Tuesday, June 28, 2011

US government releases Trafficking in Persons Report for 2011

A U.S. Government anti-slavery report published Monday throws the spotlight on countries it says are not meeting minimum anti-trafficking standards.

The U.S. State Department's Trafficking In Persons (TIP ) Report identifies countries that it says meet minimum standards, countries working towards them and countries that appear to be doing little to stop trafficking.

Each country is put into one of four grades - Tier 1, Tier 2, Two Watch and Tier Three. The United States can impose sanctions on countries in the bottom tier. (See how the countries rank)

This year, the Dominican Republic was the only country to lift itself out of the bottom tier, and the Czech Republic was the only country to slip out of the top-ranked countries.

The TIP Report cited weak prevention efforts for labor trafficking and the lack of formal steps by the Czech government to reduce demand for commercial sex acts.

It said the Dominican Republic got a higher ranking for protecting more victims and making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards laid down in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

As the report was published, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "This report is a tool and we are interested in working with countries around the world to get results."

She said one focus will be countries where anti-trafficking laws are on the books but are rarely used to convict the traffickers. (Watch Clinton explain why trafficking is "unforgiveable")

In Africa, Nigeria and Mauritius kept their Tier 1 status - the only African nations in the top rank - while Algeria, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, and Madagascar all dropped into Tier 3

In Asia, China stays on the Two Watch list while India moves off the Watch list and into Tier 2. The report credited India for law enforcement efforts but expressed concern over reports that corrupt officers facilitate sex trafficking.

CNN is seeking reaction of countries singled out for criticism. (See inside the TIP war room)
The report is compiled with the help of U.S. embassies, non-governmental organizations, aid groups and individuals who have submitted data or their own personal accounts.

It counts known cases of human trafficking in more than 175 countries, whether for commercial sex, bonded labor, child labor, involuntary domestic servitude or child soldiers.

And it tracks new legislation, prosecutions and convictions. (See how the report is compiled  using 2010 figures)

Tier 1 countries meet the minimum standards laid down in the TVPA but it does not also mean the country does not have trafficking issues or that it cannot improve beyond the minimum.
Tier 2 countries don't fully comply with the minimum standards but are often seen as making significant progress.
Tier 2 Watch countries have fallen short of the legislation's minimum standards despite making "significant efforts." It includes countries with high numbers of victims of severe forms of human trafficking.
Tier 3 countries do not appear to be trying to reach the minimum standard - and they could face limited U.S. sanctions.

The report also honors as heroes 10 people around the world who are trying to stamp out human trafficking.

They include Amela Efendic, who works with trafficking victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Charimaya Tamang, a former sex slave who now runs an anti-trafficking organization in Nepal; and Dilcya Garcia, who has pioneered human trafficking prosecutions in Mexico.

Original article from CNN.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Former Human Trafficking Victim Granted Clemency

A woman who was 16 when she ambushed and killed her former pimp in a Southern California motel room has been granted clemency by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his last full day in office.

Sara Kruzan, now 32, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for the 1994 shooting death of George Gilbert Howard.

Prosecutors said Kruzan was no longer working for Howard when she killed him.

Calling her life sentence "excessive", Mr Schwarzenegger commuted Kruzan's sentence to 25 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Her clemency petition cited years of abuse and psychiatric reports saying she suffered from battered women's syndrome.

Mr Schwarzenegger also commuted the manslaughter sentence of Esteban Nunez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.

Saying that he thought the 16-year prison sentence Esteban Nunez was serving was "excessive" the governor reduced his sentence from 16 years to seven years.

Nunez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon for his role in a fight that killed a 22-year-old man near San Diego State University in 2008.

Prosecutors said Nunez and friends went looking for a fight after they were refused entry to a fraternity party.

Original Article from: Copyright © 2011 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

CA Governor signs into law new anti-human trafficking legislation

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today he has signed SB 657by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) to help eliminate slavery and human trafficking from product supply chains.

“Human trafficking is a terrible crime that goes against basic human rights and everything our country stands for,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am proud that in California, we have enacted some of the toughest laws to punish human traffickers and protect their victims. This legislation will increase transparency, allow consumers to make better, more informed choices and motivate businesses to ensure humane practices throughout the supply chain.”

SB 657 requires major retail sellers and manufacturers doing business in California to disclose their voluntary efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from its direct supply chain for tangible goods offered for sale.

The Governor has long been committed to eliminating the practice of human trafficking and providing protections for victims of illegal trafficking in California, including:

  • Signing AB 17 to increase financial penalties on those convicted of human trafficking by 400 percent and allow law enforcement to seize assets connected to traffickers, which can greatly increase the financial loss for traffickers. Half of what is collected in fines and seizures will also be made available to community-based organizations that serve underage victims of human trafficking.
  • Enacting legislation to establish human trafficking as a crime and increasing the severity of punishment for those that commit or benefit from this crime. One of the bills, AB 22, made human trafficking in California a felony punishable by up to eight years in state prison.
  • Signing legislation to grant further rights to victims of human trafficking and establishing a pilot program to provide standardized training curricula on the sexual exploitation of minors.
  • Enacting AB 1278 which prohibits contracts that siphon future wages in exchange for the costs of transporting an individual to the U.S.
  • Signing a joint statement in 2006 with then-Mexican President Vicente Fox committing to cooperate on border security solutions including combating human trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Signing SB 1569 to extend crucial support services like Medi-Cal and Healthy Families to victims of human trafficking.  
  • Urging greater cooperation among U.S.-Mexico Border States at the XXVI Annual Border Governor’s Conference to put a stop to this human rights violation and increase awareness through a policy forum hosted by First Lady Maria Shriver, entitled "Human Trafficking...A Unified Call to Action." The forum featured experts from the U.S. and Mexico, including leaders in the fields of law enforcement, international human rights, victim assistance and human trafficking survivors who discussed the impact human trafficking has had on the border region and the collaborative solutions needed to fight it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chinese making huge strides in fighting human trafficking

Beijing – Chinese police freed as of 6 September 10,621 women and 5,896 children abducted for human trafficking since the Public Security Ministry launched a crackdown in April last year. Nationwide, police broke up 2,398 human trafficking gangs and arrested 15.673 suspects, state news agency Xinhua reported.
In order to make it easier to find victims and reunite them with their family, police also set up a database that collects DNA samples of victims and their parents. So far, the database has helped 813 children find their biological parents through DNA matching, the Ministry said.

China’s zero tolerance policy has led to a heavy crackdown on traffickers. Between January and July, 1,238 people were sentenced to either death, life in prison or at least five years in prison, a spokesperson for the Supreme People's Court said. This is 75 per cent more than last year. However, media reports have not indicated how the crackdown has affected the overall problem.

In recent years, media have reported cases involving the abduction of children and the mentally disabled, eventually forced to work, especially in the brick making industry, after being abducted. Police have freed hundreds of such slaves and determined that their captivity was the result of collusion between businesses and local authorities.

Another widespread form of human trafficking is the buying and selling of newborn children, especially for young couples or childless older couples.

In August, Yang Dong, deputy chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, told that the China Daily that between 30,000 to 60,000 children are reported missing every year, but that it is hard to estimate how many of them are trafficking cases.

The situation is especially troubling for the children of migrant workers, who are often handed over to relatives when parents work far from home or even forced to live alone.

Original Story from SperoNews.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

Human trafficking ring busted in Los Angeles

BALDWIN PARK -- Police have arrested two men accused of human trafficking after 36 suspected illegal immigrants were found inside a Baldwin Park house believed to have been used as a holding cell.

At around 7:00 p.m., officers form the Baldwin Park Police Department say they received a call from an alarmed man claiming to be an illegal immigrant being held against his will.

Arriving officers saw several suspects fleeing the home in the 5000 block of La Rica Road in Baldwin Park.

After an investigation, officers discovered several men, women and one child being held inside the home.

Police believe they had been in the residence for up to one month.

They were smuggled into the country illegally from Mexico and Central America and were being held until family members paid a certain sum of money, Lt. David Reynoso said.

Image from KTLA.com showing officers outside of slave home

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nail salons front for human trafficking in Ohio

What is described as a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking scheme is operating out of nail salons in Ohio, with immigrants from Southeast Asia - many of them illegal - being forced to work as "indentured servants" in exchange for passage to the U.S.

Kevin L. Miller, executive director of the Ohio Board of Cosmetology, said he expects "indictments and arrests" statewide in the next 60 days or so. State and local law-enforcement agencies, the FBI, Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are investigating, he said.

The legal problems involve human trafficking, illegal immigration, identify theft, fraudulent license testing and potential national security threats, said Miller, who added that he could not provide specifics because of the ongoing investigation.

The matter came up at yesterday's meeting of the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, convened by Attorney General Richard Cordray.

"It's a huge concern in most jurisdictions around the state of Ohio," Cordray said.

The cosmetology board annually licenses 145,000 people who work in nail shops, hair salons and tanning parlors.

"We're talking just in the state of Ohio about thousands of people who have fraudulently got their licenses," Miller said.

He told the commission that immigrants from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, often brought illegally to the U.S. for a price, are given "laundered" false identities, including fake high-school diplomas, driver's licenses, immigration papers and other documents.

The employee then becomes an "indentured servant," working for the employer for two years for little or sometimes no money to pay off their debt. Often, the employees are required to live on the premises. The agency documented one case where 16 licensees lived at the same address.

Neither Miller nor Cordray commented specifically about homeland security issues. However, in his report to the commission, Miller referred by means of background to Najibullah Zazi, an al-Qaida operative who plotted to blow up New York subway stations using chemicals found in nail polish remover and hair dye.

The problem of illegal immigrants working in nail salons has cropped up in the past in Ohio and nationwide, but little has been done.

"It's easy to hide in plain sight," Miller said. "If they can get a driver's license, an address, a place where they went to school, they're all set."

The human-trafficking commission also discussed the need for more training for Ohio law-enforcement agencies. A majority of agencies which responded to a 2009 survey doubted their ability to recognize signs of human and labor trafficking; all wanted more training.

Lt. Matt Warren, head of the State Highway Patrol's criminal intelligence unit and a member of the human-trafficking panel, cited two cases in 2009 when training paid off in rescuing underage girls who were likely to become trafficking victims.

He said a trooper stopped an Idaho trucker for speeding near Athens last year and was suspicious about the 17-year-old girl in the passenger seat. Trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking, the trooper began asking questions and found the trucker was a sex offender who met the mentally challenged teenager online, picked her up in Marion and was transporting her when he was stopped for the traffic violation.

Similarly, a seemingly routine stop rescued a 17-year-old Detroit girl who was being trafficked at truck stops in the Lima and Dayton areas.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

UK says 2,600 women trafficked to brothels

(Reuters) - Almost 10 percent of women working in brothels in England and Wales are migrants who are victims of human trafficking and come mainly from Asia, police said on Wednesday.

A report by the Association of Chief Police Officers into the sexual exploitation of foreign nationals found that 17,000 of the 30,000 women who worked in brothels or other similar premises were migrants

Of these, 2,600 were deemed to have been trafficked, with 2,200 originally from Asia, mainly China. A further 9,200 women were considered to be vulnerable and who might be further victims of trafficking.
The "Setting the Record" report was the result of a year-long study titled Project Acumen, commissioned by ACPO to discover the true extent of trafficking in "off-street prostitution."

"It provides us with a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of how migrant women are involved in prostitution -- how they are influenced, controlled, coerced, exploited and trafficked," said Deputy Chief Constable Chris Eyre.

The government said that in order to tackle the issue it was important they had a better understanding of the problem.

"Human trafficking is a brutal form of organised crime where people are traded as commodities and exploited for profit by criminal gangs," said Immigration Minister Damian Green

"Having any number of people trafficked into the UK is unacceptable, therefore it is vital that we use Acumen to re-focus our efforts both at targeting the criminal gangs that trade in this human misery and in helping victims escape and recover from their ordeal."

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)