Tag Archives: human trafficking

249 Mile Run in Chains for For Human Trafficking Awareness

Today in British Columbia, singer Eric Proffitt began his 249 mile run from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to the Statue of Liberty in New York City to bring awareness to human trafficking. Proffitt is doing this in chains to illustrate the bonds of silence under which many suffer in our world today.

He is joined by Rev. Marcia L. Dyson, Georgetown University Center for Social Justice, who recently ended a 22-day fast for Darfur, Haiti and for awareness of the gun violence in her home town of Chicago; Theresa Flores, who as a teenager was forced into a relationship of sexual prostitution by an older boy at her school and who now works to help rescue others victimized by human trafficking.

Proffitt is also joined by Ken Morris, the great, grandson of slave abolitionist, Frederick Douglass and educator, Booker T. Washington. Ken gave up his marketing business in Las Vegas to partner the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation on this global human crisis that is human trafficking.

Members of the organizations, Innocents at Risk, which spear-headed Trafficking of Persons (TIP) awareness among flight attendants and The Sanctuary of Moses, which houses, feeds, and educates child victims of trafficking in Benin, as well as several United States congressmen, are in attendance at the Lincoln Memorial kick-off.

This run, called “Run 4 The Rescue” will help raise money and to bring attention to human trafficking and slavery.

This grassroots campaign is spreading like wild-fire across the nation and will reach an apex on September 27, 2009, with the flagship Stop Child Trafficking Wake-Rescue a Child with Your Sole in New York City and simultaneous events in 40 cities nationwide. Individuals and teams across the country will walk to raise money for this cause.

The Run 4 The Rescue will continue with Eric Proffitt tracking an additional 250 miles in the United Kingdom, where slavery was first abolished by colonists.

Learn more or get involved at Run4TheRescue.com


Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report Findings Released

The Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report is the first of its kind. A year-long study of human trafficking in Cincinnati and the Tri-state area, led by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has found, based on some 140 interviews with law enforcement personnel, judges, social workers, healthcare providers, government leaders and other affected parties, several areas of concern:

  • Lack of awareness about the problem both in the general public and among people who deal with it, such as police officers, judges and first responders
  • Inadequate legislation
  • Lack of training to help law enforcement identify victims.

More than 90% of the report’s interviewees say they are aware of trafficking happening locally, and just under half said they or their organizations have encountered victims directly. The report does not state the exact number of confirmed cases in the area, but it does note that many cases go undocumented.

“Trafficking cases are underreported both locally and nationally,” said Deborah Lydon, an attorney from Dinsmore & Shohl who helped spearhead the study. “Our first responders and social service providers acknowledged that they need better training to identify cases.”

In addition to inadequate training, the report says that existing laws and regulations covering trafficking are not streamlined and often come with weak penalties. States in our region also treat the crime differently: In Kentucky and Indiana, trafficking is a distinct crime, but in Ohio, it’s not.

The report offers two main conclusions for how the region should prepare for dealing with human trafficking: Focus on public awareness and training, and use benchmark statutes from other cities that would define
trafficking as a crime.

The Freedom Center was assisted on the project by more than 30 volunteers in the community including attorneys, law students, paralegals, and individuals from non-profit organizations interested in justice issues.

Read the press release.

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Human Trafficking

In a piece for The Washington Post, Secretary of State Hillary Rhodam Clinton discusses the battle against slavery in the world and at home:

To some, human trafficking may seem like a problem limited to other parts of the world. In fact, it occurs in every country, including the United States, and we have a responsibility to fight it just as others do. The destructive effects of trafficking have an impact on all of us. Trafficking weakens legitimate economies, breaks up families, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. It undermines our long-term efforts to promote peace and prosperity worldwide. And it is an affront to our values and our commitment to human rights.

The Obama administration views the fight against human trafficking, at home and abroad, as an important priority on our foreign policy agenda. The United States funds 140 anti-trafficking programs in nearly 70 countries, as well as 42 domestic task forces that bring state and local authorities together with nongovernmental organizations to combat trafficking. But there is so much more to do.

The problem is particularly urgent now, as local economies around the world reel from the global financial crisis. People are increasingly desperate for the chance to support their families, making them more susceptible to the tricks of ruthless criminals. Economic pressure means more incentive for unscrupulous bosses to squeeze everything they can from vulnerable workers and fewer resources for the organizations and governments trying to stop them.

Slavery Still Exists Week April 19 – 26

University of Oregon students and state groups have made this “Slavery Still Exists Week” in an effort to confront issues of human trafficking in their state. Nat Levy at The Register-Guard recently reported on the situation:

Human trafficking — the exploitation of people, usually for labor or sex — has gained a foothold in Oregon in recent years, according to advocates. Human trafficking comes in two forms, domestic and international, said Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Bickford, head of the Portland-based Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force. International enslavement usually ends in forced labor or prostitution. Domestically, he said, almost all trafficking cases involve child prostitution.

Bickford said the hidden nature of human trafficking is one of the biggest problems in combating it. “These people don’t call 911,” he said.

In 2007, the Oregon Senate enacted Senate Bill 578, which makes human trafficking — whether it be for purposes of labor or sex — a criminal offense with sentences of up to 10 years in prison. Bickford said the law hasn’t yet led to any convictions, but the district attorney’s office in Portland is emphasizing the offense.

Portland is the most problematic area in the state for trafficking, Bickford said. A robust sex industry and access to Interstate 5 are among the contributing factors.

“We are a transit and destination state — meaning that we are on the I-5 corridor, making unmonitored movement fairly simple,” said James Pond, executive director of Transitions Global, a Portland group established to help victims of human trafficking recover from their ordeals. “Truck stops are a marketplace used for trafficking girls.”

Eugene may also be seeing a rise in human trafficking cases, said James Ewell, director of the Transitions Living Program at Looking Glass New Roads. Ewell said in the past year he’s met multiple youths who have reported involvement in human trafficking. Many kids have reported being approached by strangers who wanted to “take them on road trips” — usually to larger metropolitan areas, he said.

“It’s only a handful of cases,” Ewell said, “but it’s on our radar more than it’s ever been.”

Luis C. de Baca: Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Yesterday President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Luis C. de Baca as Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department.

President Obama said, “I’m grateful that this fine public servant has agreed to join my administration, and I am confident that with Secretary Clinton he will be an indispensable part of our team as we work tirelessly to stand up for human rights and the rule of law. I am confident that his unique experiences and proven ability will make him a strong advocate for our values and for justice around the globe.”

De Baca is Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, on detail from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. His portfolio includes national security, intelligence, immigration, civil rights, and modern slavery issues. At the Justice Department, de Baca served as Chief Counsel of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. During the Clinton Administration, he was the Department’s Involuntary Servitude and Slavery Coordinator and was instrumental in developing the United States’ victim-centered approach to combating modern slavery. He has investigated and prosecuted human trafficking cases in which victims were held for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, farm labor, domestic service, and factory work. De Baca received the leading honor given by the national trafficking victim service provider community, the Freedom Network’s Paul & Sheila Wellstone Award, and has been named the Michigan Law School’s Distinguished Latino Alumnus.

Read more about de Baca…

Guilfoil Justice Day

Guilfoil Justice Day honors the memory of Sister Mary Alice Guilfoil, who was an advocate for causes of peace and justice globally. This year, Sister Patrice Colletti was the featured speaker at the 11th annual Guilfoil Justice Day in Kansas City. She used the commemoration as a springboard for a discussion with the attending students of six Kansas and Missouri high schools about modern slavery.

“I’ve got news for you,” she told students. “Slavery on the North American continent has not ended yet. In today’s modern world, slavery continues to exist. It looks different, but it still has slave elements.”

She drew on several examples, one very close to home for her Kansas City area audience. Kevin Kelly at The Catholic Key writes:

In 2007, FBI, immigration officials and local police agencies raided three Johnson County, Kan., massage parlors where women from China were lured with the promise of jobs and forced into prostitution once they arrived here, all transportation expenses paid.

The four owners and operators of the massage parlors eventually pleaded guilty in federal district court to such charges as interstate transportation for criminal sexual activity, money laundering and conspiracy.

Police seized some $62,000 in cash at the parlors during a raid. Another $95,000 in U.S. bank accounts was also seized, and the defendants also admitted that they had wired some $500,000 to various locations in China through other businesses they owned.

Sister Patrice told those gathered that the 2,000-member, Milwaukee-based Sisters of the Divine Savior took on human trafficking and modern slavery as their institutional issue in 2002.

“Victims are frightened, forced and coerced to stay,” she said. “They are just as enslaved as if they had chains… This is your chance to be in tomorrow’s history textbooks. We are the abolitionists the world needs right now. We are in a better position to make changes today that we have ever been before in our history.”

Neighborhood Watch: Joining Forces with Canada

From The Toronto Star:

Obama’s inauguration was truly a turning of the page. Slavery is the deepest scar in American history. As an African American took the oath of office, that scar was finally healed. But as an old injustice was symbolically rectified, a new one was spreading around the globe.

Human trafficking of women, men and children for the purposes of forced labour and/or sexual exploitation occurs in most countries, including Canada. As the U.S. Action Group to End Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery said in its transition report to Obama: “The illicit commercialization of humanity is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, and the selling of children is the fastest growing global crime.”

The Obama administration will make this scourge a foreign policy priority. In her Senate confirmation hearings to become secretary of state, Hillary Clinton pledged “to do all that we can to end this modern form of slavery. We have sex slavery; we have wage slavery. And it is primarily a slavery of girls and women.”

Clinton is not alone in her concern. The Council of Europe has a strong convention on human trafficking, and Brazil has a national action plan for the eradication of slave labour. There is a potential international coalition willing to be led. Obama and Clinton can be the leaders of that coalition, and Canada should be the first to urge them to do so.

The Harper government may be lukewarm on the environment compared with Obama’s enthusiasm, but there is no disagreement on the importance of human trafficking. In February 2007, Conservative MP Joy Smith introduced motion C-153, which was passed unanimously in the House of Commons, on Canada’s need for a national strategy to combat human trafficking.

Smith also recently introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Criminal Code to include a mandatory minimum prison term of five years for the trafficking of children. Citing a case in which a man made more than $350,000 off a 15-year-old by daily exploiting her sexually, Smith declared: “I believe there is clearly need for Parliament to provide additional guidance to the courts on the trafficking of minors.”

Canadians are also active internationally. Brian McConaghy, a former forensic scientist with the RCMP, was involved in the first investigation and conviction of a Canadian international pedophile in Cambodia. He now directs the Ratanak Foundation, which tries to protect Cambodian children from sexual exploitation. McConaghy recently spoke in Toronto and described how dangerous this was; brothel owners have guns and are quite prepared to use them. But despite the threats, Cambodian children are being rescued and helped in rebuilding their lives.