UN Migration Agency, Polaris to Launch Global Data Repository on Human Trafficking

Vienna – Counter-trafficking specialists yesterday (05/09) announced the pre-launch of the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) at the 5th Global Compact for Migration (GCM) consultations in Vienna. The CTDC is the result of a joint initiative led by IOM, the UN Migration Agency and Polaris, an independent organization combating modern slavery. Its online portal will consist of a global repository of data on human trafficking that protects the identities of victims, and uses a new international standard.

The announcement took place at a parallel event during the GCM consultations. At the pre-launch, IOM stressed the important role of the CTDC to fill the gap in terms of publicly available data on human trafficking. Harry Cook, IOM Data Management and Research Specialist stressed that the lack of data on human trafficking and the hurdles to collect it in a harmonized manner are two main problems for the counter-trafficking movement.

The CTDC will be the first global repository of its kind and will host primary data from counter-trafficking organizations around the world, helping deepen the understanding of vulnerability-producing contexts that migrants encounter during their migration process.

“We all want counter trafficking efforts to be as effective and efficient as possible, and in order to do that, they need to be based on real information about the problem,” said Sara Crowe, Polaris’ Associate Director in charge of data systems.

The CTDC will combine datasets including over 45,000 victim records from IOM and more than 31,000 cases of human trafficking from Polaris. Global data from other organizations is expected to enrich the current repository, which will facilitate an unparalleled level of cross border, trans-agency analysis and provide the counter-trafficking movement with a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

To read the full story on International Organization For Migration: Click Here

Papal Aid Calls For Legal Migration Channels To End ‘Travesty’ Of Human Trafficking

ROME – Pope Francis’s right hand man on migration is calling for legal and secure channels to guarantee that tomorrow’s migratory movements aren’t marked by the “travesty” of human trafficking. He also urged nations to recognize the “forces of demand,” such as labor below minimum national standards that makes human trafficking “very profitable.”

Jesuit Father Michael Czerny said that the migration process often begins with “high hopes and expectations” for a better future, but that since “regular and affordable routes are generally not available, many migrants employ smugglers.”

Traffickers, he said, can “easily take advantage of the desperation of migrants and asylum seekers,” after which they end up in an irregular or undocumented status, which puts them at further risk of being exploited and enslaved.

Czerny – handpicked by Pope Francis to be Undersecretary of the Section for Migrants and Refugees at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development – was speaking at a United Nations’ Fifth Thematic Session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration on Monday.

The topic of the session is: “Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims.”

To read the full story by Inés San Martín on CRUX: Click Here

Immigrants Are Among Most Vulnerable To Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a nearly $32 billion industry and more than 27 million people are victims of the illicit business on an international scale, according to the Polaris Project, which is tasked with fighting human trafficking in its various forms.

The Administration for Children and Families, which works with the Department of Health and Human Services, estimates that human trafficking is the second fastest growing black market activity.

In 2013, the state’s Human Trafficking Policy Task Force found that immigration plays a unique role in the underground world.

“Undocumented workers are often particularly vulnerable to abuse due to their lack of immigration status and fear of deportation,” a report by the task force stated.

Additionally, many who are the victims of trafficking for forced labor or sex slavery have trouble getting the services they need.

“Other realities inherent to victims of human trafficking, such as a survivor’s criminal history, lack of housing history, and/or immigration status, may make it difficult or impossible for survivors to qualify for government services,” the agency’s report said.

New tactics are recommended to law enforcement by the agency, which encourages authorities to explain to potential victims that questions about trafficking are not intended to determine somebody’s immigration status.

New legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker at the beginning of August is aiming to allow police in Massachusetts to hand over illegal immigrants suspected of crimes, including human trafficking, to federal authorities.

To read the full story by Bradford Randall: Click Here

House Democrats Seek Answers After Ice Agents Arrest Possible Victim Of Human Trafficking

“It is simply unconscionable that ICE would target such a marginalized population,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY). (SHAWN INGLIMA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

U.S. House Democrats are looking for answers after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a Queens courthouse to arrest a woman believed to be a victim of human trafficking last month.The ICE agents made three arrests outside the Queens Criminal Courthouse and had also planned to cuff a woman from China who was being tried for sex work in a human trafficking court. At the time, she was protected by lawyers from Legal Aid who asked the judge hold her on bail to allow her to leave the courthouse.

ICE’s appearance at the courthouse drew immediate criticism from Democrats and immigration activists. But ICE’s actual policy for seeking out and arresting victims of human trafficking remains unclear. There is also no public information about the number of people served by ICE’s Victims Assistance Program, which is meant to support victims of human trafficking.

In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan, New York City’s 12 Democratic U.S. representatives demanded clarification on ICE’s policies for stalking human trafficking courts and asked for VAP data.

To read the full story by Aaron Holmes of New York Daily News: Click Here

 

Immigration Expert Predicts Human Trafficking Will Surge Under Trump

The U.S.’s anti-immigration policies and building a US/Mexico wall are set to hinder the fight against human trafficking

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Under tougher anti-immigration policies in the United States under President Donald Trump, human trafficking will “skyrocket,” a top expert warned at a conference on Tuesday.

Fear of being deported by U.S. authorities stops people from speaking up about their own or other trafficking cases, said Denise Brennan, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University.

“Policies that push migrants to live and work in the shadows make the perfect prey for abusive employers,” said Brennan, a keynote speaker at the Trust Conference/America Forum, a one-day Thomson Reuters Foundation event on the fight against slavery and trafficking.

“We cannot effectively fight trafficking when migrants fear reporting exploitation and abuse.”

Anti-immigrant rhetoric, violence and policies are on the rise around the world, in particular in the United States under Trump, who has vowed to fight illegal immigration and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, she said.

“Trafficking will skyrocket under President Trump,” she said. “Anti-immigrant policies make trafficking possible.”

Since becoming president, Trump has issued a temporary visa ban against seven Muslim-majority countries that was later blocked by federal courts, suspended a refugee program and initiated tougher deportation procedures.

LITTLE POLITICAL WILL

Up to 12 million people are estimated to be living illegally without documents in the United States.

While there are no official law enforcement statistics, in the United States nearly 32,000 cases of human trafficking have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the last decade.

“These individuals have no place to turn,” said Brennan, author of “Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States.”

“Isolation and threat of deportation are just as powerful as locking someone behind closed doors,” she said.

 

To read the full story by Ellen Wulfhorst on Thomson Reuters Foundation News: Click Here

THE DESPERATE JOURNEY OF A TRAFFICKED GIRL

It was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli. At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies. Some three thousand refugees and migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, silent and barefoot, stood nearby in rows of ten. Oil platforms glowed in the Mediterranean.

The Libyans ordered male migrants to carry the inflated boats into the water, thirty on each side. They waded in and held the boats steady as a smuggler directed other migrants to board, packing them as tightly as possible. People in the center would suffer chemical burns if the fuel leaked and mixed with water. Those straddling the sides could easily fall into the sea. Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. Several of the migrants had written phone numbers on their clothes, so that someone could call their families if their bodies washed ashore.

The smugglers knelt in the sand and prayed, then stood up and ordered the migrants to push off. One pointed to the sky. “Look at this star!” he said. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.

In one dinghy, carrying a hundred and fifty people, a Nigerian teen-ager named Blessing started to cry. She had travelled six months to get to this point, and her face was gaunt and her ribs were showing. She wondered if God had visited her mother in dreams and shown her that she was alive. The boat hit swells and people started vomiting. By dawn, Blessing had fainted. The boat was taking on water.

In recent years, tens of millions of Africans have fled areas afflicted with famine, drought, persecution, and violence. Ninety-four per cent of them remain on the continent, but each year hundreds of thousands try to make it to Europe. The Mediterranean route has also become a kind of pressure-release valve for countries affected by corruption and extreme inequality. “If not for Italy, I promise, there would be civil war in Nigeria,” a migrant told me. Last year, after Nigeria’s currency collapsed, more Nigerians crossed the sea than people of any other nationality.

The flood of migrants is not a new phenomenon, but for years the European Union had some success in slowing it. The E.U. built a series of fences in Morocco and started paying coastal African nations to keep migrants from reaching European waters. Many migrants spent years living in border countries, repeatedly trying and failing to cross. Muammar Qaddafi saw an opportunity. In 2010, he demanded that Europe pay him five billion euros per year; otherwise, he said, Libya could send so many migrants that “tomorrow Europe might no longer be European.”

To read the full story by Ben Taub on The New Yorker: Click Here

In U.S. Restaurants, Bars And Food Trucks, ‘Modern Slavery’ Persists

A new report highlights victims of human trafficking in the food industry, from farm workers to restaurant bus staff, cooks and wait staff. Some victims are exploited for both sex and labor. Juanmonino/Getty Images

They come from places like Vietnam, China, Mexico and Guatemala, lured by promises of better-paying jobs and legal immigration. Instead, they’re smuggled into the U.S., forced to work around the clock as bussers, wait staff and cooks, and housed in cramped living quarters. For this, they must pay exorbitant fees that become an insurmountable debt, even as their pay is often withheld, stolen or unfairly docked.

In restaurants, bars and food trucks across America, many workers are entrapped in a form of modern slavery. That’s according to a new report by Polaris, an organization that fights human trafficking and helps survivors.

In the report the group offers a detailed portrait of human trafficking as it occurs in the U.S., breaking it down into 25 distinct business models, from nail salons to hotel work and domestic service.

“Because human trafficking is so diverse … you can’t fight it all at once and there are no single, silver bullet solutions. You have to … fight it type by type,” Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, told reporters on a press call. “We see this report as a major breakthrough in the field.”

He called the report the largest data set on human trafficking in the U.S. ever compiled and publicly analyzed. The Polaris team analyzed 32,208 reports of human trafficking, and 10,085 reports of labor exploitation processed through its hotlines for victims between 2007 and 2016. The goal: to identify profiles of traffickers and their victims — and the methods they use to recruit and control them — across industries, in order to better thwart them.

Janet Drake, a senior assistant attorney general in Colorado who has prosecuted human trafficking cases, called the new report “a game changer.”

To read the full story by Maria Godoy on : Click Here

‘A Gift To Human Traffickers’: Report Warns Of Dangers Of Trump Immigration Policy

Study claims hardened stance on immigration leaves undocumented migrant workers at greater risk of modern slavery and human rights abuses 

Undocumented farm workers from Mexico at work on a farm in California
Undocumented labourers from Mexico at work on a farm in California. Analysts warn the new immigration policy will put such workers at greater risk of exploitation and debt. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s hardline approach to immigration has been branded a “gift to human traffickers” amid concerns that stricter deportation and border regulations will push undocumented migrant workers underground, putting them at greater risk of slavery and human rights abuses.

The new administration’s immigration policy – which hinges on the construction of a US-Mexico border wall and immediate repatriation of illegal immigrants – will force criminal networks to use more costly and potentially more dangerous trafficking routes by air and sea, say global risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft.

According to a report by the company, the controversial stance adopted by the White House towards migrant workers and immigration will be a major driver of human rights risks for business in 2017.

Developed countries are warned that human rights abuses are surfacing closer to home for western companies just as legislation strengthens and scrutiny of business practices increases.

Saket Soni, executive director of the membership organisation National Guestworkers Alliance, said the Trump administration’s new regulations will only exacerbate existing problems and proves that the US government is “part of the problem”.

“Trump’s policies are a gift to human traffickers,” said Soni. “We know firsthand what Verisk Maplecroft’s report confirms: criminalising immigrants makes them more vulnerable to forced labour, human trafficking, and modern-day slavery. Trump’s mass criminalisation will drive immigrants further into the shadows, where increasing numbers of them will face forced labour conditions.”

The report, entitled Human Rights Outlook 2017, draws on Verisk Maplecroft’s portfolio of global human rights data and its interactions with multinational companies to assess the top 10 human rights issues affecting business in the year ahead.

“The US is already classed as ‘medium risk’ in our index measuring modern slavery around the world, and the commodity risk that we’ve done shows that there are already extreme risks for migrants, including those on farms harvesting apples or citrus fruits,” said Maplecroft’s principal analyst, Alexandra Channer.

“There’s already a significant problem for undocumented workers in certain industries in the US. So the impact of these policies will be worsening an already serious issue, which we could see potentially widen to different industries, for example the transportation and hospitality sectors.”

To read the full article by Kate Hodal on The Guardian: Click Here

U.S., Asian Nations Step Up Human Trafficking Fight

President Obama and leaders of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed a new declaration Thursday to combat modern-day human slavery throughout the region. (AP Photo/S. Yulinnas, File)
President Obama and leaders of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed a new declaration Thursday to combat modern-day human slavery throughout the region. (AP Photo/S. Yulinnas, File)

The U.S. and several Asian countries are boosting their efforts to fight human trafficking and the exploitation of immigrants and refugees.

President Obama and leaders of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed a new declaration Thursday to combat modern-day human slavery throughout the region.

Obama said the leaders at the summit have “laid out a common vision for the region,” namely “an open, dynamic, economically competitive Asia Pacific that respects human rights and upholds a rule-based order.”

To support the effort, Obama announced that the U.S., through its Agency of International Development, would launch a five-year plan of action to fight human trafficking in the region that includes strengthening cross-border collaboration between “source, transit and destination countries.”

To read the full story by Susan Crabtree at The Washington Examiner: Click Here

Human Trafficking: Why Catholic Health Care Commits to the Fight

Those of us who conduct educational seminars and speak at national programs about human trafficking frequently are asked, “Why should we care?” “Why would Catholic health care become involved?” and, in the context of immigration, “What is the relationship between immigration and trafficking?”

These are the right questions, and now is the right time to lay out the answers, in the hope that others in the health care ministry will recognize the need and opt to develop their own strategies to combat human trafficking.

Read the full article by: MC Sullivan, RN, MTS, JD and Sr. Catherine O’Connor, CSB, Ph.D.: from the Catholic Health Association of the United States