Sunday, August 31, 2008
From the Financial Times:
By Sarah Murray
July 28, 2008
When discussing the social sector, Bill Drayton, founder and chief executive of Ashoka, a non-profit organisation that promotes social entrepreneurs, remembers the sector 25 years ago.
“Salaries were pathetic, smart people would avoid it, it was disorganised,” he says. “That’s all gone. We’ve been catching up and once you go from non-competitive to competitive, organisations have to join in the party or they’ll be eaten alive.”
As many non-profit organisations strive to make their operations more professional, a growing number of their employees are choosing to take an MBA.
“We are definitely seeing more of them in the part-time MBA programme,” says Liz Livingston Howard, associate director of the Centre for Non-profit Management at the Kellogg School of Management, at Northwestern University in the US. “There’s been a statistically significant increase in the past 10 years.”
In the past, executives seeking qualifications that would help them in the non-profit sector headed to policy schools or took programmes in education or non-profit management. “Now a lot more people are going the MBA route,” says Mel Ochoa, who graduated from the NYU Stern MBA programme in May and heads the marketing department of Achievement First, a charter school organisation in Connecticut and Brooklyn.
Mr Ochoa says this is because of the new requirements of non-profit organisations. “They’re changing their attitude towards the people they want on staff,” he says. “They want a lot of the skills you learn in business school, such as strategy and finance – and they want those applied to their non-profits.”
Lara Galinsky head of strategy at Echoing Green, a US foundation that provides seed money and support to young social entrepreneurs, agrees. “An MBA is a coveted staff person,” she says. “In the non-profit field, we’re good generalists or we come with degrees in public policy or non-profit sector management – but we’re not steeped in traditional business skills. A business school student trained in a traditional curriculum is value added for us.”
Part of the reason more non-profit organisations value business school education lies in the changing nature of the donors that fund their activities. Many of the new generation of philanthropists made their money in business, rather than inheriting it, and look for the same rigorous standards of professionalism and accountability in the charities they fund.
“When you get people with that kind of business savvy, they don’t want to just write a cheque, but they want to change the nature of public education or global health,” says Nora Silver, director and adjunct professor at the Centre for Non-profit and Public Leadership at the Haas School of Business, in Berkeley, California. “Then the philanthropy looks very different.”
Read the full article
Saturday, August 30, 2008
From the Huffington Post:
By Sonia Ossorio
March 25, 2008
Whether it's a $30 sex act in a brothel in Flushing, Queens that markets to dishwashers and day laborers, or a $4,000 sex act sold through a glossy website, the demand by men for commercial sex in the United States today is overwhelming. It's time to take a hard look at the culture and laws in our society that make it so easy for television commentators to say it is a "victimless crime." I've been to Roosevelt Avenue in Queens where men on corners in this prostitution district get paid to hand out fliers covered in naked women's bodies. They'll guide you to the brothels that line the side streets filled with trafficked women from Central and South America. Men pay $30 for 15 minutes of sex.
Our image of the jet-set call girl is an illusion. Rare news about the workings of the upper-end of the prostitution industry is now before us and the undeniable truth is they aren't the empowered women characterized in movies, music and the American psyche. Behind the polished pictures and polite language of the now-shuttered Emperor's Club VIP is the woman Governor Eliot Spitzer summoned to Washington D. C. for paid sex: a 22-year-old from a broken home, who's abused drugs, been abused and wasn't sure how she was going to pay the next month's rent.
There's a clear link between the proliferation of prostitution and a flourishing sex-trafficking industry. Our country and the State of New York have made great strides in passing laws that are aimed at stemming the tide of prostitution and trafficking. In 2000, the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed and gave the Justice Department further tools to fight the proliferation of organized prostitution. Led by Governor Spitzer himself, New York State passed a tough anti-trafficking law in 2007 which gives local prosecutors the new crime of trafficking to indict traffickers and pimps.
But we still have a long way to go. The bill, while important, lacks the funding or the teeth to enact real change. (As I wrote in the Albany Times-Union today, New York state is currently allocating only $450,000 in this year's budget to combat sex trafficking. It takes more money than that to clear snow from New York City streets for one day.)
All the while, the prostitution industry has boomed. JFK Airport is one of the main hubs used by traffickers, according to the Justice Department. Flip past the electronics category of the Yellow Pages and you'll find dozens of pages of escort service listings. Manhattan's Verizon Yellow Pages has startling images of girls that appear to be as young as 10 years old. And it's clear that these are big operations: it costs $45,000 upfront for a full-page ad in the escort category.
We will never make progress until we address demand, until johns face stiffer penalties and public shame instead of a free pass and bragging rights.
Read the full article
Friday, August 29, 2008
On September 23, 2008 CATW will hold a 2nd picket line in front of the corporate offices of HBO located at 1100 6th Avenue at 42nd St. to protest their 'reality series' Cathouse set in a brothel. CATW will address HBO's ongoing glamorization of prostitution by erasing its harms. HBO continues to distinguish itself as the industry leader in aggressively promoting the acceptance of prostitution which fuels sex trafficking.
When: September 23, 2008
Where: HBO Corporate offices
1100 Sixth Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, New York, NY
The Legacy of Slavery: Unequal Exchange conference resulted from the passage of Senate Bills 2199 and 1737 in 2000 and was meant to address a number of issues related to the economic and political legacy of slavery, the roles of governments and businesses in this enterprise, and the question of reparations for the descendants of slaves.
From Market Watch:
Aug 27, 2008
LOS ANGELES- Cohen Milstein, representing victims of human trafficking and their survivors, filed suit today in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against a prominent U.S. military contractor, Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. ("KBR"), and its Jordanian subcontractor, Daoud & Partners ("Daoud"). During the relevant time period, KBR was the largest military contractor for the United States in Iraq.
According to the lawsuit, the trafficking victims include 13 Nepali men who were taken to Iraq against their will to provide menial labor at a United States military facility.
The men, ages 18-27, were recruited in Nepal to work as kitchen staff in hotels and restaurants in Amman, Jordan. Their families went deep into debt to arrange the jobs, which they hoped would lift them out of poverty. Once they arrived in Jordan, however, they were not provided the expected employment. Instead, their passports were seized, they were held against their will, and they were told that they were being sent to work at a military facility in Iraq, the United States Al Asad Airbase.
The men allege that the illicit trafficking scheme--from their recruitment in Nepal to their eventual employment in Iraq--was engineered by KBR and its subcontractor Daoud.
Tragically, as the men were being transported to Iraq, a car containing twelve of the men was stopped by members of the Ansar al-Sunna Army, an insurgent group. The 12 men in the car were taken hostage and executed by the insurgents. The executions were filmed and posted on the Internet.
The Inspector General for the United States Department of Defense investigated and confirmed the facts related to the fate of the 12 men, which led to increased enforcement of anti-trafficking measures by the United States.
The 13th trafficking victim, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was not kidnapped with the others and arrived at the U.S. military facility in August 2004. He was assigned to work as a loader/unloader in a warehouse, supervised by KBR.
For 15 months, Mr. Gurung was held in Iraq against his will, before KBR and Daoud allowed him to return home to Nepal. Mr. Gurung has joined with the family members of the 12 deceased victims to file claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the Alien Tort Claims Act.
They are represented by Agnieszka Fryszman, Matthew Handley, and Molly McOwen of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll P.L.L.C. (Washington, D.C.) Cohen Milstein's International Human Rights practice group has earned a stellar reputation for its work representing victims of forced and slave labor and other violations of international law.
A copy of the human trafficking complaint is available on the firm's website, www.cmht.com, as are copies of relevant Department of Defense documents. Ms. Fryszman and Mr. Handley are available for comment.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
LAUREL, Miss. - Federal officials say nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants were detained in a raid on a manufacturing plant in southern Mississippi, making it the largest such sweep in the country.
A spokeswoman says more than 100 of those caught up in Monday's raid on Howard Industries were released based on humanitarian concerns, mostly because they have children.
Most of the rest were transferred to a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Jena, La. Nine 17-year-olds were transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The Mississippi raid was one of a series of recent high-profile crackdowns on illegal immigrants. In May, officials swept into the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa and detained 400 workers.
From the Inquirer:
By Maila Ager
August 25, 2008
MANILA, Philippines -- A congressional inquiry into the worsening cases of Filipino trafficking in Singapore has been sought by a lawmaker at the House of Representatives. ARC Partylist Representative Narciso Santiago III said Congress should look into reports that Filipino trafficking in Singapore has reached an all-time high last year because of budget air fares, which aggravated the situation.
From 125 cases of human trafficking in 2006, the number went up by 70 percent or 212 cases in 2007, Santiago said, citing an alleged report by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Fule Anota.
He said the Philippine embassy in Singapore blamed this to the network of illegal recruiters and "quite possibly, syndicates across borders, which manage to persuade their recruits through various modes of deception and intimidation."
"Filipino victims are pushed to try their luck in Singapore not only because of poverty but also because of the promise of a lucrative job overseas," he said.
"The report states that the existence of a large number of bars/pubs in Singapore's red light districts fuels the demand for Filipino women," he pointed out. Based on records, Santiago said, the modus operandi essentially has illegal recruiters promising young women non-existent jobs as waitresses or guest relations officers in restaurants and hotels in Singapore.
"They are each charged a minimum of $100 as recruitment fee in the Philippines and given roundtrip tickets where the return ticket is oftentimes fake, a fake invitation letter, and "show money" for presentation to Philippine immigration officials who scrutinize their financial capacity as tourists," he said.
Read the full article
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
From the Inquirer:
MANILA, Philippines—A non-government organization advocating migrant workers' welfare urged the government on Thursday to forge an anti-human trafficking agreement with Malaysia following the rescue of Filipino women forced to become prostitutes in the Malaysian state of Sabah.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center quoted recent media reports from Malaysia relating how the eight Filipino women, allegedly recruited from Zamboanga about three months ago to work as waitresses, were forced to work as prostitutes upon their arrival in arrival in Sabah.
Acting on an informant’s tip, the police raided an apartment in Penampang, a small town adjacent to the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, where the women, aged between 18 and 25, were kept.
“The illegal recruitment and trafficking of Filipino women to Malaysia is fast becoming a thriving enterprise and we call on the Malaysian and Philippine governments to forge a bilateral pact against human trafficking,” the center's president Susan Ople said in a statement.
Ople said that based on the information gathered by the Center, previous victims of human trafficking were promised decent jobs in either Kuala Lumpur or Sabah by their recruiters who turned out to be receiving P3,000 per head from a syndicate in Malaysia.
“With mere P3,000, the recruiter turns a blind eye on whatever fate awaits the recruit bound for Malaysia,” she said.
The former labor undersecretary said local governments must also work together with other NGOs and relevant government agencies in a grassroots public information drive against human trafficking.
“The recruitment is now done door-to-door in both urban and rural areas and the only way to stop this is through active public vigilance leading to higher arrest and conviction rates,” she added.
Read the full article
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Three owners and operators of Asian massage parlors in Johnson County pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Kansas City to engaging in human trafficking by coercing their employees to engage in prostitution.
In a release, John Wood, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said Ling Xu, also known as “Cherry,” 46; Zhong Yan Liu, also known as “Lucky,” 36; and Cheng Tang, also known as “Tom,” 22, all citizens of China living in Overland Park, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before Judge Fernando Gaitan. Each defendant pleaded guilty to coercing people to travel across state lines and national borders to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual services. They also pleaded guilty to money laundering by wiring more than $500,000 from the proceeds of that unlawful activity to China.
Ling also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for using the passports and identification of her female workers to make most of the wire transfers. All three defendants remain in federal custody.
“Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery that reaches from the other side of the globe to the suburban Midwest,” Wood said in the release. “Chinese women were recruited to travel to Kansas City, then coerced to work as prostitutes at massage parlors. These businesses have been shut down and the owners brought to justice. We have also provided social services to assist their victims.”
Ling and Zhong are married to other people with whom they have limited contact, Wood said, and were living together with Ling’s son, Tang. Ling, Zhong and Cheng were involved in operating China Rose Massage and China Villa Massage/Lin Dynasty in Overland Park and, when the charges were filed, were preparing to open Victoria Square in Overland Park. They also operated a nearby residence used for prostitution.
Co-defendant Hongmei Madole, also known as Hongmei Zhou, 32, of Olathe, pleaded guilty April 24 to coercing people to travel across state lines and national borders to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual services. Hongmei was the owner of Asian Touch Massage in Olathe.
Ling, Zhong and Cheng used businesses such as 888 Market and Ho’s Oriental Market to wire at least $452,500 in proceeds from the prostitution businesses to several locations in China. Ling wired at least $343,600 from 2005 to 2006. Of this amount, Ling wired $318,600 by illegally taking and using her female workers’ passports and identification.
Zhong wired at least $74,500, and Cheng wired at least $34,400.
As part of their guilty plea, the three also agreed to forfeit to the government $452,500, which represented the proceeds of the unlawful activity, as well as $60,497 that the FBI seized during the execution of federal search warrants at the defendants’ residences and businesses.
The three each are subject to a sentence of as much as 40 years in federal prison without parole. Ling is also subject to an additional mandatory term of two years in federal prison without parole for aggravated identity theft, which must be served consecutively to her sentence on the other offenses. Hongmei could be subject to a sentence of as much as 20 years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the U.S Probation Office.
Monday, August 25, 2008
From the Inquirer:
By Juan Mercado
August 21, 2008
“A small number of women are occasionally trafficked from China, South Korea and Russia to the Philippines,” the report notes. “Sex tourists came from Northeast Asia, Europe and North America (seeking) minors.” But overall, the Philippines remains a “country of origin.”
Every day about 3,000-plus Filipinos migrate.
And some find themselves trapped in brothels. Many slave under forced labor conditions.
A two-stage “railroad” operates here. From indigent communities in the Visayas and Mindanao, women and children are funneled into Cebu, Manila and other cities. Some end up in whorehouses. Others become abused workers in homes or factories.
The second stage kicks in when Filipinas are peddled abroad as sex workers. They are shipped “primarily to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and countries in the Middle East and Western Europe.”
“Traffickers used land and sea transportation to transfer victims from island provinces to major cities,” the report found. “A growing trend is the use of budget airline carriers to transport victims out of the country. Traffickers used fake travel documents, falsified permits and altered birth certificates.” Traffickers often confiscate passports, identity cards and airline tickets to control a victim. Without these documents, migrants are vulnerable to deportation. “This is legal coercion.”
US federal law now makes it illegal to seize documents to force others to work, the report notes. “Foreign governments are encouraged to criminalize withholding of travel documents.” People-trafficking and people-smuggling often overlap, says the analysis “Drawing Lines In A Dark Place.” This is “an uncomfortable but almost unavoidable part of social reality in areas that adjoin rich countries with a demand for labor.”
Burmese and Cambodians have been hoodwinked by promises of high pay on fishing boats in Thailand and the Andaman Sea. They ended up abused slaves. The bodies of some victims were “dumped as common refuse,” the US report says. “Few environments are more conducive to exploitation than the high seas.”
“A significant number of Filipinos work under conditions of involuntary servitude.” Cases cropped up in Bahrain, Canada, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Palau, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Trafficking through brokered marriages has surged. Brides from Vietnam, Cambodia or Mongolia are picked “through the Internet in the comfort of home,” the report adds. Some Indonesians were prostituted by fake “Taiwanese husbands.” Over 20,000 Vietnamese women married in Taiwan through marriage brokers. International marriages in South Korea now crest at 43,121. “An international marriage market is booming,” studies by Minda Valencia, Myra Ramos and Nimfa Ogena revealed. In 2006, there were 24,905 marriages to foreigners registered, up from 21,100 the previous year. “[Many] Filipina brides head for Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.”
Read the full article
From the Examiner:
DENVER, Colorado - Advocates for people forced into prostitution are trying to prevent a surge in human trafficking during the Democratic National Convention.
On Saturday, volunteers fanned out across Denver to put up posters at hotels and other businesses that offer help to sex workers brought here against their will. One poster tells people of their rights in English and in Russian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Amanda Finger, director of the Colorado branch of the Washington-based Polaris Project, said experience at large events like the Super Bowl shows there's usually an increase in prostitution, including a spike in sex services offerings online. Some of those offers involve US and foreign citizens forced or coerced to work in prostitution.
Read the full article
Sunday, August 24, 2008
From the BBC:
August 19, 2008
A modern-day slave trade is in operation across Scotland, new research has suggested.
Human rights charity Amnesty International said Scotland had 13.5% of the UK's trade in people.
This was despite Scotland having less than 10% of the population.
Amnesty said it used figures from police, councils, voluntary groups and other services to present the most comprehensive picture to date of the problem of human trafficking.
The report, Human Trafficking - Scotland's 21st Century Slaves, said Scottish police raided more than 50 premises, resulting in 35 arrests and 59 people being dealt with as victims of trafficking during its specialist Operation Pentameter 2.
Trafficking cases have been found in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Stirling and Tayside. They involved victims from Lithuania, Slovakia, Nigeria, China, Estonia, Somalia, Thailand, Guinea and Russia.
Amnesty International UK director, Kate Allen, said: "To date, most attention has been given to the plight of women trafficked into the sex trade, but we have also found evidence of trafficking into Scotland for domestic and agricultural labour.
"The case information we have been given also shows there are different methods of trafficking and different routes into Scotland.
"We have come across an example of marriage being used as a mechanism of trafficking women into Scotland for sexual exploitation. And we have seen cases of trafficked persons being recovered at the port of Stranraer."
Read the full article
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury on Thursday said that human trafficking had become an alarming migration issue, with the perpetrators easily luring jobless people into being bought and sold.
"In a country where unemployment is pervasive and opportunities are limited, illegal human traffickers do not have to try too hard to mislead the millions of job seekers," the foreign adviser said.
"But we must make trafficking immensely costly for traffickers."
Inaugurating a workshop on Migration and Human Trafficking, at Hotel Sonargaon, Iftekhar urged public servants to expand legal migration opportunities to prevent illegal migration and trafficking of people.
"Although human trafficking is a relatively new issue of migration, it is becoming more and more a concern for both the government and non-government organisations working in the field," he said, at the workshop organised jointly by the Foreign Service Academy and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Dhaka.
Executive editor of the Daily Sangbad, Manzurul Ahasan Bulbul, also speaking at the workshop stressed effective government-media collaboration to combat illegal migration and human trafficking.
Human rights lawyer barrister Sara Hossain expressed the need to consider using international migrant rights and human rights instruments to protect the rights of migrant workers.
By Ana Ley
August 21, 2008
HOUSTON — Five people linked to an immigrant smuggling operation run by the infamous Ortiz family pleaded guilty to trafficking charges on Thursday, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle said in a news release that Porfirio Ortiz, 37, Calixtro Ortiz, 52, Bernardino Ortiz, 49, and Sandra Ortiz, 32, all relatives living in Bryan; and Christopher Gene Torres, 24, of Kingsland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants for commercial advantage or private financial gain.
Lawyers for Porfirio Ortiz, Calixtro Ortiz and Sandra Ortiz did not respond to messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday. Bernardino Ortiz's lawyer declined to comment.
Torres' lawyer said his client is not as involved with the operation because he is only facing punishment for the transportation of two illegals in separate cases in 2004.
"My client is probably not looking at much time," said attorney Francisco Javier Montemayor, adding that Torres would probably serve a year or less under a plea bargain. "We're happy with the way things turned out."
The smugglers can each serve as many as 10 years in jail, face a maximum $250,000 fine and a term of supervised release of up to three years. Sentencing is set for Nov. 20.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement began investigating the group in January 2005 when Border Patrol agents found a group of illegal immigrants hiding behind a pile of hay inside a horse trailer as they crossed a checkpoint en route to Hebbronville.
The driver, 28-year-old Tyler Ross Severn, told agents Porfirio Ortiz hired him to drive the truck and trailer to Rio Grande City and loaded the five immigrants into the trailer. The immigrants were to pay Porfirio Ortiz $2,500 each, of which Severn was to receive $300 per person.
Severn told authorities he had made numerous trips transporting illegal immigrants for the Ortiz family. Calixtro Ortiz served as a guide for the immigrants and would deliver immigrants to Severn at a house in Rio Grande City, DeGabrielle said. Severn would then transport the immigrants to Bryan, where Porfirio or Bernardino Ortiz would pay him.
Read the full article
Thursday, August 21, 2008
By Nancy C. Carvajal
August 21, 2008
MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-three women, including a minor, believed to be victims of human trafficking were rescued by the police from a five-story building in Valenzuela City on Tuesday.
Valenzuela police chief, Senior Supt. Ranier Idio, told Inquirer that the women were promised jobs abroad by Andy and Thelma Que, owners of Philquest Agency.
The victims, who had been recruited from various provinces in Visayas and Mindanao, were temporarily staying in the building while waiting for their applications to be processed.
Idio said at least 300 women were staying in the building, all of them waiting for their chance to go abroad.
The victims, however, were not allowed out of the building as they had been unable to pay the fees demanded by the couple. One of the victims even alleged that Andy Que had molested her several times.
The couple was later charged with qualified trafficking in persons and large-scale illegal recruitment. They, however, denied all the charges against them.
“They were promised jobs abroad. But they claimed some of them had been staying in the building for more than a year and worked as housemaids for the couple who recruited them from the province without being paid,” Idio said.
He added that it took two hours before the team composed of operatives from the Central Investigation Detection Group and the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Task Force of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and local police were allowed to go inside the building.
The operation stemmed from a complaint filed by Nora Salik, one of the victims recruited by the Ques, who was able to escape from the building.
According to Salik, she had changed her mind about working overseas and told the couple that she just wanted to go back home to Maguindanao province. The Ques, however, allegedly refused to let her go unless she paid them P10,000 for letting her stay in the “dormitory.”
From the Bangkok Post:
By Apinya Wipatayotin
August 21, 2008
Beggars believe a bill licensing their activity will improve their standard of living, but activists warn the proposed law does not solve the root of their problems.
Sitthina Kaewkammi, a 46-year-old blind female beggar from Kalasin province, said that the idea of beggar registration under the act was good if it could help her improve her quality of life. ''No one wants to be a beggar if he or she has a better choice,'' she said. ''If registration improves things for me, I will accept it.'' She wanted to run her own lottery shop, but that was not possible as she has no capital to invest.
A 29 year-old disabled man who called himself Tee and is a beggar at Soi Ari said he was willing to cooperate if the legislation is passed. He said he earned about 300 baht a day from begging.
Under the bill, approved by cabinet on Tuesday, local authorities would issue a beggar's licence if the beggar can prove he is underprivileged, disabled, homeless or elderly without care. However, the licensed beggar will be confined to a particular ''working place''.
For example, a beggar registered in Phetchaburi would be allowed to work in that province only, not other places such as Bangkok.
Eakarak Loomchomkhae, chief of the anti-human trafficking programme of the Mirror Foundation, said the bill was designed based on the belief that begging is the main cause of human trafficking. ''In fact, many beggars do their job without involvement in illegal activity. But their opportunities would be limited by such a bill.''
Many children, and disabled and elderly had been forced to beg despite enactment of a law on human trafficking prevention and suppression since June.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Ahmed Tidiane Souare
Human Rights Watch called on Guinea's Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare to put the country's "chronic human rights problems at the top of his agenda", in a statement released Friday."
The government's continuing inaction in the face of gross human rights abuses really hurts ordinary Guineans," said Dustin Sharp a researcher with the movement.
"If prime minister Souare is to break with the past, he needs to insist that security forces responsible for murder, rape and torture are brought to justice," he added.
The security forces have been an important pillar for the regime of President Lansana Conte, 74, who has ruled the West African nation since 1984.
Human Rights Watch said it had written to Soaure on August 7 calling on him to "exercise bold leadership."
It urged him to tackle Guinea's most acute human rights problems, which it listed as: impunity for unlawful killings, torture, prison conditions, child labor and child trafficking.
Guinea had been rocked by civil unrest in the last few years which "has typically been met with brutal and excessive use of force by government security forces," said the group.
Souare was appointed prime minister on May 20, having previously served as mines, and then education minister.
From Market Watch:
August 15, 2008
An Alaska man was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking of minors and adults, as well as drug trafficking offenses, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Nelson P. Cohen of the District of Alaska announced.
Don Arthur Webster Jr., 51, also known as "Jerry Starr," was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland. In addition to his prison sentence, Webster was ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release following his release from prison.
Webster was convicted on Feb. 5, 2008, of 28 counts in the first sex trafficking trial in the District of Alaska. After 11 days of testimony, the jury found Webster guilty on two counts of sex trafficking of a minor; nine counts of sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud or coercion; two counts of distributing crack cocaine to a pregnant woman; four counts of distributing crack cocaine to individuals under the age of 21; and eight counts of distributing crack cocaine. Webster was also convicted of one count of maintaining a premises for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing crack cocaine, and one count of manufacturing crack cocaine.
"This defendant preyed on the most vulnerable among us to make a fast buck. Using fear, violence and intimidation, he forced women and children into the tragic world of prostitution and drugs," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich. "The prison sentence handed down today denies Webster the freedom he denied his victims, and those who commit similar crimes should expect to be prosecuted."
"Evil takes many forms. Don Webster, a/k/a Jerry Starr, embodies several of them," said U.S. Attorney Nelson P. Cohen. "He is a drug pusher - who used both cocaine and crack to enslave his victims. He is a disgusting bully who manipulated women and children. He is a physical abuser who forced his will upon weaker people with threats of burning them with boiling water; confining them to a closet; beating and raping them; and even choking a woman to the point of unconsciousness in the presence of two other women and a child. He is a thief who stole their dignity and hope. He is a violent predator who deserves the sentence imposed today. There are people in our world who need to be locked up and put away for a long time. Jerry Starr is one of them."
The case against Webster revealed that he operated sham escort businesses that were fronts for prostitution in the Anchorage area of Alaska. The evidence presented at trial established that Webster would target children and women who were homeless, in low-paying jobs or runaways, and invite them to work for his purported "escort services" - Foxy Roxies, Sunshine Girls, American Beauties, Kotton Kandy, Tiffani's, Tickle Your Fancy and Lickety Split - businesses where an individual would supposedly pay for another person's "time and company."
Read the full article
Saturday, August 16, 2008
By Gabi Khumalo
August 15, 2008
Legislation is being formulated that will allow for the prosecution of all forms of human trafficking.
"The draft Bill (the Trafficking in Persons Bill) allows for all forms of human trafficking to be prosecuted including labour exploitation and not only sexual exploitation," said National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA's) Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit, National Co-ordinator, Malebo Kotu-Rammopo.
She said that in the absence of specific legislation criminalising the offence, the NPA has encountered unique problems in ensuring an adequate response to the occurrences of this phenomenon.
"Prosecutions have proceeded on an ad hoc basis overtly demonstrable to the facts such as kidnapping, indecent assault and rape, which do not individually attract as heavy sentences as a specific trafficking in persons would impose," Ms Malebo Kotu-Rammopo said.
The absence of legislation also limits prosecutors to deal with only the perpetrator directly linked to the offences, while excluding the perpetrators behind the scenes, which is often an organised crime activity.
Giving an update on the country's strategy to counter human trafficking, Ms Kotu-Rammopo said last year the country had signed and ratified the United Nations Convention Against Translational Organised Crime and the Parlemo Protocol.
The protocol aims to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking, especially among women and children.It also obliges member states to criminalise trafficking in persons, investigate and prosecute traffickers as well as undertake border control measures.
The SOCA, together with Government and civil society, has also established an Inter-sectoral Task Team to develop a programme to co-ordinate a comprehensive strategy to counter human trafficking.
The strategy, which started after the government received the protocol in 2007, would lead to the adoption of a National Action Plan as required by the Palermo Protocol.
Read the full article
By Anthony M. Destefano
August 16, 2008
NEW YORK- The sex trafficking conviction of a North Woodmere man who was dubbed a "god" in the world of sadomasochism was tossed out by a federal appeals court, paving the way for a new trial about his kinky relationship with an old girlfriend.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Thursday that Glenn Marcus was improperly convicted after a trial last year in federal court in Brooklyn because some of the conduct involved in the case took place before the 2000 enactment of the human trafficking law used to prosecute him.
Marcus was sentenced to 9 years in prison by Judge Allyne Ross last September. A three-judge panel said that the conviction of Marcus, 55, violated the constitutional rule against convicting someone for conduct that wasn't a crime before a law took effect.
During the trial, a girlfriend of Marcus identified only as "Jodi" recounted how she met him online in 1998 in a chat room for bondage and submissive relationships. Jodi said she eventually moved to an apartment in Maryland, where she lived with another female "slave" of Marcus.
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Friday, August 15, 2008
From the Economist:
Coercing hapless human beings into sex or servitude is obviously evil, but defining the problem (let alone solving it) is very hard
LIVING from the forced labour, or unwillingly provided sexual services, of vulnerable people is a horrific business, and more should be done to punish the perpetrators and succour the victims. That is a sentiment to which almost all governments readily assent, even in the (quite large) slice of the world where links exist between officialdom, the police and the shady types who trade in flesh.
And at least in principle, cross-border trafficking is acknowledged to be so manifestly dreadful that every civilised state must be seen to help correct this wrong. As one sign of this feeling, a Council of Europe convention on trafficking went into force this year; 17 countries have ratified it.
The American government has for the past eight years been mandated by law to wage a many-fronted struggle against human trafficking, at home and around the world. And some hard arguments are now raging in Washington, involving politicians, lobby groups and rival government agencies, about whether the struggle should be escalated.
Why, one might ask, should there be arguments about an issue that, in moral terms, seems so clear-cut? Mainly because the precise definition of trafficking, and hence of trafficking victims, is in reality quite difficult—whether you are a policeman or a moral philosopher.
Among pundits, people-trafficking is distinguished from the lesser evil of people-smuggling—an uncomfortable but almost unavoidable part of social reality in areas that adjoin rich countries with a demand for labour. In Kosovo, it is an open secret that you can be whisked illegally to Vienna by paying €4,000 ($6,000) to a professional smuggler. The Bosnian town of Bijeljina, once a black spot for ethnic cleansing, is now a way-station for south Asians who pay around $16,000 per head to be smuggled into the EU heartland: half on departure and half on arrival.
People-smuggling is done with the consent of those involved; they have no further debt to the gangsters who abet them once they arrive. Trafficking means moving people under duress or false pretences—or in order to use them for forced labour (ranging from domestic work to commercial sex). So the theory goes; but in practice, as the latest State Department report concedes, there is an overlap between the two activities. It often happens, for example, that a poor Indian is hired for menial work in a Gulf state—only to find that his wage is much less than promised, and his passport is seized. This leads to a form of servitude, and that person’s treatment could be called trafficking.
Despite the grey area, public perception of the two problems often diverges. In Australia, for example, public opinion favours a tough line over people-smuggling—but there has been a surge of sympathy for the victims of trafficking (often brought to Australia from Thailand or Indochina) since the release last year of “The Jammed”, a film set in a Melbourne brothel.
And in recent years both the sharper definition of, and the fight against, human-trafficking have become a high priority for the State Department; its grading of other countries’ anti-trafficking efforts is an elaborate and closely-watched business. Countries in “tier 1” (including most of the EU but not Ireland, Greece, Estonia or Latvia) are deemed to comply fully with the minimum standards of American law. Those in “tier 2” don’t yet comply but are trying hard. A lower tier, labelled “Watch List”, consists of countries that are trying, but not hard enough or with good enough results. In the bottom “tier 3” (including American allies like Saudi Arabia) are those that are neither complying nor trying hard enough. Even rickety post-Soviet states (see chart) can improve their scores if they follow what is deemed to be the right advice.
As the State Department has found, it is hard to discuss cross-border trafficking without looking at what occurs inside countries. Its reports have thus broadened into a more general look at the ways in which people are forced to work or have sex against their will. Servitude, it finds, can take many forms: for example, children are mutilated and forced to beg—or else fight in ghastly wars. Slavery, the State Department suggests, happens in many successful emerging economies; it cites bonded labour in Brazil’s plantations, or children working long hours making bricks in China. Indeed, bits of the department’s 2008 report read as though they were penned by a left-of-centre NGO, decrying the dark side of globalisation.
And some of the other ideological issues now coming to a head in Washington are even more contentious. Behind them all is an emotive question: whether there can be such a thing as willing prostitution.
How far can you go?
Since 2002, the policy of the United States has been to oppose prostitution, and to urge all governments to “reduce the demand” for prostitutes through education and by punishing those who patronise them. But how far can this principle be pressed? As passed by the House of Representatives last year, a new bill on protecting the victims of trafficking could have made it illegal for Americans to consort with prostitutes anywhere in the world (even when the prostitutes are adults, and in countries where buying sex is legal). The House version of the bill would also broaden the obligations of America’s federal (as opposed to state) authorities to curb the trafficking of sex workers inside the country. The Justice Department (amid many other objections) said all this would place a huge burden on federal agencies that are already overstretched.
Supporters of stepping up the fight (who range from feminist groups to the religious right) compare their campaign to that of William Wilberforce, whose efforts to free the British empire’s slaves bore fruit 200 years ago. John Miller, an ex-head of the State Department’s anti-trafficking programme, has deplored the Justice Department’s campaign to modify the proposed legislation; its complaints, he says, imply leniency towards an absolute evil, slavery. But the American Civil Liberties Union, a lobby group, has praised the Senate for deleting language which, in its view, would make prostitution and trafficking virtually identical. Lots more arguments can be expected before the bill reaches the White House.
In fact, says Jorgen Carling, a Norwegian who has studied the trafficking of Nigerian women to Europe, it is rarely possible to draw the absolutely clear line that policymakers want between “innocent victimhood” and “willing participation” in sex work. For example, people may know that they are being taken abroad as sex workers, but have no idea of the harsh conditions, and the absolute loss of control over their lives, that they will face. This may be an area of life where most people can recognise evil when they see the details of one horrifying case—but where it will always be hard to make hard-and-fast rules that suit every country
Thursday, August 14, 2008
From GMA News:
August 11, 2008
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is among the top five countries in the world where most human trafficking victims come from, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Monday.
In the Weekly Kapihan ng Bayan forum in Sulo Hotel, lawyer Ferdinand Lavin, chief of NBI’s anti-human trafficking division, said there are more than 15 million human trafficking victims worldwide and the country has a “good share” of the number.
He said 80 percent of human trafficking victims in the country are females below 18 years old, and that they are usually brought to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and even Cyprus.
“They are usually forced by syndicates to work as househelp, entertainers and even sex workers particularly in the South East Asian region,” Lavin said.
Lavin admitted that tracing human trafficking victims is a difficult task because most of them are “willing victims” and will only seek the help of the government when they experience abuse from employers.
He also said they are having difficulty in tracking down human traffickers especially in Mindanao.
“We can prevent those (individuals) that will use our air and sea ports, but there are also those who use the so-called southern backdoor,” he said.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008
By Eric Johnson
August 11, 2008
WASHINGTON - History teachers tell students that slavery ended in the U.S. in 1865, but sources tell WTOP that a "hidden epidemic" of child sex-slavery persists in this area and nationwide.
"There are a whole host of sex traffickers who specifically prey on children," says Bradley Myles, director of the Polaris Project, a non-governmental organization that fights human trafficking.
"They seek out children who may have any sort of vulnerability -- vulnerability from sexual abuse as a child, vulnerability from homelessness, vulnerability from all different hosts of issues."
Myles says recruiters often try to gain the target's trust, setting themselves up as friends or boyfriends. Sometimes, children who have already been ensnared by the traffickers are forced to convince the targeted youth that they can trust their pimp. But Jeff Taylor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, says other times, kids are simply kidnapped.
"We have a case involving defendant Jovon Johnson, who was just sentenced in June of this year, in Superior Court, to 45 1/2 years in prison for sexual assault and sex-trafficking-type offenses," Taylor says.
"This fellow would drive around the District, see teenage girls on the street, entice them into his car, force them to disrobe and perform sex acts, hold them captive and then force them into acts of prostitution."
Myles notes that the pimps have learned to go after children in or around places that are hard for kids to avoid.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Russian pop star Valeriya says she is drawing on her experience as a battered wife and "slave" to help migrant workers break free of sexual exploitation and forced labor in her homeland.
Valeriya was formally named on Tuesday as goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency she has teamed up with for the past year to combat human trafficking.
"I meet and talk to these people, I am not a professional psychologist but I am sure I can help people with my own experience as an ex-victim of slavery. I suffered a lot of domestic violence," the blonde 40-year-old told a news briefing.
"I was forced to work for a man, my (former) husband, who treated me like a slave. So I feel I know the subject maybe even more than many others and am ready to help people with all my heart," she said.
Valeriya -- who only goes by her first name -- has sold 100 million CDs. She is entering the British music market, where she has been dubbed the Russian Madonna, with an English version of her album "Out of Control".
Her anti-trafficking clips already appear on Russian television and she plans to dedicate some of her concerts around Europe next year to raising public awareness of the problem.
"This evil exists... it is among us," she said.
"Sometimes we artists, actors and musicians are able to bring more public attention to a problem than officials or politicians. We speak the language of emotions and feelings."
Russia has become an attractive destination for millions of migrants from neighboring countries looking for better opportunities, according to the IOM. The Geneva-based agency says that it has good cooperation with the Russian authorities.
Some 260 victims of trafficking have been assisted at an IOM rehabilitation centre which opened in 2006 in Moscow. Many are Russians, followed by migrants from Uzbekistan, Moldova and Ukraine.
"The one thing we can say with some certainty is it's the tip of the iceberg," said Richard Danziger, IOM's head of counter-trafficking activities worldwide.
Valeriya recalled her decision to leave her husband of 10 years, who was also her manager, and take her three children to live with her and her parents in their one-bedroom flat.
"He beat me up, cut me with knives and there was sexual exploitation as well -- all kinds of bad things. One day I was fed up and couldn't bear it any longer," she said.
"My main message when I was talking to these poor girls who suffered so badly because of their naivety, was 'Do not feel sorry for yourself. You have to act, you have to rebuild your life. Do not look back and beat yourself up because this is only destructive,'" she said.
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
By Gillian Gaynair
August 11, 2008
WASHINGTON - Some illegal immigrants arrested in workplace raids by federal agents will now have a resource to help them post bond and have a day in court.
The National Immigrant Bond Fund will launch a fundraising campaign and make its national debut during a news conference at Casa de Maryland in Silver Spring on Monday. The immigrant advocacy group helped workers seized in a recent federal raid in Annapolis access the bond fund, which was formalized about three months ago.
Here's how the fund works: Illegal immigrants arrested in raids who do not have any outstanding criminal violations can apply for financial assistance. Churches, legal organizations or groups such as Casa help facilitate their requests. The fund provides half the bail money and immigrants must pony up the rest.
"The chance of somebody in essence absconding is by and large eliminated because they have their money invested in their freedom as well," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum in Washington and a member of the fund's committee.
The fund aims to ensure that immigrants have access to the court system. Advocates say immigrants are too often sent directly into deportation proceedings without an opportunity to argue their case. They say the fund is also a way to build public opposition to raids, keep families together and bring another voice into the debate for immigration reform.
Financial oversight of the fund is handled by Public Interest Projects, a New York-based nonprofit.
The fund grew out of a series of efforts by 57-year-old Boston financier Bob Hildreth, owner of International Bank Services Inc., which buys and sells loans worldwide.
Hildreth said he gave $130,000 last year to help detainees post bond after a raid at a New Bedford, Mass., factory by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The detainees' families pitched in $100,000.
Hildreth contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars more this year after following workplace raids, including one on June 30 at Annapolis Painting Services company, where federal officials arrested 45 employees on administrative immigration violations.
The financier studied Spanish in Mexico as a college student, and over the decades he has contributed millions to establish education and citizenship programs for immigrants in Massachusetts, among other initiatives.
Through the bond fund, Hildreth said he wants to reach out to those who support humanitarian and immigration rights and who believe, like him, that immigrants have long contributed to America's economic health. "As long as these raids occur, we will respond," he said.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Focused on caring for victims of the sex slave trade and restoring their lives, Transitions Cambodia, Inc. (TCI) provides a safe environment where girls can heal and learn viable, sustainable 21st century job skills.
TCI empowers girls to become healthy and independent adults restoring dignity, health and, most importantly, hope in their lives.
Founded by James and Athena Pond, who have been actively working in Cambodia since 2004 TCI is an Oregon-based 501c3 Non-Profit Organization serving the needs of Cambodian and Vietnamese female survivors of sex trafficking.
The word transitions in Khmer “an-ta-rak-peap” means crossing over from one place to another. At TCI we believe that the imperative goal is not to remove a girl from one form of abuse, only to place her into a situation that will further her abuse or trauma.
While shelters provide necessary services to a small percentage of trafficking victims, they have a limited application. Research and experience has shown that young women coming from sexually exploitative situations greatly benefit from being involved in decision making regarding their futures. These women need to have a broader scope of expression in their living situations, community, and family environments. We work with our clients to help them discover themselves, explore their possibilities and begin the process of crossing from one place to a better place.
In the Beginning
The roots of TCI began to develop back in 1987. Founder James Pond was in the U.S. Marine Corps traveling around Asia as an intelligence specialist. On a particular operation, James and a friend were in an Asian country wanting to find a place to relax and have dinner. They found a local bar, where the owner welcomed them in from the street. After dinner, as they sat around talking, the bar owner approached them with a young girl under his arm. He asked if they wanted some company for the night. She could be theirs for the weekend – to do whatever we wanted.
James and his friend were taken aback at how young the girl appeared to be and asked her age. The bar owner told them that she was 15 – she looked frightened and intimidated by the owner. James and his friend asked how much it would cost to have her all weekend. The price? $7.00. They paid the bar fine and received a green, circular token. After they went outside they gave the girl $10.00 and told her to enjoy her weekend, sending her away to her family that lived in the next village. The look in this young girl’s eye haunts James to this day – as does, the green token he received in exchange for her freedom.
Making a Difference
In 2005 the Pond family along with another couple moved to Cambodia and co-founded and co-directed the Agape Restoration Center (ARC), which is a high-security, long-term aftercare facility for victims of sex trafficking. After the ARC facility was established, it was clear that a trend was emerging. Clients were no longer 8 years old and younger. In fact, the median age of girls, was 15 years old.
There was a critical issue at hand – girls were in need of more progressive services. They needed to acquire adult, independent living and job skills that would assist them in having healthy and productive lives outside of institutional care. They were not receiving this in the current programs. They realized that many organizations had initiated institutional care without any thought to the long-term implications. Athena’s greatest desire was to see girls developing outside of care and discovering their vocational and personal potential.
In October 2006, Athena and James piloted a transitional home model – called the Transitional Living Center (TLC) where older girls could live and do just that. The girls live in a family setting with a mentor and social worker. This allows them to transition into a low security environment and reintegrate into society with familiar oversight and social interaction. A model of care like this had not been used before and came with lots of challenges, but within a short time, they had an experienced staff, solid programs, and a center filled with wonderful clients.
The girls ranged in age from 16-22 years old and came from other centers and direct referrals from human rights organizations. The primary objective of TCI is to provide quality transitional housing for female survivors of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Clients participate in high quality 21st century vocational training, education and/or establish themselves in a job in Phnom Penh or the surrounding area. Providing a stable and semi-independent transitional home will encourage and facilitate these young women in becoming self-sufficient and prevent re-trafficking and re-entering the commercial sex industry as adults. TCI is a passion and life’s work for the Pond family and each client and staff member is a part of their own family.
Interview with TCI Founder James Pond
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in the fight against trafficking?
Understand the issue first before you jump in. The primary fields to be involved with are - Prevention (education, awareness, advocacy), Intervention (investigation, rescue planning, coordination of victim services - this one comes with a warning - don't go rescuing people unless you are a field professional who works with the legal system, law enforcement, or others! You do more damage by playing Rambo than you think), Rehabilitation (working directly with victims - medical, dental, therapy, life skills, love, etc.) and the hardest area Reintegration (this is getting girls back into society with their futures ahead of them). But, learn more first - intern, study, and get some experience.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
All of it...this is not glamorous work. It is heartbreaking work. But, the most challenging is really reintegrative strategies...finding girls the opportunities that they need and deserve can be the most frustrating.
How do you see TCI growing in the future?
Transitions is going to expand in Cambodia, providing transitional aftercare to survivors in three Cambodian cities (Siem Reap, Sihanoukville (or Koh Kong) and Svy Reing. We are also establishing the first human trafficking shelter in Portland Oregon, and we are also expanding our work by assisting other organizations in replicating our model of aftercare in Greece, Holland, Indonesia and beyond.
What is something that you have learned about trafficking since you got involved in the issue that completely surprised you?
The issues are not as cultural as I had once assumed. Children are trafficked around the world for the same reason - human greed. Money is universal. But, I think in terms of working with victims, it has been how complex this [issue] really is...even if a girl appears to be 'normal' in social settings, she is also sitting on a ticking time bomb of emotional trauma that needs to be addressed.
How can people help TCI?
Support a girl. I know it sounds simplistic and typical, but running an organization like this requires money. Giving girls viable futures is a fairly expensive venture. So, people can donate - anything - $5, $10, $50, $100 a month and make a tremendous impact. But, they can also tell people about the work being done - with family, friends, work, etc. and spread the word. Join the Facebook Cause for TCI. Hold a fund raiser - be creative! Intern - if you have skills and can give your time, we can find a place for you. For more ideas, give us a ring and tell us what you are thinking!
Visit the Transitions Cambodia, Inc. website
Join the TCI Facebook Cause
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Manila Times:
By Anthony A. Vargas
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will strengthen local and international efforts in curbing illegal recruitment and human trafficking in all forms, following the release of a report from a non-government organization indicating an increase in human trafficking activities in the Philippines.
Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, also chair of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Board, made this assurance as he bared that the government has consolidated all its resources and focal agencies into one Task Force to directly address the problem of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
Roque said through Executive Order (EO) 548-A issued recently by President Gloria Arroyo, the role of the POEA, an attached agency of the DOLE, was defined and strengthened by R.A 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
EO 548-A amended and superseded a previous EO and created a task force against illegal recruitment under the supervision of the Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO), that is also in charge of the Task Force Against Human Trafficking (TFHT) as provided for by EO 548-A.
”This [EO 548-A] shall enable the POEA in coordination with the regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employment to ensure greater focus in fighting illegal recruiters down to the local level,” he said.
Roque said that the executive order underscored the on-going campaign of POEA to involve local government units (LGUs) in the fight against illegal recruiters.
He said that the agency has forged agreements with LGUs in Metro Manila late last year, particularly with the city governments of Taguig, Valenzuela, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa and Quezon City.
The agreements, he said, called for the active participation of the concerned local government units LGUs in the surveillance and investigation of establishments and entities suspected of illegal recruitment acts in their respective jurisdiction.
The labor chief said that POEA is set to forge similar agreements with other LGUs in Metro Manila and other regions this year, in line with Executive Order No. 548-A and RA 8042.
As TFHT chair, the CFO shall recommend to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) policies, programs, and services aimed at eliminating trafficking in persons. The IACAT is the primary body tasked to coordinate, monitor and oversee the implementation of programs against trafficking in persons as provided for by RA No. 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
“We always believe that the best way to prevent or minimize illegal recruitment or human trafficking is for would be overseas workers to check and verify first with the authorities, particularly with POEA, any offer of overseas job by individuals or entities engaged in overseas employment before dealing with them,” Roque said.
The Labor secretary added that among the safety nets and measures established by the DOLE to mitigate if not totally eradicate or prevent illegal recruitment and human trafficking is the conduct of Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars, the establishment of Public Employment Service Offices in cities and municipalities nationwide to assist workers seeking local or overseas employment; and building linkages with various agencies of government charged with migration and travel.
Overseas, Roque said the 34 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of the DOLE established worldwide help trace, shelter, assist and repatriate victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking. Aside from DOLE’s initiatives, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has installed cellular phones signal jammers as added security measure and to strengthen measures against human trafficking and irregular facilitation and escort of passenger at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the country’s premiere international gateway.
BI Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said that 12 units of cellular phone signal jammers and dampers will be installed at the NAIA’s arrival and departure area of the premier airport. The cellphone jammers are only going to block signals near the immigration area. Some BI personnel allegedly used cell phones to communicate with persons involved in human trafficking and irregular facilitation and escort of passengers. Libanan said that he had endorsed the purchase and installation of said electronic equipment to strengthen the ban on immigration personnel from using cell phones while still on duty at the NAIA. “Apparently, there were still other immigration officers disregarding the rule,” Libanan said in a statement issued on Monday.
The Immigration commissioner said that there’s a need to strictly implement the cell phone ban at the NAIA to strengthen the bureau’s drive against human trafficking and it also prevents corruption. The installation of cell phone jammers and dampers were proposed by NAIA-BI Operations chief, Ferdinand Sampol who said that cell phone use by immigration personnel leaves a bad impression to the public. ”It gives the public the impression that they are the contact persons of those seeking irregular facilitation,” Sampol said in the same statement.
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