UN Secretary General: Human Trafficking Not Taken Seriously

(CNSNews.com) – Speaking at a modern day slavery event at the United Nations hosted by the UK, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that “decision makers around the world” don’t take the problem of human trafficking seriously.

“Why were we able to arrest drug lords but not lords of human trafficking? If I want to be cynical, I can justify it. When I was in government, I thought that my children could be victims of drugs but never thought they could be victims of human trafficking. That’s probably why decision makers around the world never took this problem seriously,” he said.

“I must say that in my youth, I thought that slavery as such had disappeared from the world and that those not-so-fantastic pages of our history were lost. The truth is that we are seeing today dramatic new forms of force labor, human trafficking, and modern slavery,” he said.

Human trafficking is “a multinational industry,” Guterres said, “with people being taken from one place in the world, moving through other countries, and finally ending up in other places where they are submitted to forms of modern slavery, with financial and logistical mechanisms that need a very solid organization, which means we are dealing with multinationals of crime and with powerful people.”

Guterres pledged his “full support” to the UK’s initiative to end modern slavery and to committed do everything he could “to mobilize the UN and its different bodies.”

“We need to mobilize people and make them understand that the human suffering associated with these situations is absolutely unbearable, and the criminal nature of those handling these activities is absolutely unacceptable in the modern world,” he said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who hosted the event, said they had “a long way to go” to end “forced labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking by 2030.”

To read the full story by Melanie After, on CNS News: Click Here

Human Trafficking: Ohio Looks Beyond Traditional Law Enforcement


According to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s “Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Report” released in January, there are at least an estimated 3,000 minors at-risk for human trafficking in the state of Ohio.

Human trafficking is defined on the Human Trafficking Task Force website, www.humantrafficking.ohio.gov, as a form of modern-day slavery in which criminals profit from the control and exploitations of others. Trafficking takes place in one of two forms: labor trafficking — compelling people to provide labor or services; and sex trafficking — forcing individuals to perform commercial sex acts.

“Both use force, fear and coercion to keep victims working against their will,” according to a news release. “Both types occur in Ohio.”

In 2015, Ohio ranked fourth in the nation for calls for the numbers of human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline number. In 2012, Ohio ranked 11th in the nation, according to the governor’s task force report.

“Over the last several years, Ohio’s calls to the national hotline have increased. More specifically, 4.8 percent (1,066 calls) of the total calls made to the national hotline came from Ohio in 2015, compared with 3.4 percent (459 calls) of the total in 2012,” the report stated.

To read the full story by Kristi Garabrandt on The News-Herald: Click Here

Teaching Medical Workers To Recognize And Help Human Trafficking Victims

A medical worker listens as Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, who oversees a sex-trafficking intervention and research program at Arizona State University, discusses warning signs so health care workers can help victims. (Photo by Tanner Stechnij/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Phoenix has been identified by the Department of Justice as a major human trafficking destination but a local hospital is training health care workers to spot and help the men and women who have fallen victim to prostitution.

 Personal accounts, prevention measure and treatment methods were part of a September training at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Holly Gibbs survived sex trafficking as a teenager.

“At the age of 14, a man in a shopping mall convinced me to run away from home to become a model or musician. In reality, what he did was he forced me into prostitution in Atlantic City, New Jersey,” said Gibbs, Dignity Health’s Human Trafficking Response program director. “I was trafficked for two nights before I was recovered by law enforcement.”

Watching for victims of fear, violence

Gibbs and other seminar speakers told health care workers to watch for physical and psychological signs of human trafficking.

“There are so many red flags that can indicate sex or labor trafficking,” Gibbs said. “Anything from physical assault, sexual assault to signs of bruising in various stages of healing.”

To read the full story by Tanner Stechnij on Cronkite News: Click Here

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

UC Berkeley Graduate Student Fights Human Trafficking Through Algorithms

Rebecca Portnoff, a doctoral candidate in the UC Berkeley School of Engineering, developed two algorithms aimed to scan through online sex advertisements and find human trafficking circles.

Portnoff presented her dissertation findings Wednesday at KDD 2017, a data science conference in Canada. The algorithms look through sex advertisements on Backpage, an online classified advertisements site, to find human traffickers, according to Portnoff. There is a difference, she added, between sex advertisements that are consensual and those that are related to human trafficking.

“This idea of being able to group together ads by their true owner — the underlying issue is that we would like to help law enforcement prioritize their focus,” Portnoff said. “They want to focus on people who do not choose and who are being forcibly trafficked.

She worked with four other researchers to write a paper about these algorithms, including professor Damon McCoy at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. McCoy said the first algorithm links advertisements to a single writer using stylometry, which is the study of people’s writing styles.

To read the full story by Malini Ramaiyer on The Daily Californian: Click Here

INHUMAN TRADE: Labor Trafficking Hidden in Massachusetts Communities

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third installment in a series of stories exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts. The series delves into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims’ tales of survival.

Three years ago, a couple from Brazil moved to Massachusetts with their young child and took jobs with a cleaning company in New Bedford.

Instead of building their piece of the American Dream, however, they soon found themselves in a nightmare, according to prosecutors. Their employer, according to a criminal indictment, forced them to work up to 100 hours a week, cleaning banks, car dealerships, stores and other businesses in Bridgewater, Fall River, Marshfield and Cape Cod.

DMS Cleaning Services owner Donny Sousa, prosecutors allege, had recruited the couple to move from Brazil, promising them $3,000 in monthly wages. Instead, they said, he failed to deliver the promised pay and intimidated them into working for the company, threatening them with a handgun when they asked for their wages. In the 15 months the couple worked for DMS before fleeing, prosecutors say they were paid just $3,600 and had only three days off.

A grand jury indicted Sousa last October on human trafficking, weapons, wage theft and forced labor charges. Sousa has pleaded not guilty and is due back in Bristol Superior Court for a Sept. 6 status hearing.

It’s one of the few examples of labor exploitation cases being prosecuted under the state’s 2011 human trafficking law, which has been most frequently applied to cases of sex trafficking.

While most human trafficking cases in Massachusetts involve the illicit sex trade, labor trafficking and commercial exploitation remain a problem, especially in the immigrant community, said Julie Dahlstrom, a clinical associate professor of law at Boston University and director of the school’s Immigrants Rights and Human Trafficking Program.

“We don’t have accurate statistics around this problem,” Dahlstrom said. “Anecdotally, what we’ve seen is largely non-citizens subject to labor trafficking, although it does sometimes impact citizens.”

To read the full story by Gerry Tuoti on The Milford Daily News: 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

Four Dangerous Assumptions About Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is subject to complicated legal definitions, but the essence of this crime is straightforward: a person who is trapped in a situation of economic exploitation from which they cannot escape is very likely a victim of trafficking. Someone involved in moving that person into exploitation, or keeping them there against their will, is very likely a trafficker.

The forms it takes are as varied as the potential for profit. Women, men and children are trapped on farms, fishing boats and construction sites; in factories, mines, restaurant kitchens and private households. They are coerced into fighting wars, giving up their organs, marrying into servitude, or acting as commercial surrogates.

Long banished to the outer edges of the human rights agenda, trafficking (or “modern slavery” as advocates prefer) has emerged as a major issue of concern. Each of the past four US presidents, right up to the incumbent, has loudly proclaimed his personal commitment to ending this scourge – as have religious leaderscelebrities and some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. In a radical shift of the legal landscape, the overwhelming majority of countries have, over the past decade, criminalised trafficking. Funding for programmes aimed at fighting trafficking has never been more abundant. At the international level, the issue has been taken up by the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The Sustainable Development Goals commit states to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking”.

But progress against human exploitation has been painfully slow, despite the vast investment of political capital, resources and expertise. In trying to work out what has gone wrong – and what we could be doing differently – it is useful to critically examine some of the basic assumptions on which the anti-trafficking movement is built.

Assumption 1: We’ve got the numbers


The hunger for hard data – especially around the number of victims and the profits being generated – is intense and increasing. That is understandable. In our metrics-obsessed world, Bill Gates’ assertion, ”If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist”, rings unsettlingly true. Without being able to paint a clear picture of the size of the trafficking problem, it is difficult to attract attention, to solicit money, to show how well we are doing. Few public figures speaking on this issue have resisted the temptation to cite trafficking statistics that are at best unverifiable and at worst demonstrably false. The anti-trafficking community as a whole has been unconscionably silent about the shoddy research methodologies that regularly produce the wildly varying numbers on which it so heavily relies.

To read the full story by Anne Gallagher on World Economic Forum: Click Here

Follow The Bitcoin To Find Victims Of Human Trafficking


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of university researchers has devised the first automated techniques to identify ads potentially tied to human trafficking rings and link them to public information from Bitcoin – the primary payment method for online sex ads.

This is the first step toward developing a suite of freely available tools to help police and nonprofit institutions identify victims of sexual exploitation, explained the computer scientists from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering; University of California, Berkeley; and University of California, San Diego.

Human trafficking is a widespread social problem, with an estimated 4.5 million people forced into sexual exploitation, according to the International Labor Organization. In 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to the group were probably sex-trafficking victims.

The Internet has enabled and emboldened human traffickers to advertise sexual services. Law enforcement efforts to trace and disband human trafficking rings are often confounded by the pseudonymous nature of adult ads and the tendency of ring leaders to employ multiple phone numbers and email addresses to avoid detection. Adding to the difficulty: Determining which online ads reflect willing participants in the sex trade and which reflect victims forced into prostitution.

To read the full story on Tech Xplore: Click Here