Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dear Corporation, Trafficking is Your Problem Too

From the Nation:

By Greg Kaufmann

On the ornate Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room at the US State Department—before a standing-room-only crowd that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described as "one of the biggest we’ve had here”—Clinton recognized Laura Germino, the antislavery campaign coordinator for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), as an "anti-Trafficking Hero.” In the ten years that the award has been given to individuals who have shown an extraordinary commitment and leadership in the fight against slavery, Germino is the first US-based recipient.

The occasion was the release of the State Department’s 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Clinton said the report provides "in-depth assessments and recommendations for 177 countries” on how to reach the goal of "abolishing the illicit trade in human beings.” In another first, the report includes an assessment of trafficking in the United States.

It reads in part that "the United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor, debt bondage and forced prostitution. Trafficking occurs primarily for labor and most commonly in domestic servitude, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, construction, health and elder care, hair and nail salons, and strip club dancing…. More investigations and prosecutions have taken place for sex trafficking offenses than for labor trafficking offenses, but law enforcement identified a comparatively higher number of labor trafficking victims as such cases often involve more victims.”

Clinton described the significance of including the United States in the TIP report.

"This report sends a clear message to all of our countrymen and women: human trafficking is not someone else’s problem,” she said. "Involuntary servitude is not something we can ignore or hope doesn’t exist in our own community.”

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, a longtime federal prosecutor and now director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, agreed. "In our first Trafficking in Persons Report, we cited the US only as a destination or transit country, oblivious to the reality that we, too, are a source country for people held in servitude,” he said. “We have an involuntary servitude problem now just as we always have throughout history.”

Which is exactly why Germino was honored along with eight other activists from Brazil, Burundi, Hungary, India, Jordan, Mauritania, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. Germino and her colleagues at CIW have helped the US Department of Justice prosecute seven slavery operations in Florida over the last fifteen years, resulting in the liberation of over 1,000 farmworkers, as the plaque presented to Germino attests.

CdeBaca introduced Germino who spoke on behalf of all of the TIP Heroes.

"In the early 1990s, Laura began to not just give a voice to escaped slaves, but traveled to Washington on her own dime to hold the federal government accountable to investigate and prosecute these cases. And when I say ‘federal government,’ I mean me,” he laughed. "There have been many cases exposing servitude for both sex and labor in Florida. And the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers and Laura Germino have always been there. They’ve been important partners and, more importantly, an independent and pressing voice as they uncover slavery rings, tap the power of the workers, and hold companies and governments accountable.”

Holding companies accountable was a theme not only voiced by CdeBaca but also Clinton—and not just the primary perpetrators of slavery but the corporations that use those companies in their supply chains. That concept has been the driving force behind CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food, demanding that companies take responsibility for the conditions of their supply chain in order to alleviate the poverty and powerlessness at the root of the agriculture industry. It is the central argument CIW has waged in successfully obtaining pay raises and enforceable code of conduct agreements from the four largest fast food companies in the world, the two largest food service companies, and the largest organic grocer. (Watch out Publix and other grocers, you’re next.)

So when the Secretary spoke these words—"It is everyone’s responsibility. Businesses that knowingly profit or exhibit reckless disregard about their supply chains…all of us have to speak out and act forcefully”—you could almost feel the chills traveling up the spines of the hundreds of activists from all over the world who packed the room. Some broke into grins, cameras flashed.

“Now you have Secretary of State Clinton saying we need to have corporate responsibility in the supply chain,” Germino later told me. “That’s huge. We have to get to the point of prevention where slavery doesn’t happen anymore, and right now the most effective way to get that done is through market consequences. Any corporate buyer of fruits and vegetables who still is not willing to take ownership of this issue has no excuses left.”

When Germino took the stage she thanked the other award recipients for their “unflagging courage and grace and progress made under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances in which you work overseas.” She pledged that together they would continue “our collective fight to wipe slavery off the face of this earth.”

She delivered a hopeful message in citing the progress that has already been made.

“Twenty years ago, there was no State Department TIP Report. There was no Justice Department Anti-Trafficking Unit. There was no Trafficking Victims Protection Act, no freedom network of NGOs,” she said. “There was no admission yet by this great nation that the unbroken threat of slavery that has so tragically woven through our history, taking on different patterns, but always weaving the horrendous depravation of liberty—that it was a constant…. So when we struggle with our frustration at the pace of change, we remember those days and realize how far things have come in such a short time.”

With a nod to the Secretary, Germino offered that “it takes a village to raise a child; it takes a whole community to fight slavery.”

Germino recognized her colleagues at CIW—and that wasn’t just lip service. In many years of working for and covering NGOs, I’ve never seen one that operates so efficiently as a collective—in the decisions they make, the actions they take, the wages they earn, and the shared credit for victories. CIW simply doesn’t distinguish its parts from the whole.

I think that’s a key reason this community-based organization in tiny Immokalee, Florida is able to have such a powerful national impact. It’s why parked outside of the State Department during the ceremony—and on the National Mall today and tomorrow—was CIW’s Modern Day Slavery Museum. And it’s why one of CIW’s many heroes found herself standing in the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room, hearing the central tenets of CIW’s fight against slavery echoed by the US Secretary of State.

This year an underlying theme of the TIP release ceremony was corporate responsibility. Both Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca noted the connection between lack of corporate accountability and slavery. Secretary Clinton went further, and suggested it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up and act against such an injustice. Laura Germino, who was honored at the ceremony for her work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, sees corporate responsibility concerning their supply chain as key in preventing slavery in the fields. Germino says “We have to get to the point of prevention where slavery doesn’t happen anymore, and right now the most effective way to get that done is through market consequences.” In other words, the best way to prevent slavery is making companies aware that if they do not take action to prevent it, people will take their business to companies that do.

It is only appropriate that we too honor the Coalition and Ms. Germino by becoming involved in their work. One particular way to do this is through their post card campaign, which asks grocery stores and fast-food chains to ensure that the people picking their produce are treated and paid fairly. To do this, you can request postcards through CIW ( and send them to the companies they are targeting. The campaign has been very successful this far and several fast-food companies and grocery stores have agreed to better practices including Subway and Whole Foods. This is a very simple but effective way to demand these companies take action against exploitation and slavery in the fields. The more companies understand that their customers want and demand them to take responsibility the more willing they will be to do it. Request your postcards today and get a few extra for some friends so they can get involved too!

Photo by Kay Chernush for the State Department.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Civil Litigation on Behalf of Trafficking Survivors

Once a trafficker has been identified and caught, criminal prosecution is one avenue to bring justice. While pursuing a criminal case may be the most obvious way to make a trafficker answer for her or his crime, civil litigation is another option that, depending on the circumstances, might be appropriate in addition to or instead of pursuing a criminal case. A booklet published by the Immigrant Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center "Civil Litigation on Behalf of Victims of Human Trafficking," authored by Daniel Werner and Kathleen Kim, provides an overview of the role of civil litigation in combating trafficking and aiding survivors.

There are many reasons to pursue a civil case on behalf of a trafficking victim. Werner and Kim suggest that "Civil litigation gives power to the powerless and is a critical tool to correct deep and pervasive wrongs" (xvii). In a presentation entitled "
Civil Remedies for Victims of Human Trafficking," Kim suggests that such cases can be empowering for survivors, since they have more control over these cases than criminal cases. While survivors sometimes may receive restitution in criminal cases, Kim also points out that sometimes the damages exceed the amount they are awarded; moreover, civil cases require a lesser burden of proof than criminal cases, meaning that they can be successful even when a criminal case was not. In their booklet, Kim and Werner suggest that "[l]itigation also discourages would-be-traffickers and employers hiring trafficked persons from engaging in these practices" (1).Thus, civil cases can be another source of deterrence, since they are another way to punish traffickers where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook.

Civil cases on behalf of trafficking survivors are certainly not easy. Though they can be empowering for survivors, they can also be painful and difficult.
Werner and Kim point out that such cases require cultural competence and an ability to work closely with the client as an equal and collaborator. These cases can also require a great deal of resources in terms of time, energy, and money (Werner and Kim 1).

Depending on the type of human trafficking, civil cases may face certain limitations. For a variety of reasons, sex trafficking cases have not lead to many civil cases. As Werner and Kim point out, testifying can be traumatic and re-victimizing for survivors of sex trafficking (11). Participating in a civil case, far from being empowering, may be extremely harmful and hinder rehabilitation. Moreover, given that commercial sex work is often "not recognized as legal work"(11), many of the laws used for civil cases on behalf of labor trafficking victims will not apply to victims of sex trafficking; locating defendants can also be difficult. Since criminal sex trafficking cases have been more successful than criminal prosecution in labor cases, pursuing the criminal angle may be more effective.

Civil suit on behalf of domestic workers who are trafficked also poses challenges, albeit for different reasons. Many of the United State's labor laws do not apply to domestic workers (Werner and Kim 10). This lack of protection makes people more vulnerable to exploitation as domestic slaves, and makes it harder to seek restitution on behalf of victims. Moreover, foreign diplomats have been identified as perpetrators in these cases, and they are immune from civil and criminal liability in the United States. As an aside, this problem is certainly not confined to the United States (indeed, according to the 2009 Trafficking in Person's Report,
Belgium and France also face problems with foreign diplomats using domestic slaves).

Civil action can be brought against traffickers under a number of different causes of action. The
Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 amended the 2000 TVPA to include a private right of action. As of the 2008 booklet by Werner and Kim, over 20 civil lawsuits have been filed under this law; for cases under the TVPRA, plaintiffs must have been victims of forced labor, sex trafficking, or trafficking into servitude (Werner and Kim 29). Though many states have enacted anti-trafficking legislation, only California has adopted state level private right of action legislation for victims of trafficking (Werner and Kim 38).

Cases can also be brought under other laws that are not specific to trafficking. For example, successful cases have been brought under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Cases brought under this act "must be based on a 'pattern' of 'racketeering activity'" (45); under the TVPRA, human trafficking crimes is considered racketeering activity. Cases can also be brought under various labor laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Claims can be brought under many other acts relating to discrimination and torts. Depending on the situation, defendants may be liable for a variety of damages, including back pay, over-time pay, punitive damages, compensatory damages, treble damages, restitution, and attorney's fees.

In May, the Human Trafficking Project reported on a
successful case on behalf of farm workers in Denver who were victims of trafficking; each of the five workers received $1.5 million in compensation. As noted earlier, many cases are at various stages under the TVPRA. Civil litigation on behalf of survivors of human trafficking can be a powerful tool to empower survivors, provide some payment of damages that can help survivors rebuild their lives, and deter would-be traffickers; nonetheless, such cases are difficult and can be costly, and depending on the type of trafficking may actually be harmful.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Descent Into Slavery, and a Ladder to Another Life

From the New York Times:

He wore a satin suit onstage, so new that a tag was still fixed to the cuff. His 2-year-old daughter wiggled in his arms. The crowd cheered. Lifting his right hand to his lips, Jose Gutierrez seemed to blow a kiss to the audience. But it was more.

Mr. Gutierrez had gotten to the other side of slavery, climbing a ladder of second chances.
More than a decade ago, he was part of the nameless, unseen cast of a horror story. Lured from Mexico on promises of prosperity, he and 56 other people lived as prisoners in two row houses in Queens. By day, they sold key chains and miniature screwdriver kits in the subways, at airports, on roadsides. At night, they turned over every penny to the bosses of the houses.

All of the peddlers were deaf. Mr. Gutierrez, the youngest, had arrived in the United States at age 15, fluent only in Mexican Sign Language.

On Tuesday morning, 13 years after two of the deaf Mexican peddlers walked into a police station in Queens with a letter describing the conditions, Mr. Gutierrez was honored for his diligent work at a company that has cleaning contracts with federal agencies.

Mr. Gutierrez’s assignment: janitor at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

“I remembered playing with a car when I was a little boy, and seeing a picture of her,” he said. “When I found out that I was going to work there, it moved me. Thrilled me.”

There are, it turns out, second acts in American lives. Mr. Gutierrez leaves his home in Astoria shortly after 5 a.m., catches a ferry at 6:30, lands on the island 15 minutes later. He cleans bathrooms, empties trash, dusts a giant globe that shows the journeys of people to the United States.

His own odyssey began in 1995, when he heard from a friend about opportunities for deaf people in the United States. He was the seventh child in a family of eight, the only one who was deaf. “My friend’s father drove us to San Diego,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “I was very awkward. I didn’t know anything. We were supposed to go around and sell things. The money we collected we had to give to the boss.”

After a year in Los Angeles, he moved to a house in New York City that ran under the same terms, led by the Paoletti family, many of whom were also deaf. They would order a box of novelties, like miniature balls and bats, paying $75. The items would be attached to cards explaining that the seller was deaf. The peddlers would spend 12 to 16 hours a day in subway cars, dropping the trinkets in the laps of riders. Each box would bring in $485 in revenue. The bosses would swap bundles of single dollars at Atlantic City casinos for $100 bills, making the money easier to smuggle into Mexico, where it was banked.

Mr. Gutierrez depended entirely on the bosses for a bed and food. They took his money. “We were like slaves,” he said. “It was very frustrating. We couldn’t talk to the cops. It was heartbreaking.”

One day in July 1997, two of the peddlers went into the 115th Precinct station house in Queens, bringing a letter they had composed with help from a couple they had met at Newark Airport. “The police brought interpreters in to get the story told,” said Maria V. Pardo, a job counselor for the deaf with Fedcap Rehabilitation Services. The police found $35,000 in cash in one of the houses and 57 imprisoned peddlers. Federal prosecutors indicted 20 people on charges that included slavery and smuggling, and ultimately, they all pleaded guilty to some wrongdoing.

The peddlers, who were in the country illegally, were subject to deportation, but the administration of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani stepped in; the era of zero tolerance for illegal immigrants had not yet begun. They were put up in a motel by the city, and slowly found places to live, schools to attend, jobs to go to. “They were given special permission to work,” Ms. Pardo said. Nearly 40 people decided to stay in the United States.

Mr. Gutierrez, 17 at the time that the slavery ring was broken up, went to the Lexington School for the Deaf. “The support I got there was wonderful,” he said, and he also fell in love with another student, Christina Gonzalez, who was born in the United States. “I had no family here; her family has been so good to me.”

She pointed him to Fedcap, which provides training and employment for people with disabilities. In 2007, Fedcap sent him to work on Liberty and Ellis Islands under a janitorial services contract administered by AbilityOne, a federal program. He makes $20 an hour plus benefits, and now has a green card.

So on Tuesday, Mr. Gutierrez was brought back to receive a special honor at the Fedcap graduation ceremony.

With him onstage were Ms. Gonzalez and their daughter, Gloria. He lifted his fingers to his mouth, as if he were blowing a kiss. His audience knew better: it was a symbol from American Sign Language, repeated over and over.

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you.”

What an absolutely fantastic story. This case, for all of its particular depravity for targeting people with disabilities, is one that was important for the creation and passage of the TVPA; we reference it often during trainings. It is hard to imagine in today's climate around immigration, what would have happened to the survivors in this case if there were no relief options for survivors. As the article mentions, the Mayor's office (and I'm sure other advocates) had to step in and prevent their deportation and luckily, that was more feasible at the time because "zero tolerance" had not yet begun.

I think the story is important as well, because when people are quick to assume that victims are weak individuals and that is why they are "so easily manipulated," we see the personal strength and determination in so many survivors who go on to achieve great things.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trafficker Gets 16 Years in Prison

Portland pimp gets prison

by Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A Portland man has been sentenced to nearly 16 years in federal prison after he was convicted of sex trafficking involving a 15-year-old Seattle girl.

Federal prosecutors said 39-year-old Donnico T. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charge last March after the teen tipped investigators in 2008.

She said she was recruited by an associate of Johnson's and enticed to travel from Seattle to Portland to engage in prostitution.

Prosecutors said Johnson regularly drove from Seattle and Portland to work female prostitutes and agreed to transport the teenager to Portland.

During her stay in Portland, Johnson drove the victim to stores where she could purchase a cell phone and lingerie, then helped post commercial sex advertisements for her on Craigslist and transport her to meet customers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why is it so hard to catch men who sell teen girls for sex?

By Julia Dahl for The Crime Report.

Like a lot of 14-year-old girls, all Shaquana wanted was a boyfriend. The skinny Brooklyn, N.Y. eighth-grader was on the honor roll at school, but unhappy at home. She hadn’t seen her father in years, and endured constant teasing about her looks from her siblings and verbal abuse from her strict, religious mother.

“I used to pray every night that God would make me prettier and give me a boyfriend,” says Shaquna, now 20, who asked that her last name not be used for this story.

In the spring of 2004, her prayers were answered – or so she thought. Every day after school, as Shaquana walked to her job at a local farmers’ market, she’d pass a guy who tried to get her attention. You’re so cute, he’d tell her. Come here and talk to me. Shaquana ignored him for a while, but after a couple of weeks, she relented. The two exchanged numbers and started talking on the phone. She told him she was 15; she thought he was probably about 17.

“He made me feel really comfortable,” she remembers. Soon, they were meeting at the local park, then hanging out at his apartment, where he started to pressure her for sex. “I told him it was a sin, but he was like, ‘I like you a lot, and if you like me you’re gonna do it.’ I thought that meant we would be together forever.”

She was wrong. After they had sex a few times, he stopped calling, and told her to stop coming around. She was devastated, and finally went to his place to beg him to take her back. That’s when he told her the truth: he was 26 years old ―and a pimp.

“He said, ‘I don’t have time for little girls,’” she says. “He told me if I wanted to be with him I had to work for him, or just get lost. I was so focused on being with him that I said I would.” Soon, Shaquana was going on “dates” he set up for her. He taught her how to perform oral sex, and strung her along, being nice one minute, manipulative the next. Shaquana says she felt completely trapped. “It was so degrading, and I felt like I was the only one my age who could possibly be doing this.”

She wasn’t. By some estimates, there may be as many as 100,000 minors involved in the sex trade in the United States. . .

Oakland’s Jim Saleda is one of five city officers assigned to a unit focused specifically on under-age prostitution and internet crimes against children – a unit that Saleda fears may not survive upcoming budget cuts. (Last year, California cut $80 million from the state’s Child Welfare Services budget, according to the non-profit California Budget Project.)

Saleda says that even as recently as 15 years ago, pimping was “a gentleman’s game,” a family business, of sorts, often passed down from father or uncle to son.

His observation matches research done by Prof. Jody Raphael of DePaul University Law School. Raphael conducted in-depth interviews of five former Chicago-area pimps and found that all but one had been introduced to the sex trade by family members.

Now, says Saleda, gangs and drug dealers have gotten involved, making the profession more violent and ruthless. Just this year, Saleda found one 16-year-old sex worker “savagely” murdered. Her killer is still at large.

“Pimping young girls is a lot less risk and a lot less overhead than dealing dope,” Saleda says. “The girl is the one that gets arrested, and she won’t talk because it’s built into them never to roll on their pimp. And it doesn’t cost anything but maybe a couple fast food meals a day and maybe getting their nails done.”

Slowly, law enforcement authorities and prosecutors at both state and federal levels have recognized they need to address the problem more seriously. Since 2003, the federally funded Innocence Lost National Initiative, has marshaled the efforts of 38 task forces and working groups around the country that focus on combating domestic child sex trafficking. . .

Some states, however, are doing more. In Washington State, for instance, a new law mandates longer sentences for both johns and pimps who exploit underage prostitutes. As of June 10, the punishment for paying for sex with someone under 18 went from a slap on the wrist to 21 to 27 months in prison, a $5,000 fine and 15 years of sex offender registration. . .

Still, concedes FBI Agent Michael Langeman, such efforts may not necessarily lead to more prosecutions.

“Prosecutors have a history of shying away from these cases because [the girls] don’t always make great witnesses,” explains Langeman, who has been with Innocence Lost for five years. “It can be (difficult) to portray them as victims when they’ve become so hard.”

The legal system wasn’t much help to Shaquana. She never testified against any of the men who turned her out, raped her, and even beat her so savagely she ended up in the hospital. But, with the help of advocacy group GEMS, she constructed a better future for herself. She was valedictorian at her high school graduation and while she attends college she works for GEMS, speaking at juvenile detention centers and group homes about her experiences.

“It was so easy for him to manipulate me,” says Shaquana of her first pimp. “He was twice my age. And all those guys I slept with, they’d ask me how old I was; when I’d say 19, they’d say, ‘No you’re not, you look 13.’ They knew, and they went on and did their thing anyway.”

Read the full article here.

Even as the US formally acknowledges its own trafficking problem for the first time in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, it is important to consider the challenges that exist in the US for ending all forms of trafficking. I appreciate that this article details the insidious forms that recruitment and control can take, particularly in the commercial sexual exploitation of children, while also pointing to both policy and law enforcement innovation, as well as policy and law enforcement challenges. At the same time, issues with victim services and after care that this article draws our attention to bear out the US assessment in the TIP report that "government services for trafficked U.S. citizen children were not well coordinated; they were dispersed through existing child protection and juvenile justice structures. The government made grants to NGOs for victim services, though there are reports that the system is cumbersome and some NGOs have opted out of participating. Victim identification, given the amount of resources put into the effort, is considered to be low and law enforcement officials are sometimes untrained or unwilling to undertake victim protection measures."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Countries React to 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

The U.S. Department of State's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report came out this week, to much international interest. The report ranks countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking, from Tier 1 (highest) to Tier 3 (lowest), and is used by the U.S. as a diplomatic tool. Here are some of the responses, both positive and negative, from some of the countries ranked in the report:

Cuba: Cuba's foreign ministry spokesperson issued a strongly worded statement against the report, referring to it as "shameful slander," "false and disrespectful," and "can only be explained by the desperate need the U.S. government has to justify...the persistence of its cruel policy of (economic) embargo." Stating that "sexual trafficking of minors does not exist in Cuba," the spokesperson added that Cuba has some of the most advanced standards and mechanisms in the region for preventing and combating human trafficking. Cuba was placed in Tier 3.

Vietnam: According to the Thanh Nien News, the foreign ministry spokesperson for Vietnam stated that the report "contains political characteristics and unjust comments that fail to reflect the real situation in Vietnam." Vietnam was placed in Tier 2.

Guyana: The Guyanese Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon reportedly called the report "most superficial, unproven, the dirtiest kind of information collected...." Guyana was placed in Tier 2.

Nigeria: Nigeria was placed in Tier 1 this year. Executive Secretary Barrister Simon Chuzi Egede acknowledged the accomplishment, but reportedly "stressed the need for all involved in this fight to be mindful of the fact that the battle is far from being won, because the enemies of the Nigerian children are ever ready to deploy their arsenals of assault through any loophole either real or imagined."

Jamaica: Says one writer from Jamaica, "I find it counterproductive for the U.S. to stand in judgement of the world when the very evil it purports to eradicate is happening in abundance in its backyard. I find the report to be contradictory for how is the U.S. any different from Jamaica in that it is not fully compliant but is making 'significant' efforts to eliminate human trafficking." Jamaica was placed in Tier 2.

Thailand: Thailand has expressed its disappointment in the TIP report; Thailand's foreign affairs deputy spokesperson Thani Thongphakdi reportedly stated that "Thailand doubts the credibility of the U.S. report because this came out despite our efforts to provide further updates [on the country's measures to handle the problem] to the US that were seen throughout the year." Thailand was placed on the Tier 2 Watch List.

Fiji: Fiji moved to the Tier 2 Watch List, up from Tier 3 last year, which has given it hope that the government's application for a $1 billion loan will be approved by the International Monetary Fund. While Fiji was on the Tier 3 list, U.S. members on the IMF board would apparently have been required to vote against the loan.

United Arab Emirates: In response to the report, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated that the UAE "welcomes recognition of the country's anti-trafficking efforts, constructive criticism as well as collaborative efforts. The UAE is aware that several challenges still lie ahead, and we are committed to continuing our efforts alongside our international partners." The UAE was upgraded from the Tier 2 Watch List last year, to Tier 2 this year.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Welcome HTP's Newest Contributor: Amanda Gould

Although my first introduction to human trafficking was through reading an article on youth temple prostitution in India, years later I became fascinated by the economics of human trafficking. By focusing on economics during my graduate degree, I began to see the problem of human trafficking in a new light, which ultimately unleashed a Pandora’s box of issues. Everyday products, including clothing and cell phones, became suspect because of their potential contamination through slave labor; something I realized only in part before. Conversations with friends and classmates turned to questions of ethics. Do we boycott stores for selling items that use slave labor? Would such a boycott lead to an increase in human trafficking and slave labor through the unemployment of innocent parties? As a person who did not want to benefit from slave labor, I was overwhelmed. I could not inspect every factory or field to ensure my purchases were slave free but I had another important tool that I could use, my demand. It became clear that if enough customers demanded slave free products and increased corporate accountability they would get it. Suddenly, I realized that our community has so many tools to fight human trafficking and modern slavery right at our fingertips. Through my blogs, I will study some of the products we come in to contact with that might contain slave labor in the production process and what the community can do to fight it. This is meant to empower us as a community and not as a tool for guilt (few people would willingly give up their cell phones). I am convinced that an informed community of consumers (whether students, factory workers, teachers or CEOs) armed with practical ideas can hold companies accountable and fight for a more just, slave free world.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Executive Assistant Position Open at Tahirih Justice Center

From the Tahirih Justice Center:

Job Announcement
Executive Assistant

Location: Falls Church, VA

By providing holistic legal services and engaging in national public policy advocacy, the Tahirih Justice Center (Tahirih) works to promote access to justice in the United States for immigrant women and girls who are fleeing violence. Tahirih is a Bahá’í-inspired nonprofit organization that offers pro bono representation to women and girls seeking protection from such gender-based human rights abuses as domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, honor crimes, and forced marriage. Winner of the 2007 Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management, Tahirih has a staff of 28 with offices in Falls Church, VA; Houston, TX; and Baltimore, MD.

Position Summary: Tahirih is currently seeking to fill the position of Executive Assistant, which provides administrative support to the Executive Director. Additional support will be provided to the Development Department and Public Policy Director, and other areas as needed. The candidate must have superior organizational skills, excellent communication skills, a high level of maturity and sound judgment. S/he must be able to work in a fast-paced environment with highly motivated staff in a rapidly growing, mission-focused organization. The position reports to the Executive Director.

Primary Responsibilities:

• Respond to routine correspondence, including individual donor requests, and field variety of inquiries via e-mail and telephone

• Coordinate appointments and make travel arrangements for Executive Director

• Provide general administrative support to Executive Director

• Edit and format documents and presentations for the Executive Director, and for Development department, as needed

• Maintain contact lists for Executive Director and Public Policy Director

• Attend Board of Directors meetings and help manage Board relations

• Conduct background research and assist with preparation for presentations and media interviews

• Assist with strategic analysis of organizational goals, metrics, and growth

• Answer Tahirih’s primary phone line (2 hours per day); conduct phone-screenings of potential clients

• Process donor thank you letters and track and file donations

• Assist with maintenance of donor records and contact tracking using Convio and Salesforce’s Common Ground databases

• Work with Grants manager to draft grant requests and reports

• Assist Development Team in event execution and follow-up

The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

• A college degree

• Detail-oriented with superior problem-solving, decision-making, organizational, and time management skills

• Strong ability to maintain confidentiality and use discretion

• Strong interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills

• Ability to prioritize multiple tasks, organize work, and follow through independently

• Experience working in an office environment, preferably in a nonprofit setting

• Flexibility in adapting work capacity to the needs of the office

• Ability to establish administrative systems within the office

• Proficient in Microsoft Office (including Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher), knowledge of Internet research tools

• Candidates applying must have work authorization in the United States

• Candidates will be asked to make a two year commitment to the position

Annual salary and benefits: Salary ranges from $28,000 to $32,000, depending on experience.

Benefits include: 15 days of paid accrued vacation during the first year (20 days of vacation after thefirst year), additional week of vacation between Christmas and New Years, fully-paid health and dentalinsurance coverage, 403(b) plan, flex-spending account, in-house training programs, professionaldevelopment opportunities, and staff enrichment retreats.


Please email a cover letter, resume, and a list of 3 references to:

Human Resources Department
Tahirih Justice Center
6402 Arlington Blvd., Ste. 300
Falls Church, VA 22042
Fax: 571-282-6162

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Landmark as first human trafficking case goes ahead in Ireland

The first human trafficking court case will go ahead in Ireland after a slew of allegations.
Some 66 allegations of sex trafficking were made in 2009 alone.

Catherine Dunne, of the Labour Party’s women section said, "In June 2008, the 'US Trafficking in Persons Report' classified Ireland for the first time as a destination country for women, men, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.”

No one in Ireland has ever been charged with the crime of human trafficking even though 2008 saw the introduction of Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.

Out of the 66 allegations in 2009 only 13 were found not to involve human trafficking. Dunne commented on the lack of convictions, thus far, despite the introduction of the law.

She said “In the two years since this law has existed there have been no convictions…Ten prosecution cases have been initiated but we wait for a conviction. While this is not a criticism, we do want to note the fact that this is the case.

"We know from studies that trafficked girls and women have been identified in Ireland.
She added “We do not want this piece of legislation to be like the law against marital rape, which was enacted in 1990 but only secured the first conviction in 2002.”

At a Stormont Public Accounts Committee meeting last month assistant chief constable of the Police Service in Northern Ireland, Drew Harris, said “Girls in their early teens are being trafficked to Northern Ireland and forced into prostitution and servitude right under our noses.”

The conference brought to light chilling stories about various cases of trafficking discovered throughout Ireland.

Harris told the story of a young orphaned girl who had been trafficked through four countries. She was just one of 20 people the Police Service in Northern Ireland had discovered in 2006.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

US Evaluation in the 2010 TIP Report

Marking the tenth anniversary since the US passed the TVPA and the UN adopted the Palermo Protocol may seem like cause enough for marking this year's TIP Report as a particularly special document. However, in addition to these milestones, the United States has been included in the tier rankings for the first time since the State Department began releasing the annual Trafficking In Persons Report. When the news was announced last year that the US would be given a tier ranking along with a summary of government efforts to combat trafficking, it was met with a healthy dose of skepticism: how could the US possibly rank itself honestly and fairly?

Previously, the TIP Report relied exclusively on data provided by the DOJ's report to Congress when adding information about the US's anti-trafficking effort. This year, however, Secretary Clinton stated that, "“We have to ensure that our policies live up to our ideals, and that is why we have for the first time included the United States.”

The US was given a Tier 1 ranking (the highest out of the four rankings a country may receive), which came as a surprise to no one. What is surprising is the diversity of information provided by the summary of the DOS findings. While you will find more information by accessing the report itself, there are a few highlights that stood out to me:
Eighty-two percent of these foreign adult victims and 56 percent of foreign child trafficking victims were labor trafficking victims.
The statistic in and of itself does not surprise me; the majority of the cases at the organization which I currently work are those trafficked for labor purposes. The percentage of child labor trafficking victims did surprise me, however, and later in the report, it mentions that the gender split in child labor trafficking victims was nearly 50-50.

What the report also mentions, of course, is that the standardization of data collection in the US has yet to develop, which is why, still to this day, we do not have an accurate representation of what trafficking looks like in the US. What will also be more helpful to understanding trafficking is data collection that reflects the nuances of cases that involve both sex and labor trafficking.
Forty-two states have enacted specific anti-trafficking statutes using varying definitions and a range of penalties. Such statutes are only gradually coming into use; during the reporting period, two states obtained their first convictions under anti-trafficking statutes passed in 2003 and 2007.
Again, not surprising, but still a pretty sad statistic. The report also mentions the disparities between states on public benefits that are available to survivors.
In a separate effort, some state and local law enforcement agencies operate under cooperative agreements following section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes the federally supervised enforcement of certain immigration authorities related to the investigation, apprehension, and detention of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. Participants in the 287(g) agreement must undergo training on victim and witness protections, including victim-based immigration relief. However, victim advocates reported that this training has not enhanced the response to or identification of trafficking victims or other immigrant victims of crime.
Now this surprised me in the sense that I would not have connected the 287(g) agreements with anti-trafficking efforts and I was surprised to see them mentioned at all in the TIP Report. 287(g) agreements have come under severe criticism by immigration and victim service advocates because of the role it gives law enforcement officers who would otherwise not be enforcing federal immigration law. Local and state law enforcement officials can enter into agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce immigration law. The fear this type of cooperation places on immigrants and migrant workers was noted in the recent HRW report on child labor in agriculture, a previous Justice Strategies report, among others. It would interesting to see if there were any concrete examples of successful identification of trafficking victims as a direct result of these agreements.
While there has been a 210 percent increase in certifications of foreign victims over the past five years, there has been no corresponding increase in funding for services. In each of the last three years, the U.S. government exhausted the funding allotted for the reimbursement system before the end of the year.
The report goes into further detail about the complications and burden the funding delivery structure also places on service providers; a problem that most directly affects survivors.
Allegations of U.S. government contractors and subcontractors engaging in forced labor and procuring commercial sex acts were well-publicized, most recently involving private security firms hired by U.S. embassies as well as DOD contractors...During the reporting period, although allegations have been investigated, no contractors were prosecuted and no contracts were terminated. An additional Department of State report to Congress is forthcoming in the summer of 2010.
I had heard information about the involvement of slave labor in the building of US embassies abroad, most notably through The Slave Next Door, but less about the security firms. Hopefully the report to Congress will contain productive information.

Of course, the report made a lengthy list of general recommendations that the US should engage in order to improve its response: improve data collection, increase law enforcement training, increase funding to service providers, improve cooperation among stakeholders, make immigrant and migrant workers more aware of their rights. As Ambassador Lu CdeBaca put it, "As we celebrate the timeless words of our Constitution’s 13th Amendment – that '[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist' – we recognize that such absolute guarantees need to be constantly enforced lest they only be words on a page."

Hopefully, with a more continuous process to collect the information on effort in the US for the TIP Report, these recommendations, however vague, will become more than just words on a page.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Children Carry Guns for a U.S. Ally, Somalia

From the New York Times:

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Awil Salah Osman prowls the streets of this shattered city, looking like so many other boys, with ripped-up clothes, thin limbs and eyes eager for attention and affection.

But Awil is different in two notable ways: he is shouldering a fully automatic, fully loaded Kalashnikov assault rifle; and he is working for a military that is substantially armed and financed by the United States.

“You!” he shouts at a driver trying to sneak past his checkpoint, his cherubic face turning violently angry.

“You know what I’m doing here!” He shakes his gun menacingly. “Stop your car!”

The driver halts immediately. In Somalia, lives are lost quickly, and few want to take their chances with a moody 12-year-old.

It is well known that Somalia’s radical Islamist insurgents are plucking children off soccer fields and turning them into fighters. But Awil is not a rebel. He is working for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, a critical piece of the American counterterrorism strategy in the Horn of Africa.

According to Somali human rights groups and United Nations officials, the Somali government, which relies on assistance from the West to survive, is fielding hundreds of children or more on the front lines, some as young as 9.

Child soldiers are deployed across the globe, but according to the United Nations, the Somali government is among the “most persistent violators” of sending children into war, finding itself on a list with notorious rebel groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Somali government officials concede that they have not done the proper vetting. Officials also revealed that the United States government was helping pay their soldiers, an arrangement American officials confirmed, raising the possibility that the wages for some of these child combatants may have come from American taxpayers.

United Nations officials say they have offered the Somali government specific plans to demobilize the children. But Somalia’s leaders, struggling for years to withstand the insurgents’ advances, have been paralyzed by bitter infighting and are so far unresponsive.

Several American officials also said that they were concerned about the use of child soldiers and that they were pushing their Somali counterparts to be more careful. But when asked how the American government could guarantee that American money was not being used to arm children, one of the officials said, “I don’t have a good answer for that.”

According to Unicef, only two countries have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the use of soldiers younger than 15: the United States and Somalia.

Many human rights groups find this unacceptable, and President Obama himself, when this issue was raised during his campaign, did not disagree.

“It is embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land,” he said.

All across this lawless land, smooth, hairless faces peek out from behind enormous guns. In blown-out buildings, children chamber bullets twice the size of their fingers. In neighborhoods by the sea, they run checkpoints and face down four-by-four trucks, though they can barely see over the hood.

For the full article, please click here.

From the release of the US TIP Report yesterday, with child soldiers are listed as a Topic of Special Interest, Somalia is not given a tier ranking for the eighth consecutive year due to a lack of a viable government. The information on Somalia, however, goes into detail about the different methods by which child soldiers are recruited, kidnapped or forced into supporting militias throughout the country. This article, however, is a reminder that human trafficking, in this case for the purpose of child soldiers, is affected by the wider policy decisions we make concerning security, economics, trade, immigration. It will never be enough to simply say, "We are against slavery," but then ignore the implications of our larger policy decisions. Or to say that it is embarrassing to be in the company of Somalia because the U.S. also has not signed the CRC, but then continue on without ratifying the convention. It will take more than that to put words into action.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The United States' Department of State Releases the 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

The US Department of State released the 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report this morning. Notably, this is the first year that the US is evaluated in this report. Access the full report here.

In a statement accompanying the release of the TIP Report, Secretary Clinton stated, "The 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report outlines the continuing challenges across the globe, including in the United States. The Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.

This year’s report highlights several key trends, including the suffering of women and children in involuntary domestic servitude, the challenges and successes in identifying and protecting victims, and the need to include anti-trafficking policies in our response to natural disasters, as was evident in the aftermath of this year’s earthquake in Haiti.

Ending this global scourge is an important policy priority for the United States. This fluid phenomenon continues to affect cultures, communities, and countries spanning the globe. Through partnerships, we can confront it head-on and lift its victims from slavery to freedom."

Read the full statement here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

First US Recipient of State Department's Anti-Trafficking Hero Award to Be Given This Year

Great news out of Washington, DC: U.S. State Department to recognize CIW Anti-Slavery Coordinator Laura Germino as 2010 "Anti-Trafficking Hero"!

CIW Modern-Day Slavery Museum headed to DC to serve as backdrop for the ceremony. Germino (above, leading Sec. of Labor Solis on
recent tour of museum) to be first US recipient of State Department "Hero" recognition...

As part of the annual TIP report release, the State Department recognizes the efforts of a handful of individuals from around the world who have shown extraordinary commitment and leadership in the fight against slavery, TIP "Heroes" as the State Department calls them.

This year, Laura Germino, the CIW's Anti-Slavery Campaign Coordinator, has been chosen to receive this terrific distinction, and when she does, she will be the first U.S.-based recipient to receive the recognition.

We are extremely proud of Laura, whose untiring work fighting forced labor in Florida -- beginning in the early 1990's -- helped launch today's anti-slavery movement in the U.S. Nearly twenty years later, Laura continues to investigate slavery operations, work in partnership with the Department of Justice to prosecute slavers, and train state and local law enforcement, community service organizations, and FBI personnel in how to identify and combat forced labor across the Southeast.

We are also very proud that the State Department has requested that the CIW's Modern-Day Slavery Museum serve as the backdrop for the 2010 TIP report ceremony. The museum will begin its way up 95 tomorrow with the goal of making it there in one piece for Monday's ceremony in Washington, DC!

The museum, housed in an actual cargo truck outfitted as a replica of the trucks involved in a recent slavery operation (U.S. v. Navarrete, 2008), may or may not make it there for the ceremony, so, just in case it doesn't, we're including here a great video on the museum and its tour earlier this year across the state of Florida. The video is set to, "Captain, Don't You Kill Old Bob," a work song performed by Fred Lee Fox, a 20-year-old turpentine worker, in 1939. The song was recorded by Stetson Kennedy, Florida's foremost folklorist and a renown human rights activist, at a labor camp outside Cross City, Dixie County, Florida.

Enjoy, and check back soon for more details on Monday's ceremony in Washington!
My personal exposure to the work of this organization leaves me with great happiness that this award is being given to Laura Germino. From the direct service they provide to farmworkers and their Anti-Slavery Campaign to their work on the demand side of labor exploitation and trafficking with the Campaign for Fair Food, this is definitely an organization worth following and supporting. You can gain information from their website on the statistics concerning farmworkers. You can read about their efforts in The Slave Next Door. You can explore their Take Action page to find out how you can help. Hopefully this recognition will also lead to greater attention to the slavery, abuse and exploitation that happens in our fields every day.

Please follow the release of this year's report this Monday, June 14th.

Congratulations to Laura Germino and the CIW!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stop Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking Training

Stop Modern Slavery DC's Training Team will host a human trafficking training at the Cleveland Park Police Station on Tuesday, June 15th at 7:30 pm.

The training will cover what human trafficking is, how you can spot a trafficked victim--often described by experts as "hidden in plain sight"--and what you can do to help put an end to these unthinkable crimes. The training is open to the public.

The training is targeted to groups that may come into contact with trafficking victims, including emergency medical personnel, taxi drivers, police officers, hotel workers, etc. Stop Modern Day Slavery DC urges people to forward information about the event to anyone who may be interested in the event, particular the populations listed above. Contact for more information.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
7:30pm - 9:30pm

Cleveland Park police station
3320 Idaho Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20016

Open to the public

To RSVP, go to one of these links:



Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Shoes For Change

From the (Norfolk, VA) website:

'Shoe Revolt' to stomp out child sex trafficking
One woman is taking action to stomp out child sex trafficking - with a shoe revolt.

She's doing it one pair of shoes at a time.

"Every woman loves shoes."

Ateba Crocker will be selling designer shoes to help raise money for a charity she just founded called Shoe Revolt.

Her group will raise money to help shelters and organizations that fight against human sex trafficking in the US.

"Here in the land of the free in the United States of America we have slaves. Sex slaves. And these sex slaves are girls," Crocker said.

The Department of Justice estimates that more than 50,000 women and children become victims of trafficking each year.

They are sold to and raped by men they don't even know.

Ateba says the power to take action to help these victims is right under your feet.

"I'm just asking you to go to your closet and pick out the shoes that are dearest to your heart because those shoes can make an impact in the life of a girl."

So far, Ateba has received donations from super star celebrities, including one very famous fashionista.

"I opened the shoes up and I looked inside the box and it was SJP and I thought who is SJP? Then I saw a little card that said Sarah Jessica Parker and I was like no, uh-uh...I know this isn't...haha!"

That's right - three pairs of autographed shoes from Miss Carrie Bradshaw herself, complete with handwritten cards on Sex and the City stationery.

Starting August 1 anyone will be able to visit the Shoe Revolt website and purchase the shoes and others to help young girls in need - a purchase that Ateba says is priceless.

"I think it gives you greater joy than a pair of shoes."

Bidding on shoes will start August 1, but you may start donating new or gently worn shoes now.

Yet another inspiring example of what one creative person can do to make a difference! To view the video interview, click here. It will be fun to see the shop when it opens on August 1--in the meantime, you can view their website here.

Photo credit: gemgirlart

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

New York's New Domestic Worker Law

Last week, the New York State Senate approved the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. According to the bill summary, the legislation "Enacts provisions relating to labor standards for domestic workers; includes provisions for a living wage, overtime pay, vacation, sick and personal time, advance notice of termination and severance pay; also prohibits trafficking in domestic workers; requires record keeping and notice; includes domestic workers under provisions of the labor law; includes penalties for violations thereof."

Currently, domestic workers are not covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act and are excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, making them particularly vulnerable to exploitation, including human trafficking. Advocacy groups believe that this could be an important step to redressing these inequalities, particularly if the New York law sets precedence in other states.

As Tyler has reported in relation to Kuwait and Qatar, the US is not alone in excluding domestic workers from basic labor protection. Often domestic labor is performed by immigrant populations, particularly women of color, who have historically been denied other basic rights and protections. This creates a vicious cycle where people who are already vulnerable to exploitation due to denial of other rights, poverty, racism, and gender discrimination, are made even more vulnerable by laws that are inacted because of racism and gender discrimination.

Human trafficking
involving forced domestic servitude/domestic slavery has been identified in the US. The anti-trafficking organization Break the Chain Campaign began due to "an expose in the Washington City Paper by IPS Fellow Martha Honey (entitled "Capital Slaves"), which chronicled the lives of women living in virtual slavery while working as domestic servants for officials of the World Bank and other international agencies." In 2006, two Egyptian nationals "to federal charges for enslaving a 10-year-old girl for two years and forcing her to work as a domestic servant for their family of seven at their Irvine residence." A Wisconsin couple were sentenced in 2009 for forcing a woman to work as their domestic slave for 19 years.

In order for the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to become law, New York Governor David Paterson must sign a reconcilled of the bill; according to New York Business, last year Governor Paterson pledged to sign the legislation.