Judges And Prosecutors Share Best Practices At Global Vatican Trafficking Summit

For two days, judges and prosecutors from all around the world have met in the Vatican to discuss the dangers of organized crime and combat the modern slavery of the 21st century, human trafficking.

It was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and shows participants that they are not alone when fighting this issue.

JOAN CHARLES

Judge in Trinidad and Tobago
“Just having the platform to really articulate the issues and to hear what other countries have been doing who have been addressing this problem seriously for a very long time is helpful, so I will be able to take it back. We are doing right now continued training and sensitization of the public and of the important state holders how to recognize victims of human trafficking.”

Statistics show that around 24.9 million victims are trapped in this form of slavery. Of these, 81 percent are exploited for labor and 19 percent are sexually exploited. One out of every four victims is a minor, with 71 percent being women and 29 percent male.

To read the full story on Rome Reports: Click Here

In Uganda, Missionary Nun Determined To Tackle Child Begging

Children begging on the streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. (Credit: Stock image.)

A Comboni missionary nun in Uganda who’d been out of the country for ten years recently returned to discover a widespread social problem she hadn’t seen before: children begging on the streets, often as part of a human trafficking ring. Working with the Ugandan government, Sister Fernanda Cristinelli is determined to do something about it.

Sister Fernanda Cristinelli, a Comboni missionary, has returned to Uganda where she had served for ten years, to witness a disturbing new phenomenon: widespread begging. According to Fides News Agency, children sit by roadsides all night, “begging for a few pennies.

“They cannot have a hot meal, go to school, play, wash, feel safe and secure. They are children from the Karamoja area, one of the poorest in the northeast of Uganda, who are forced by adults to beg in the capital Kampala,” Cristinelli told Crux.

Cristinelli says her return to Uganda has put her “in front of a phenomenon that I had never seen in Kampala years ago.

“Children aged 3 to 10, and girls from 12 to 14, are begging on the streets, the busiest of the capital, and adult women control them. The little ones jump towards cars in the unpredictable traffic of the streets of Kampala to beg, and the girls, with babies on their shoulders, do the same.

“In addition, these children live in decrepit tents at the edge of the city, in the mud when it rains,” Cristinelli said.

The Daily Mail quotes 32-year old Betty, a mother of five, whose survival and that of her family depends on the capacity of her two -year old daughter, Namuli, to make money begging.

“Like any mother, I feel bad about doing this. But without the money Namuli gets from begging we will die of starvation and have no money to put clothes on our backs. This is the only way we can stay alive,” she said.

To read the full story by Ngala Killian Chitom on Crux: Click Here

Asia’s Biggest Budget Airline Trains Crew To Spot Human Traffickers

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – AirAsia, the biggest budget carrier in Asia, is training thousands of its staff to fight human trafficking, becoming one of the first airlines in the continent to crack down on the global crime.

Companies have come under increased pressure to tackle human trafficking, with an estimated 46 million people living in slavery and profits thought to be about $150 billion.

Planes are a key part of the illegal business, as criminal gangs transport thousands of children and vulnerable people by air each year for redeployment as sex workers, domestic helpers or in forced labour.

The United Nations has urged airlines to step in and look out for the tell-tale signs of trafficking.

Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia, which flies millions of passengers annually to more than 110 destinations, said it was planning to train between 5,000 and 10,000 frontline staff, including cabin crew. “We like to be able to have our staff know what to do if somebody comes up to them and says ‘I need help’,” said Yap Mun Ching, the executive director of AirAsia Foundation, the airline’s philanthropic arm, which is driving the initiative.

To read the full story by Beh Lih Yi  on Daily MailClick Here

Environmental Refugees and Human Trafficking

September 2017

By Jeanne Christensen, RSM

Board Member, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is a collaborative, faith-based network that offers educational programs and materials, supports access to survivor services, and engages in legislative advocacy to eradicate modern-day slavery. 

Following recent climate disasters, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the earthquake in Mexico, members of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking believed it would be helpful to share a module entitled “Human Trafficking and Environmental Refugees” for reflection and discussion.  The module can be found here. 

A brief excerpt from the module states: “In June 2014, the number of refugees worldwide exceeded 50 million children, women and men.  Half of these refugees are children, many travelling alone or in groups.  Millions of these refugees are people displaced because of environmental disasters.   Moreover, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that in the coming years millions of people will be forced to relocate due to effects of climate change, including shoreline erosion, coastal flooding or disruption of normal farming practices. Today analysts predict that this crisis in the making will affect 150-200 million men, women and children by 2050, or roughly one in every 45 persons on earth…

Women and children are especially vulnerable during any forced displacement, and they are at risk for gender-based violence and human trafficking.  Many children are separated from their families during an environmental disaster. According to the UNHCR, children alone represent more than half of the people of concern. These children, unaccompanied by any adult or caregiver, are targets for traffickers. Two months after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, aid agencies warned that up to two million children were at risk of abuse or trafficking.

After Superstorm Sandy, the state of New Jersey allotted more than $1.5 million to bolster human trafficking prevention and treatment services for homeless youth.  Unfortunately, the areas of the world that are most affected by disasters related to climate change are the least likely to have the resources to protect their citizens.”

Sources for the module’s content are:

A second resource was provided in early September by Polaris Project.  The article follows.

Natural Disasters and the Increased Risk for Human Trafficking

September 1, 2017

Brandon Bouchard, Director of Media Relations – Polaris Project

While every human trafficking victim is different, a common thread they share is the presence of a vulnerability that traffickers exploit. Those types of vulnerabilities are rampant in the aftermath of natural disasters. Homelessness is one of the top risk factors reported by survivors to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and we often learn that survivors were recruited by traffickers near shelters or centers helping people in need.

In fact, one of the largest labor trafficking cases in United States history resulted from human trafficking that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. You can read more about that case from the Southern Poverty Law Center here.

As people throughout the United States continue to deal with the horrific hardships stemming from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it is critical that a response to potential human trafficking is part of long-term recovery efforts. Local service providers and the organizations in the fight against human trafficking throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Florida need help more than ever as they provide aid to people affected by these natural disasters.

Below are a few organizations partnered with the National Human Trafficking Hotline that we encourage you to donate to, and you can search for more in the Human Trafficking Referral Directory.

  • YMCA of Greater Houston
  • Houston Area Women’s Center
  • United Against Human Trafficking
  • Freedom Place
  • Kristi House
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Miami
  • Catholic Charities – Diocese of Palm Beach
  • More Too Life
  • Selah Freedom

To learn more about the impact climate change is having on human trafficking throughout the world, read this important report from our friends at the International Organization for Migration: The Climate Change-Human Trafficking Nexus”: here

Excerpts from this document note: “Climate change increases the risk of natural disasters and places a strain on livelihoods; it exacerbates poverty and can potentially cause situations of conflict and instability. These conditions, when combined with a mismatch between demand for labour and supply and the proliferation of unscrupulous recruitment agencies, increase high-risk behaviours and other negative coping strategies among affected populations. This may include resorting to migrant smugglers, which in turn makes them vulnerable to trafficking in persons (TiP) and associated forms of exploitation and abuse. The impact of climate change, however, is rarely considered as a potential contributor to human trafficking in global discussions or national level policy frameworks,1 and the nexus remains relatively underexplored.”  (p. 3)

“These incidents of human trafficking in the wake of sudden- and slow-onset disasters demonstrate the necessity of a planned response to address this cross-cutting issue. In general, there needs to be an acknowledgement that human trafficking can be an unintended but direct consequence when migration occurs in the absence of government support and management, after disasters or in the face of slow-onset events.” (p. 9)

What Happens to Foreign Human Trafficking Victims in the United States?

At age 19, Indira Karimova became a victim of human trafficking after she was married off to her second cousin and brought to the United States.

After their arranged marriage in Kyrgyzstan, Karimova and her husband moved to America before settling in Tyler, Texas, where she alleges she was subjected to years of abuse.

Living in America and unable to speak English, Karimova said she was in hell with no lifeline to escape.

“It was a horrible experience. I was thinking it’s like a dream,” Karimova said in a phone interview. “I’m going to wake up one day, and I’ll be out of this.”

NBC News does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse, but Karimova agreed to share her story in the hopes it will help other victims come forward.

The United Nations recognizes 21 million people across the globe, like Karimova, are victims of trafficking as it raises awareness on Sunday for World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

Smith County arrest records show Karimova’s now ex-husband was taken into custody three times — once in 2013 and twice in 2014 — for assaulting a family member. Karimova’s ex-husband was never convicted of assaulting her. The assault charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to violating the protective order in 2015, court records show.

To read the full story and watch the videos by Kalhan Rosenblatt on NBC: Click Here

Challenging The Human Traffickers

HSBC is educating its employees about the role that banks can play in preventing human trafficking.

It has produced a new staff training video to explain the scale of the challenge. In it, Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, the European law enforcement agency, says: “[Human trafficking] is one of the biggest and fastest-growing criminal problems. Worldwide, we have 21 million estimated victims… these people are being subjected to the worst forms of abuse, all in the name of making a quick buck.”

Victims of human trafficking pay criminals to smuggle them across international borders in the hope of starting a new life. In reality, however, they are forced to work in unsafe or inhumane conditions. They are rarely paid and may be assaulted, imprisoned and, in effect, enslaved.

The video includes an interview with a former victim of human trafficking. Adam was brought into the UK, beaten and forced to work. A criminal gang opened a bank account in his name and used it to make a fraudulent loan application, as well as to steal Adam’s wages.

When opening bank accounts for Adam and other victims, the criminal kept tight hold of their identity cards and passports. “The trafficker interpreted for us,” says Adam, “but he was really there to control what we did.”

To read the full story and watch the video on HSBC: Click Here

The Worldwide Debate About Sex Work: Morality Meets Reality

The streets of Pattaya, Thailand, one of the centers of sex tourism (GSR photo / Gail DeGeorge)
 

Public debate on prostitution can be tough, passionate, even angry.

Advocates for differing views cannot even agree on shared language: Those who defend their way of making a living as sex workers embrace their identity, while those, like Catholic sisters, who decry the term “sex work” as demeaning, argue that there can be no dignity in a relationship where sex is exchanged for money.

“I think all prostitution represents violence against women,” said Sr. Winifred Doherty, who represents the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd at the United Nations.

The passion Doherty and others bring to the topic has been on display during the last year at the U.N., where space for debate about social topics is frequently honored. The topic of prostitution was addressed at several U.N. forums during the March meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women.

And inevitably, the U.N.’s upcoming World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30 may prompt debate. The commemoration was designated by U.N. member states beginning in 2013 as necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

To read the full story by Chris on Global Sisters Report: Click Here

The State Department Just Released Its Human Trafficking Report. Here’s Why It Matters.

The State Department has released its annual Trafficking in Persons report on human trafficking. The big headline was that China was downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest ranking, suggesting that the Trump administration had decided to rebuke China by grouping it with the likes of Syria, Iran and North Korea.

The report grades countries on how well or poorly they are doing in combating human trafficking. This approach — which I call “Scorecard Diplomacy” — has become increasingly important in international relations. Countries often really care about their scores. Here’s how it works.

What is a scorecard?

A scorecard is a way of rating or ranking how countries or other actors perform in a given policy area. These scorecards are not one-off rankings; they recur, usually yearly.

Why should states, or anyone else, care about scorecards? First of all, they are easier to understand and digest than complicated policy reports. Instead of emphasizing detailed data, they sort countries into categories (e.g., countries that are succeeding vs. countries that are failing), or rank them with some score, showing which countries are at the top and at the bottom. These categories and rankings are framed to pressure the countries being ranked. For example, if your country is at the bottom of a well-respected scorecard for “Ease of Doing Business,” you might find that international businesses start to avoid investing in your economy.

 

To read the full story by Judith Kelley on The Washington Post: Click Here

Exclusive: Overruling Diplomats, U.S. To Drop Iraq, Myanmar From Child Soldiers’ List

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a highly unusual intervention, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to remove Iraq and Myanmar from a U.S. list of the world’s worst offenders in the use of child soldiers, disregarding the recommendations of State Department experts and senior U.S. diplomats, U.S. officials said.

The decision, confirmed by three U.S. officials, would break with longstanding protocol at the State Department over how to identify offending countries and could prompt accusations the Trump administration is prioritizing security and diplomatic interests ahead of human rights.

Tillerson overruled his own staff’s assessments on the use of child soldiers in both countries and rejected the recommendation of senior diplomats in Asia and the Middle East who wanted to keep Iraq and Myanmar on the list, said the officials, who have knowledge of the internal deliberations.

Tillerson also rejected an internal State Department proposal to add Afghanistan to the list, the three U.S. officials said.

One official said the decisions appeared to have been made following pressure from the Pentagon to avoid complicating assistance to the Iraqi and Afghan militaries, close U.S. allies in the fight against Islamist militants. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Foreign militaries on the list can face sanctions including a prohibition on receiving U.S. military aid, training and U.S.-made weapons unless the White House issues a waiver.

To read the full story by Jason Szep and Matt Spetalnick on Daily News: Click Here

Skies Are The Frontline In Fight Against Human Trafficking

LONDON — Flight attendant Donna Hubbard was deeply concerned when a couple carried a boy who was sweating, lethargic and appeared to be in pain onto her flight from Honduras to Miami in October last year.

After take-off, Hubbard and her crew spoke to the man and woman separately, who gave different names and ages for the boy. Hubbard told the Thomson Reuters Foundation she was suspicious that he was being trafficked, kidnapped or even being used as a drug mule.

The pilot alerted authorities in Miami who met the boy and his companions on arrival. While unable to reveal details, a customs official later told Hubbard that she had made the “right call” and the boy had been safely intercepted by officials.

Hubbard’s actions are the kind of intervention the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recommended last week when it urged airline bosses at an international airline summit to train flight crews to help prevent human trafficking.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC policy director, told the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting: “It is not rocket science but most flight attendants spend one hour to eight hours with passengers.

“They can see the signs. It’s an invisible crime but in plain sight, you can you see it if you know what to look at.”

The skies have long been on the frontlines of the fight against human trafficking as criminal gangs transport thousands of children and vulnerable people by air each year.

To read the full story by Ed Upright  on GMA NEWS ONLINE: Click Here