Monday, February 23, 2009

Introducing New HTP Writers

To our faithful readers:

We asked and you delivered, thank you!

Allow us to introduce our new contributors who
will provide insights, analysis and perspectives on everything human trafficking-related starting this week. They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and their contributions will be displayed regularly. This does not mean that the application process for volunteer writers is closed. We will continue to accept new applications.

Please welcome our new writers to the team:

Erin Albright

Jenn Hollinger

Maureen Oreiro

Amy Turner

Read about them here and check for their articles coming soon!


- The HTP team

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Freedom Network Events on Human Trafficking

From the Freedom Network:

"Human Trafficking: Laws, Data, Discourses, and Practices" training at The Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University

The Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University will be offering a course on human trafficking on February 25-27, 2009. This course is part of ISIM's Certificate in International Migration Studies. The course description as well as the description of the certificate follow: The course is designed for mid-level professionals. If you need any additional information please contact Elzbieta Gozdziak at

The subject of human trafficking, or the use of force, fraud or coercion to transport persons across international borders or within countries to exploit them for labor or sex, has received renewed attention within the last two decades. In the United States, human trafficking became a focus of activities in the late 1990s and culminated in the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) signed into law on October 16, 2000.

In this course, students will assess the different legal frameworks used to combat human trafficking around the world and compare the different discourses used to discuss the trafficking phenomena in North America and in Europe. Students will also explore the characteristics and special needs of victims (adult and child victims, girls and boys, women and men), their life experiences, and their trafficking trajectories; discuss the modus operandi of traffickers and their networks; debate the effectiveness of governmental anti-trafficking policies and the efficacy of rescue and restore programs; and identify research gaps. The course places special emphasis on evidence-based research and strategies.
The course is taught by an interdisciplinary team of legal and social science scholars, policy-makers, and practitioners.The Institute for the Study of International Migration and the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University are pleased to announce the launch of the Certificate in International Migration Studies. Understanding the complex dynamics behind international migration is essential to improved policies and programs to address the multiple causes and consequences of these movement of people. Courses are geared toward those working in the U.S. government (Grade 12 and above), international organizations, and non-governmental organizations on international migration and refugee issues, and who possess a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. To earn the Certificate in International Migration Studies, students must complete six intensive three to five day courses within two years. The program includes one required course and five electives.


October 29-31, 2009 University of Nebraska - Lincoln

The purpose of this conference is to bring together researchers from many disciplines, as well as government and non-governmental agencies who have responsibility for anti-trafficking efforts, to develop a research agenda.

IF YOU HAVE RESEARCH RESULTS OR IDEAS, or an interest in studying human trafficking, this conference will put you in touch with other researchers in the field. It will put you in touch with people who are “on the ground” in combating human trafficking, who see the effects of trafficking in their work. It will also put you in touch with government agencies and others who fund anti-trafficking efforts, and who will fund knowledge-creation, evaluation, and methodology-creation work. You are welcome to come to hear papers and presentations, and especially to present your own work or ideas.

IF YOU NEED OR FUND RESEARCH IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING, this conference will put you in touch with others, nationally and internationally, engaged in anti-trafficking efforts, as well as scholars with an interest in providing knowledge and methodologies to study the problems surrounding human trafficking. You are welcome to come and describe the problems you face, particularly those for which researchers might offer expertise and solid research-based knowledge, and to help set a research agenda for the future.

VENUE: Sessions will take place at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska, across the street from the University of Nebraska.

FORM AND DEADLINE: An abstract of the paper to be presented or presentation to be made should be submitted to Roméo Guerra by February 28, 2009. Acceptance notifications will be made by June 30, 2009.

If you have questions please call 402-472-5733. Or for more information go to:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Play Reading: The Girls from Afar

Artistic Director, Rehana Mirza
Producing Director, Rohi Mirza Pandya

THE GIRLS FROM AFAR by Libby Emmons February 17 @ 6.30pm Teatro Circulo, 65 E. 4th Street, #11, New York, NY 10003

(New York, NY February 11, 2009) Desipina & Company (Desipina) is known for its ground-breaking work in bringing together diverse stories to one stage. Past Desipina productions have been hailed as “a grand celebration of storytelling, immigrant experiences, and cross-cultural pollination. What we have to learn from one another is just boundless; Desipina & Co. are doing a worthy thing tearing down some of the boundaries that exist between us and letting us laugh and cry together in the dark.” (

In light of the economic meltdown and despite drastic arts funding cuts, Desipina is presenting a series of free readings of plays that speak to social issues and challenge perceptions. THE GIRLS FROM AFAR by Libby Emmons (MFA Playwriting, Columbia University), tells the story of two girls who have come from afar to work as domestics in a wealthy home; but what seems at first to be a great opportunity becomes a lifestyle of brutality.

The second workshop presentation, SITA/SATI, by Snehal Desai, (MFA Theater, Yale University), tells the story of newly widowed Sita Desi, an immigrant from India, who joins a company of actors to challenge and skewer the stereotypical views of South Asians. However, along the way, the ritual of Sati (self-immolization) which at first is being presented as a lark, takes a dark turn as the crowd gets caught up in the frenzy of ritual and tradition and start calling on Sita to enter the fire and become an actual Sati.

There will be Talk Backs with Cast & Crew after Readings.

Desipina & Company is a 501(c) 3, not for profit fusion arts company that focuses on film and theater to promote the sharing and spreading of artistic, cultural, and political dialogues within and between communities. Desipina, as a term, is slang for describing a person of South Asian (desi) and Filipina (pina) descent, like the two founding sisters of Desipina, Rehana Mirza and Rohi Mirza Pandya. Together since 2000, these sisters and their supporters have brought a new, powerful voice to South Asian and Asian men, women, and children.

Tickets are FREE

For reservations, please email or for additional information, please visit us at

Job Openings: European Roma Rights Center

European Roma Rights Center
Legal Consultants for trafficking study

The ERRC is currently seeking 4 legal consultants to work on a project it is implementing in partnership with People in Need Slovakia (PiN) on trafficking Romani youth and women in Eastern and Central Europe. Within this project, implemented in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria, the ERRC and PiN seek to analyse the effectiveness of national laws and policies in prevention and victim support, and are looking for consultants for its implementation.

The project requires a highly qualified applicant for the role of Legal Research Coordinator, as well as legal consultants from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania with expertise in trafficking issues. The consultants will map the existing anti-trafficking laws, policies, data collection and support services and trends in the changes of these.

In addition to the regional languages, all consultants are required to communicate with the ERRC and produce reports in English of a high level.

The Legal Research Coordinator should preferably be based in Budapest, and should ideally have regional familiarity with laws, policies and support frameworks on trafficking. The coordinator will:

· Contribute to the development of research methodology for a team of 5 country-based legal researchers;

· Participate in a training of the country researchers;

· Coordinate the work of and provide guidance to country researchers in implementing the study;

· Ensure quality control of the outputs of the country researchers; and

· Contribute to the drafting of a comprehensive report on trafficking Romani women and youth in Europe.

The Legal Research Coordinator should have a law degree and at least four years experience working on trafficking issues in the region. Experience working on trafficking of Roma preferred. The Coordinator should have experience in the coordination of research projects and teams.

The Legal Researchers must be based in Romania, Bulgaria and Czech Republic, and should be familiar with the national laws, polices and support frameworks on trafficking in the relevant country. The Legal Researchers will:

· Participate in a training progamme for researchers on the study, organised by the ERRC and PiN;

· Conduct a professional analysis of the national laws, policies and support frameworks on trafficking in their country, with a view to trends in the development of such and impact on Roma;

· In accordance with the methodology provided, submit national reports to the ERRC, and revise as requested;

· Contribute to the development of a comprehensive report on trafficking Romani women and youth in Europe, by providing recommendations.

The Legal Researchers should have a law or social sciences degree and at least two years experience working on trafficking issues in their country. Experience working on trafficking of Roma preferred. The Legal Researchers should have experience in conducting legal and policy analysis.

Application Process

Applicants should submit a cover letter clearly indicating which consultancy position they are applying for, as well as their curriculum vitae, an example of past similar work and two references, to:

Hajnalka Nemeth
European Roma Rights Centre
Fax: (36-1)413-2201

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Wednesday, 25 February 2009.

All applicants will be notified of our receipt of application; only selected applicants will be contacted.
The ERRC is committed to equal opportunity for all. Romani candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Position open in San Francisco

Posted on

Trafficking Program Coordinator, Case Manager

Education: No requirement
Location: San Francisco, California, 94103, United States
Posted by: SAGE Project Inc.
Job Category: Counseling, Grants administration
Salary: DOE
Last day to apply: February 23, 2009
Last updated: February 6, 2009
Type: Full time
Language(s): English
Job posted on: February 6, 2009
Area of Focus: Crime, Safety, and Victims’ Issues, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Immigration

Provide case management to trafficked individuals through ongoing assessment of client needs and appropriate referrals to meet client needs. Act as client advocate when circumstances dictate. Collaborate with other community agencies to provide services to clients. Complete periodic reports for submission to funding agents. Co-facilitate outreach and education presentations to potential trafficking victims, community agencies and institutions, social service providers, government agencies, and the larger community to educate them about human trafficking and the identification of trafficking victims. Coordinate volunteer requests and supervise volunteer activities. Attend all SAGE staff meetings and other agency duties.
Additional Qualifications:
Ability to assess a client’s specific needs and plan solutions; to understand and relate to behavior of individuals; to support the objectives of the Agency and meet the requirements of good case management. Good interviewing, organization and assessment skills a must. Knowledge and experience in the field of human trafficking. Knowledge of San Francisco services and resources for victims of trafficking, violence, and women re-entering the community from criminal justice settings and/or substance abuse treatment programs required. Bi-lingual strongly preferred, especially Cantonese, Cambodian (Khmer), Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Tagalog, Taiwanese, or Vietnamese.

How to Apply:
To apply, please contact Mollie Ring at No phone calls please.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

MPs blame traffickers for Rohingya

From the Bangkok Post:

The House committee on security said it has evidence showing transnational human traffickers are behind the influx of Rohingya boat people.

The House committee chairman, Jehraming Tohtayong, said his committee has discovered that networks of transnational human traffickers have been involved in scams to bring Rohingya people into Thai soil before taking them to the third country.

Some of those transnational human traffickers also operated from Thailand, said Mr Jehraming.
Mr Jehraming said the House committee visited on Saturday 78 Rohingya people recently rounded up in Phangnga and detained in Ranong. Police found those Rohingya migrants brought with them telephone numbers of presumably their fellow Rohingya people that have already settled in Thailand, particularly Ranong and Nakhon Ratchasima province.

The committee is assessing the situation of Rohingya's migration in Thailand and will soon report the situation to Suthep Thuagsuban, the deputy prime minister for security, said Mr Jehraming...

According to Mr Jehraming, the Thai government would consult Asean member countries in the coming Asean summit late this month on the Rohingya problems.

The committee viewed the problems must be addressed at the rooted causes by affecting countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

The Thai government should encourage the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to take action by looking after the Rohingyas' living conditions as well as making sure their human rights are well protected at their homeland in Burma, said Mr Jehraming.

The committee also wanted the government to come up with a national strategy for Rohingya issues with a clear operation plan on the issue for state authorities. More importantly, law enforcement officers should take action against human trafficking networks in Thailand.

For those that did not see the headlines, the NY Times reported on Tuesday that about 200 Rohingya refugees from Burma had been rescued at sea after the Thai government forced them to leave Thailand by rounding them up and sending them out to sea on a boat.
From the article:

About 850 Rohingya have been rescued in the last month. Three boats were discovered by Indian authorities and another was found near Thailand. The other three boats are still missing.

The United Nations calculates that about 723,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar. Rohingya are officially considered foreigners in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and are not entitled to own land or hold passports.

Jonathan Head reporting for the BBC News in Bangkok wrote about the unrelenting discrimination faced by Rohingya minorities all over the region.

So what is it that is driving so many Rohingya, a Muslim minority from the western-most part of Burma, to flee in rickety boats in the hope of finding refuge elsewhere?

The term Rohingya refers to a distinct, Muslim ethnic group living in northern Rakhine state, along the border with Bangladesh.

They are thought to be descended from Arab and other Muslim traders who travelled and settled there more than 1,000 years ago.

They speak a dialect of Bengali similar to that spoken in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh.
There are perhaps one million living there, but may be as many more living overseas, mainly in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

Harassed and beaten

Northern Rakhine state is one of the poorest and most isolated in Burma.
But the burdens imposed on the Rohingya by Burma's military rulers make their situation a whole lot worse than other people living in the area.

"Economic hardship and chronic poverty prevents many thousands of people in north Rakhine state from gaining food security," says Chris Kaye, the country director for the UN's World Food Programme who visited there two months ago.

"Many do not have land rights or access to farmland to grow food, and the restrictions and limitations on the movement of people, goods and commodities places additional stress on people's livelihood opportunities."

For a start, the Rohingya are denied citizenship under Burma's 1982 citizenship law, which leaves them out of the 135 ethnic groups officially recognised by the state.

The official view of the Burmese military is that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh or their descendants.

Rohingya trying to leave Burma are often harassed and beaten by the Burmese security forces, but then allowed to leave, and told never to return.

They are also unable to travel freely. The military demands that they obtain an official permit even to travel to the next town.

It is almost impossible for them to get permission to travel outside northern Rakhine.

Marriage restrictions

Rohingya are subjected to routine forced labour.

The amount of time they have to give varies, but Chris Lewa at the Arakan Project says that typically a Rohingya man will have to give up one day a week to work on military or government projects, and one night for sentry duty.

This reduces the time they have to earn a living for their families. Burmese Buddhists living in the area are usually not required to do this.

The Rohingya have also lost a lot of arable land, which has been confiscated by the military to give to Buddhist settlers from elsewhere in Burma.

One of the most bizarre forms of discrimination imposed on the Rohingya is that they must get official permission to get married.

Like all the other documents they must obtain, these give opportunities for officials to extort money from them, and the marriage approval can take two years or more.

Couples caught getting married or sleeping together without this approval can be arrested.
The Arakan Project has documented a number of cases where the men have been jailed, in one case for seven years. When they get married they are required to sign a commitment not to have more than two children.

Camp squalor

This litany of abuse and harassment makes the Rohingya a downtrodden underclass even in Burma, one of the world's most repressive and impoverished states.

This is why 200,000 fled to Bangladesh in 1978, and another 250,000 between 1991 and 1992. There has been a steady stream into Bangladesh since then.

But the numbers heading out into the Andaman Sea by boat have increased sharply over the past two to three years.

There has been no discernable deterioration in the way the Rohingya are being treated by the Burmese authorities, as in 1978 and 1991, so other factors are driving them to leave.

Conditions for the Rohingya in Bangladesh are grim. Around 28,000 live in the two officially recognised camps, which get some assistance from the UN. But 200,000 more eke out an existence outside the camps, in a desperately poor part of Bangladesh, with no official documentation, and no prospect of employment.

In the past they have made their way to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, in search of work, as many Bangladeshis do. They could do that because it was relatively easy to obtain Bangladeshi passports. But heightened security concerns in Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia over Islamic extremism have made it far more difficult for the stateless Rohingya to travel.

Rare publicity

Instead they have been making their way to Malaysia by boat.

There are already around 20,000 Rohingya in Malaysia, and the UN has had some success in protecting them from deportation. The job prospects there are better than Bangladesh, and this slim hope of a better life is what is now driving thousands to take the risky journey across the Andaman Sea.

Inevitably some have landed in Thailand instead. Others have been intercepted by the Thai navy once they entered its territorial waters, which lie en route to Malaysia.

Networks of brokers have grown to cash in on this hope; they charge up to $800 (£547) to make the trip in rickety and overcrowded boats.

Shortages of food and higher prices over the past year in northern Rakhine state are also driving more people to flee.

Of the Rohingya survivors being washed up in Indonesia and the Andaman Islands after being set adrift by the Thai security forces, some left Bangladesh, some left Burma, and a few had been rounded up in Thailand after living there for some time.

The scandal over Thailand's treatment of the Rohingya has at least brought their plight some rare publicity.

It has also brought home to Thailand and Burma's other neighbours that the unending repression inside Burma affects them far more than anyone else, and that the Rohingya are a regional problem which requires a concerted regional response.

Whatever horrors they may have endured recently in the Andaman Sea, the flow of Rohingya boat people is unlikely to stop.

Whether traffickers are to blame for Rohingya moving in droves across borders, the response currently put forward by the affected governments is hardly productive and puts the refugees at further risk of being retrafficked or killed.

Monday, February 02, 2009

First shelter for trafficked people opens in Damascus

From IRIN:

DAMASCUS, 2 February 2009 - A shelter for people trafficking victims has just opened in an undisclosed location in Damascus. It is the first of its kind in Syria, which has only recently recognised human trafficking as a problem but still has no specific laws against it.

Human trafficking is only just starting to gain widespread public attention in the region: Jordan passed a law to penalise people trafficking only last week; a similar Egyptian law is still in draft form, and other countries like Lebanon still have no specific legislation against people traffickers. The new shelter has 20 beds, a communal area, a kitchen and a bathroom. Further rooms are for medical treatment, psychological care and legal advice. A second shelter is planned for the northern city of Aleppo.

The shelter is “pioneering work”, according to Laila Tomeh, national programme officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Syria. “In 2005 Syria set up a national committee to draft a law on counter-trafficking and to look into establishing a shelter,” she said.

“Before then the Middle East did not talk about counter-trafficking as an issue relevant to it; you couldn’t sense a problem. A few years on and Syria has one shelter open, another under way, and a draft law in the cabinet,” Tomeh said.

The international nature of trafficking means it is no longer viable for any country to ignore, according to Ibrahim Daraji, professor of international law at Damascus University, who authored a recent study of the Syrian laws that could cover human trafficking in the absence of specific legislation.

Syria’s geographical location, in the centre of the Middle East and close to conflict zones such as Iraq, makes it especially susceptible to traffickers, Daraji said in his report. Syria has been slow to tackle human trafficking despite being party to relevant international conventions, according to the 2008 US State Department’s report on trafficking in persons. The report accuses the Syrian government of failing to implement the minimum required counter-trafficking protection. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said the report was “based on political considerations” and “not objective”.

A lack of research means the nature of Syria’s victims and whether it is predominantly a country of origin, transition or destination is unknown. The 2008 US report said Syria is “a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour”. Domestic workers, it said, came from southeast Asia and Africa, often lured under false promises of jobs and better living conditions. Some countries, such as the Philippines, have banned their citizens from seeking domestic work in Syria due to the lack of protection. Women from eastern Europe and Iraq are believed to be trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Influx of Iraqis

The influx of Iraqis following the war and sectarian strife in Iraq has been a huge impetus for the shelter in Syria. During interviews UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officials identified refugees whom they suspected had been induced to enter the country under false pretences. Most were women and children.

“We will certainly be referring people,” said Carole Laleve, spokesperson for the UNHCR. “In 2008 we identified over 800 women who were victims of sexual gender-based violence. Some of those are thought to be victims of trafficking but we have no figures on how many. Anecdotal evidence suggests the victims in the Iraqi community are women, and the exploitation of a sexual nature.” Evidence from other refugee organisations paints the same picture. The Good Shepherd Convent in Damascus has cared for Iraqi women who have been sold into prostitution by their own husbands, according to a report by in 2005.

The Damascus shelter

Such agencies will refer victims to the Damascus shelter, which is run by the Association for Women’s Role Development (AWRD), a Syrian NGO.

“The shelter caters for residents’ daily needs - food, clothes and general care - as well as ongoing support,” says Tomeh. Victims of trafficking are frequently traumatised by their experience, compounded by being in a foreign country without family and friends and sometimes with no knowledge of the local language. The shelter, says Tomeh, will offer psychological support, medical and legal care.
Once more is known about the demographics of Syria’s share of the four million people the UN estimates to be the global figure of trafficked persons, more specific services can be put in place. “The Syrian government is very supportive,” says Tomeh. “Once the law is passed we will work to raise awareness and train judges and law enforcement officials.”

The current predicament of many victims, say NGOs who prefer anonymity, is to be stranded with few resources and even fewer rights, sometimes ending up in Syrian jails for lack of papers.

Workshops across the Middle East continue to raise awareness of people trafficking and counter-initiatives among NGOs and governments. The Arab League has also proposed an initiative to work towards an Arab convention against human trafficking, with ministers due to meet in Saudi Arabia later in 2009.

This is a very well-written article about the shelter with good general information about the situation in Syria. The article is sensitive to the confidentiality of the shelter while still being able to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking and the progression of laws and victim services.