply suppressed in conservative Afghanistan -- prostitution.

"I had no other way but prostitution," says the pretty teenager, dressed in tight blue jeans with a black veil pulled loosely over her head.

"I get up early in the morning and wander around the city," she said, at first reluctant to discuss her work. "My customers stop me and give me a lift and then we talk about the price," she explains, her face coated in make-up.

Sometimes charging $50 a time, her work is illegal and would bring shame on her family if discovered, but it provides a lifeline she otherwise could not have imagined.

And there is anecdotal evidence, supported by doctors concerned about the potential for the spread of HIV and AIDS, that more and more young women across northern regions of Afghanistan are turning to sex work to escape grinding poverty.

Mohammad Khalid, a doctor who runs an AIDS awareness clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif, says he has seen a rise in infections, although from a very low base, and fears that women working in prostitution are reluctant to come forward to be tested.

"Unfortunately the public is not aware of the risk of HIV infection," he says. "It is very dangerous and these prostitutes will be a major factor in spreading it."

Read the full article

Sunday, May 18, 2008

US Sees Progress in Curbing Trafficking of Filipinos

By Cynthia Balana

From the Inquirer:

The US State Department has acknowledged the overall progress being made by the Philippines in curbing human trafficking, the Philippine embassy in Singapore said on Wednesday.

Philippine Ambassador Belen Fule-Anota said that Ambassador Steven E. Steiner of the US Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons made this statement when he met with officials of the Philippine Presidential Task Force on Human Trafficking who came to investigate the alarming increase in the trafficking of Filipinos in the city-state.

In that meeting, Anota proposed to improve inter-agency cooperation, particularly in the areas of rehabilitation, re-integration and witness protection for the victims, and the prosecution of traffickers.

Steiner, who visited the embassy on the sidelines of a meeting in Singapore, took note of the ongoing bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and the US. Embassy officials exchanged notes with him and discussed possible areas for strengthening bilateral cooperation.

In a report submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) early this year, the embassy cited an alarming increase in human trafficking cases from 125 in 2006 to 212 in 2007, a surge of 70 percent. There were only 59 recorded cases in 2005.

Of the 212 human trafficking victims in 2007, 57 or 27 percent admitted to either having engaged in prostitution or were coerced by their Filipino and Singaporean handlers to prostitute themselves. Of the 57 victims, 39 were pub workers, 15 worked in the escort service, while three were pick-up girls.

Read the full article

Faces of Modern Slavery

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Filipina Recognized for Efforts to Combat Trafficking

Ma. Cecilia “Cecil” Flores-Oebanda, second to the right

From the Inquirer:

For her efforts to battle human trafficking, the head of a Filipino non-government organization became the first Asian to be recognized as a “social entrepreneurs” and awarded a three-year, $1-million grant by a US-based foundation.

Ma. Cecilia “Cecil” Flores-Oebanda, president of the Visayan Forum Foundation, received her award from the Skoll Foundation last March 27 at the University of Oxford in England.

Oebanda was cited by the Skoll Foundation as “the first Asian awardee, who will join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions for tackling the world’s most urgent social and economic challenges.”

On Tuesday, Oebanda was honored at a gathering at the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza organized by the Asia Foundation, whose deputy country representative, Ky Johnson, and managing program officer, Maribel Buenaobra, nominated her for the Skoll award.

“The Asia Foundation nominated Cecil Flores-Oebanda for this honor because of her valuable contribution to addressing gender-based violence, particularly human trafficking, in the Philippines,” Buenaobra said.

In her acknowledgment, Oebanda said she hoped to witness the day when human trafficking, which she called “a modern-day form of slavery,” is eradicated.

“We [Visayan Forum] want to ensure that operations of traffickers will be increasingly difficult and young people, especially women, will be able to find work and explore opportunities without the risk of being abused, exploited, sold and enslaved,” she said.

Oebanda spent four years in jail as a political prisoner during the Marcos dictatorship. She started working with the Visayan Forum when she was released after the 1986 uprising that ousted Ferdinand Marcos.

Read the full article

Asia Urged to Be Harder on Labor Traffickers

Mark Lagon

From Radio Australia:

The United States' most senior official on human trafficking says too few Asian countries are imposing strict enough punishments for human trafficking and forced labour.

Mark Lagon is US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's senior advisor on human trafficking.

He's called on Asian countries to impose harsher penalties for people convicted of crimes related to the trade in human beings.

But Allan Dow from the International Labour Organisation says stricter penalties are only part of the solution.

"You cannot combat trafficking, human trafficking effectively by just focusing on law and order," he said.

"If you did that you would end up with tighter border controls which probably wouldn't have much of an impact."
From the World Bank:

Borderless Captivity
Exploitation and Human Trafficking
Photographic Exhibition and Symposium

The World Bank Art Program in partnership with the World Bank Human Development Network and with co-sponsorship from the United Nations’ Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Ricky Martin Foundation, Free the Slaves and International Justice Mission will host an exhibition on exploitation and human trafficking. The exhibition will raise awareness about exploitation and human trafficking as they relate to sex tourism and forced labor.
Photographs by Kay Chernush, Howard G. Buffett, Karen Robinson, Pete Pattisson and Ted Haddock.

About the Exhibit:

The Borderless Captivity: Exploitation and Human Trafficking exhibition is designed as visual narrative to tell a story not of only abuse and despair, but of education, hope and redemption. The exhibition includes photographs, documentaries, and a symposium featuring renowned experts and former victims who will discuss the horrors of exploitation and human trafficking.

Borderless Captivity grew out of a smaller exhibition series sponsored by the Art Program, In the Eyes of a Woman. In the Eyes of a Woman features works of ten women photographers who live, work, or were born in one of the World Bank’s client countries, and whose work reflect the Art Program’s goal of giving a face to the Bank’s work in development.

An integral part of Borderless Captivity is the contribution of Kay Chernush (In the Eyes of a Woman photographer). Chernush’s images on human trafficking and exploitation are on display in the Main Complex Front Lobby. The series is dedicated to women and children affected by exploitation.

Curating an exhibition means orchestrating the works so that the voices of the artist and his/her subjects are heard. This requires understanding the source of each voice. Exhibitions also each have their own “sound.” Some whisper to you, some intellectually or aesthetically flirt with you, and some even challenge you with a dialogue. With human trafficking and exploitation, we suddenly found ourselves hearing the drama of a Greek chorus; Some voices were screaming, some wept silent tears, and some had the laugh of folly.

In preparing for this exhibition, we looked at hundreds of photos, documents and testimonies. Some stories made us clench our teeth, while others haunted our dreams. In returning to the images, we felt impelled to communicate with these victims… compelled to offer a drop of water to extinguish the flames of despair these stories told.

Who amongst us has not experienced misery — as if there were no hope for the future? We are fortunate enough to find the understanding and the eventual space to move on. Most exploited people do not. Their wounds are apparent not only in the form of burned hands and raped bodies, but in false promises, atrocious living conditions and in the arduous work associated with exploitation. As you view these faces, ask yourself “What would I do?” “How would I feel?” “Would I deserve to be free?”

The exhibit will remain on display until May 30, 3008.

Here is the brochure for the event.

Contact Information: Jesse Bisogni
Telephone: 202-458-7320

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mexican National Pleads Guilty to Trafficking

From the Sun Sentinel:

FLORIDA, United States- A Mexican national has pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle Mexican women and girls into the United States and force them into prostitution, the United States Attorney's Office said Thursday.

Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa, 43, is one of 16 defendants charged in 1998 with smuggling the women and girls from Mexico to Florida and South Carolina. Cadena-Sosa remained a fugitive until November 2007, when he was extradited from Mexico to the United States. Nine of the defendants, including Cadena-Sosa, have now been convicted in federal court; one was convicted in state court and another was convicted on related charges in Mexico. A third defendant died while a fugitive. Three remain at large.

According to federal court documents, Cadena-Sosa, his brothers and a nephew operated a number of brothels, some with girls younger than 18, throughout South Florida. The women and girls were smuggled into the country primarily from Veracruz, Mexico, by Cadena-Sosa and his associates.

Once in the United States, the women and girls were informed that they owed a debt to the Cadena organization for bringing them here and that they would be required to repay the debt by working as prostitutes. Those that tried to escape were tracked down. The men used physical violence and threats to intimidate the women and girls, according to court records.

Cadena-Sosa, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday, will be sentenced on Aug. 20. He faces 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Prosecutions of human trafficking cases have increased seven-fold over the past seven fiscal years, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Lost's Josh Holloway Makes Trafficking PSA

Pressure Grows for Guardians to Protect Trafficked Children in the UK

By Robert Booth

From the Guardian:

Leading politicians from the three main parties are putting pressure on the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, to halt the disappearance from care of hundreds of suspected victims of child trafficking.

The Guardian revealed last month that more than 400 foreign children vulnerable to exploitation in prostitution, the drugs trade and domestic servitude went missing from care around major British ports and airports between 2004 and 2007. But the government has rebuffed calls for a system of professional guardians to look after every suspected victim of child trafficking - a crime the United Nations has described as "a modern-day slave trade".

Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, which is investigating human trafficking, said he was "shocked by the number of children going missing". He added that a system of guardians to look after every child now looked "very attractive".

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, called on the government to drop its opposition and fund a system in which every suspected victim of child trafficking is provided with a guardian who "specifically looks out for them and ideally speaks their language".

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said Smith should implement the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings. It requires each child to have "a legal guardian, organisation or authority ... which shall act in the best interests of the child".

"It is disgraceful that this 21st-century version of trading in human misery is still taking place without real action to stop it," said Davis. "It is outrageous that so many cases involving the most vulnerable of victims have been lost."

The children's commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, and Ecpat UK, a coalition of charities including the NSPCC and Anti-Slavery International, also want the guardianship system brought in.

Local authorities have admitted they are losing the battle to keep trafficked children from falling back into their traffickers' hands. Child protection campaigners complain that there are no safe houses in England and suspected victims are housed in less-secure foster homes or council residential blocks. Advocates of a guardianship system claim it would ensure secure housing, education and legal support to stop trafficked children falling back into the hands of their exploiters.

The proposals are based on the Dutch system, which has €25m (£20m) a year in public funding.In Britain, local authorities have lost children from a dozen African countries including Liberia, Somalia and Sudan. The Middle East and Asia are equally well represented, with missing under-18s from Iraq, Afghanistan, China and India. From Europe, young Moldovans, Albanians and Romanians have gone missing.

Read the full article

Microsoft Teams Up with Philippine NGO to Combat Trafficking

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Italy Arrests 400 in Illegal Immigrants Swoop

No mention on whether any of the arrested illegal migrants were victims of trafficking. The article does, however, mention that some of the migrants were arrested on charges of prostitution. According to the U.S. Department of State, Italy has a
strong record of combating trafficking.

By Stephen Brown

From Reuters:

Italian police announced on Thursday the arrest of hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants in a sign of the new right-wing government's determination to clamp down.

Police arrested 383 people including 268 foreigners, with 53 immediately taken to the border for expulsion, in a week-long operation stretching from northern Italy to the Naples area.

Silvio Berlusconi swept back to power for a third term as prime minister last week promising to get tough on illegal immigrants, blamed by many for crime. He is readying new laws to screen immigrants and jail or expel those breaking the law.

Those arrested came from Eastern Europe, Albania, Greece, North Africa and China and face charges ranging from illegal entry into Italy to prostitution, drug trafficking and robbery.

In Libya, police have arrested 240 would-be illegal migrants from several African countries over the past four days as they prepared to sail to Italy, the Interior Ministry said.

Libya is a springboard for hundreds of thousands of Africans trying to reach Europe via Italy on board unseaworthy boats.

The policeman in charge of the Italian operation, Francesco Gratteri, told a news conference the sweep "wasn't aimed at any specific category or ethnic group. The sole objective were criminals who have caused a sensation of rising alarm in society".

The focus of Italian concern about immigrant crime are the Roma, known here as "nomads", who come mainly from Romania and other Eastern European countries. In Rome, police raided the biggest Roma camp and took away about 50 men for questioning.

The arrests coincided with a visit by Romanian Interior Minister Cristian David. Romania has Europe's biggest Roma population and its prime minister warned this week that Italy's crackdown could cause "xenophobia" against other Romanians.

Italy has tried to reassure the fellow European Union member that Romanians are not being targeted. The two countries have launched a joint police effort and Romania will despatch a task force of 15 officers to work with Italian police this month.

Read the full article