Saturday, May 30, 2009

'Human trafficking on the rise in Poland since EU entrance' says UN

GENEVE– Poland’s accession to both the European Union (EU) and the Schengen zone has transformed it into both a transit and destination country for human trafficking, a United Nations independent expert said today, noting that the Eastern European nation has made progress in fighting the scourge.

The scale of trafficking was already serious in Poland, but has become aggravated in the past five years due to joining the EU and the Schengen zone, Joy Ngozi, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, said, wrapping up a six-day visit to the country.

“The endemic forms of trafficking include, but are not limited to, trafficking for labour exploitation, for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation,” she said.

According to information provided by both the Government and by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the number of trafficking cases is on the rise.

Poland has ratified key international and human rights treaties, including the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons to the 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol), under which States are required to take action to ensure the protection of trafficking victims, prevent trafficking and bring traffickers to justice.

Ms. Ngozi said that the Government has taken steps in combating the scourge through cooperation with neighbouring countries. It has amended its Criminal Code to punish perpetrators of trafficking and has a law on domestic violence in place.

Further, Poland has a comprehensive law on trafficking in human organs and tissue, “which is very forward-looking and has been enacted and is indeed a welcome development as we must ensure that all forms of trafficking are criminalized,” she added.

But the Rapporteur, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity, noted that there are other steps the country must take to effectively address human trafficking.

Poland lacks a clear definition of trafficking in its criminal law, labour exploitation is on the rise and availability and access to help for trafficking victims is limited, she said.

Additionally, judicial proceedings for trafficking cases are unduly long, lasting two years on average. “Thus, efforts should be made by the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary to shorten the period and provide early case closure that will bring succour to victims and reduce trauma suffered, while redirecting focus to victims’ full reintegration and rehabilitation,” she noted.

Original Story via UN

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Indian authorities bust human trafficking cell in New Delhi

New Delhi, May 27 : Busting a major human trafficking racket, the CBI today arrested eight persons in Mumbai for allegedly forcing minor girls from far off states and neighbouring countries into flesh trade.
The CBI, which cracked down on such a racket for the first time, also rescued 34 girls, including eight minors, who have since been rehabilitated in observation homes.

A CBI spokesperson said surprise raids were conducted at various places in Mumbai during which the racket, involving trafficking of minor girls procured from places like Assam, Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh and Bangladesh, was unearthed.

"Eight persons have been arrested so far and Rs 4.79 lakh has been recovered from them. The 34 rescued girls including eight minors have been rehabilitated in observation homes," he said.

The accused, who indulged in illegal activities in trafficking of minor girls and forced them into prostitution, were produced in the designated court at Mumbai and remanded in CBI custody upto June five.

This is the first case after the Centre gave overriding powers to the CBI under Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act of 1956. Under this law, the CBI can take suo motu action in cases of human trafficking with inter-state or international ramifications.

Published by: Deepak Rana
Published: Wed, 27 May 2009 at 20:55 IST
Original Story: SamayLive.com

12 charged in massive labor trafficking scheme based in KC

By MARK MORRIS
The Kansas City Star

Federal officials have accused 12 people and three companies of illegally luring foreign workers to the United States to work for low pay and live in substandard conditions, prosecutors announced today in Kansas City.

A federal grand jury indicted the defendants on racketeering, marriage fraud, identity theft and other counts in a scheme that involved forced labor trafficking and immigration violations in 14 states.

The enterprise — based out of companies headquartered in Kansas City, Mission and Overland Park — allegedly employed hundreds of illegal aliens as construction workers and as cleaners and housekeepers at hotels, resorts and casinos in Missouri, Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wyoming.

“The indictment alleges that this criminal enterprise lured victims to the United States under the guise of legitimate jobs and a better life, only to treat them as modern-day slaves under the threat of deportation,” said James Gibbons, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a written statement.

The employees purportedly were required to pay exorbitant prices for apartments rented by the businesses, which “ensured that the workers did not make enough to repay their debt, purchase a plane ticket home or pay their own living expenses while in the United States,” according to a statement from prosecutors.

“Many of their employees allegedly were victims of human trafficking who were coerced to work in violation of the terms of their visas without proper pay and under the threat of deportation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Whitworth. “The defendants also required them to reside together in crowded, substandard and overpriced apartments.”

Those named in the indictment, which a grand jury returned in secret on May 6, were: Abrorkhodja Askarkhodjaev, 30, Nodir Yunusov, 22, Rustamjon Shukurov, 21, citizens of Uzbekistan living in Mission; Ilkham Fazilov, 44, Nodirbek Abdoollayev, 27, both citizens of Uzbekistan living in Kansas City; Viorel Simon, 27, Alexandru Frumasache , 23, both citizens of Moldova living in Kansas City, Kan.; Kristin Dougherty, 49, of Ellisville, Mo.; Andrew Cole, 53, of St. Charles, Mo.; Abdukakhar Azizkhodjaev, 49, a citizen of Uzbekistan living in Panama City, Fla.; and Sandjar Agzamov, 27, and Jakhongir Kakhkharov, 29, both citizens of Uzbekistan who recently left the U.S.

Three companies controlled by Askarkhodjaev also were charged: Giant Labor Solutions, LLC, headquartered in Kansas City; Crystal Management, Inc., in Mission; and Five Star Cleaning, LLC, in Overland Park.

Authorities had arrested eight of the 12 defendants as of this morning, according to Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

To contact Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send e-mail to mmorris@kcstar.com.
Posted on Wed, May. 27, 2009 10:50 AM

Original Article: KansasCity.com

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Belarus making strides in combating human trafficking, UN expert finds

NEW YORK– The United Nations independent expert on human trafficking today commended Belarus – which is creeping towards becoming a source, transit and destination country for victims – for its efforts to combat the scourge.

“I am very impressed by the political commitment demonstrated at the highest level to combat all forms of trafficking in Belarus,” Joy Ngozi, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, said as she wrapped up a week-long visit to the country on 24 May.

“Trafficking in persons is a huge global problem that has turned into one of the fastest-growing criminal activities in the world today, affecting virtually every country either as source, transit and/or destination country for women, children and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual labour or labour exploitation,” she stated.

During the visit, which was carried out at the invitation of the Government, Ms. Ngozi met with senior officials and representatives of state institutions and non-governmental organizations working to combat trafficking. She also visited a shelter run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Territorial Center in the capital, Minsk, which provides a range of social assistance.

Belarus has ratified the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons to the 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol), under which States are required to take action to ensure the protection of trafficking victims, prevent trafficking and bring traffickers to justice.

The country “is on the verge of occupying the unenviable status of being a source, transit and destination country, which undoubtedly is a growing concern to the Government and hence the good leadership it has shown in this field,” the Rapporteur said.

Belarus has introduced legislation and amended its criminal code to effectively combat the scourge, while an action plan has been developed and is being implemented, she added.

A high number of cases, also resulting in a high number of convictions, are being prosecuted. “The evidence of this huge success in prosecution indicates that the trafficking problem is not only real and serious in Belarus, but also that measures are being undertaken to deal with the menace,” Ms. Ngozi noted.

She pointed out some areas in which the country could improve on this issue, such as boosting assistance to victims, ensuring that victims are not stigmatized, and addressing domestic violence which can perpetuate gender inequalities that can increase people’s vulnerability to trafficking.

The Rapporteur, who was appointed to her position last June, reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

Original Article: UN News Centre

Update: Fifth man arrested in connection with Tampa human trafficking ring

TAMPA -- Police have arrested a fifth man in connection with what authorities believe is the first human trafficking ring in the area that involved local women as victims.

The Tampa Police Department arrested 26-year-old William Chrismichael Perez at noon today on a charge of human trafficking.

Perez, of 8909 N. Dexter Ave. in Tampa, is being linked to a case currently under investigation by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the local human task force on human trafficking.

Last week, Pinellas authorities arrested Kenyatta Cornelous, 38, Edward Jones, 47, Corinna Shaffer, 24, and Colin Dyer, 36, in connection with the case.

"This is an open investigation, and more arrests are likely," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Perez is one of the alleged traffickers named in the arrest warrants of the other men linked to the case. His nickname among the group was "Puerto Rico," according to the warrant.

The warrant details how the ring lured one woman in with promises of financial help, then took her captive, repeatedly raped and beat her, then prostituted her and other women at a Pinellas County strip club. Perez is named as a member of the ring in the warrants of his alleged co-conspirators, but those documents do not disclose what his role in the ring was.

According to state records, he has previous arrests and convictions on drug charges dating back to 2001. His last arrest was in October, when Hillsborough deputies arrested him on a charge of possession of a controlled substance.

-- Kameel Stanley, Jamal Thalji, Times staff writers
Original article from TampaBay.com

Friday, May 22, 2009

'Most wanted' child trafficker arrested in China

BEIJING, May 22 (Xinhua) -- One of China's most wanted criminals has been arrested after a national search on charges connected with human trafficking, the Ministry of Public Security said here Friday.

Zhang Weizhu, a 35-year-old woman born in southwest Yunnan Province, was allegedly involved in 10 cases of child trafficking in southern Guangdong Province, said a statement on the ministry's website.

She was arrested in Zhuhai, Guangdong on Wednesday, the statement said.

Nine suspects in the same cases were arrested between February and March in Jiangmen and police rescued 11 children kidnapped by them.

Zhang was one of the top 10 most wanted suspects in human trafficking cases listed by the ministry on April 29. Two others were arrested earlier this month.

Chinese police launched a nationwide action against human trafficking of children and women in early April, which will run through this year.

According to the ministry's figures, police rescued 196 children and 214 women and broke up 72 human trafficking rings from April 9 to May 4.

Most of these crimes occurred in Guizhou, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, Henan and Shanxi Provinces.

Zhang Xinfeng, vice minister of Public Security, said in a statement on May 8 that police at all levels would continue their efforts to deal with human trafficking, an increasing social problem in China that seriously violated human rights.

The ministry also started the compilation of a nationwide DNA database by collecting blood samples from the rescued children and parents who lost their children.
Editor: Wang Guanqun 
Original Story by Xihuanet

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Few Govts Serious About Human Trafficking, U.N. Finds

By Matthew Berger

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 (IPS) - The U.N. General Assembly discussed ways of taking stronger collective action to end human trafficking on Wednesday, with delegates debating the need for and form of a "global plan of action" to end this form of modern slavery.

"National and regional efforts are not enough to cope with this global problem," said Ecuadorian Minister of Justice and Human Rights N├ęstor Arbito Chica. "That’s why we call on the U.N. to take action."

The starting point for the debate was whether the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, passed in Palermo, Italy, in 2000, is enough to stop this global problem.

"The protocol is not a sufficient tool for stopping human trafficking, and more than one-third of U.N. member states are not a party to it," said Valentin Rybakov, assistant to the president of Belarus. "The Palermo Protocol is, if you will, an aspirin which helps us to bring the fever down, but aspirin cannot cure us."

The need for a new global plan of action was echoed by the majority of speakers and delegates. The United States, however, felt otherwise: "We believe that the U.N. is already effectively leading the fight against global trafficking."

The U.S. representative’s concerns were that launching a global plan of action would strain the limited resources of the U.N. and, likewise, that the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) "financial and personnel resources would be severely stretched if it were to undertake such a plan of action."

"Efforts undertaken at regional and national levels are clearly not enough," Rybakov countered. "Adopting a global plan of action is not an end in itself to us, but this plan is a logical step."

The U.N. has passed comprehensive plans of action before - for instance on terrorism, as pointed out by Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of UNODC.

The debate took place within a broader day-long dialogue discussing multiple aspects of this global problem.

"There’s not one single decision to be taken; there are a number of attributes to be debated," he said. "This is a debate in which there is an internal debate about whether the U.N. should implement a global plan of action."

Among these issues were the need for greater awareness of the actual scope of the problem - not just its size but its characteristics and the misconceptions about them.

"We are facing a newly-recognised crime," Costa said. "We need to know what’s going on in the minds of the criminals and the clients - for example, women who victimise women, even women who are former victims themselves."

Women offenders have a more prominent role in human trafficking than in most other forms of modern-day crime, according to a report released by the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UNGIFT) in February.

Sexual exploitation accounts for 79 percent of human trafficking, it says, while forced labour makes up 18 percent. However, the exploitation of women and sexual exploitation tend also to be the more frequently documented. Consequently, forced labour, domestic servitude, organ removal, and the exploitation of children all tend to be under-reported.

"The Palermo Protocol requires governments to take action on all forms of human trafficking - sexual as well as labour exploitation," noted Zohreh Tabatabai, the International Labour Organisation director of communications.

This potential statistical bias underscores many issues in human trafficking. The same report, for instance, goes on to say, "We must, but cannot, catalogue (for lack of data) the different types of slavery."

Observations, however broad, rather than conclusions, were the emphasis throughout Wednesday’s dialogue.

"In 2006, the last year for which we have statistics, 22,000 victims were rescued, and we know the problem goes into the millions," Costa said.

Global estimates of the number of people trafficked annually range from 600,000 to four million, and that range has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, according to International Organisation for Migration deputy director general Ndioro Ndiaye.

Most of the speakers and delegates also called on countries with weak records of criminalising human trafficking to take action.

"One out of three member states have not yet ratified the Palermo Protocol and almost half of member states have not convicted anybody, though we could say it is a problem in all countries," Costa pointed out several times over the course of the day.

"In the process of our [February] report," he continued, "we found that many countries do not collect information about this crime because in many countries it is not a crime since they did not ratify the protocol."

However, Saisuree Chutikul of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women pointed out, "We have to not look just at the face-value; a lot of countries have gone on to modify domestic law. For many countries, especially in Asia, it takes a long time to ratify international protocols."

Still, though progress has been made, it is clear that criminalisation lags behind where the U.N. would like it to be. In the February report, most countries in Africa, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan are listed as having no or limited specific criminal offence for human trafficking. Other countries, including China and Somalia, are "not covered" by the report, meaning those countries did not return the questionnaire.

Human trafficking is not always transnational and is not always conducted by organised crime. While a worldwide issue, the victims and clients often come from different regions.

The report says that Europe is where victims from the widest range of origins end up and victims from Asia end up in the widest range of destinations.

The Americas are both origin and destination. Suspects in a human trafficking around Tampa Bay, Florida, were arrested last week and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reported Wednesday they have an increase in the Caribbean human trafficking cases involving Filipinos.

At the panel session Wednesday, the Filipino representative said, "Human trafficking is far worse than any form of slavery."

Original Article from IPS News

Monday, May 11, 2009

More details regarding Florida sex trafficking case emerge


By NATALIE SHEPHERD | News Channel 8
and STEPHEN THOMPSON | The Tampa Tribune

Published: May 11, 2009

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At least one of the victims in a human-trafficking case investigated by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was brought to an exotic dance club in Pinellas County, where she was forced to dance and perform sex acts, according to jail records.

The victim's name is not being printed due to the nature of the crime.

Corinna Daylene Shaffer, one of three suspects arrested Saturday in the case, drove the victim from Feb. 16 to 26 to the Vegas Showgirls Nightclub, 10570 Gandy Blvd., Shaffer's arrest affidavits say. There, the victim, under the fake name Lisa Leithead, was forced to dance and perform sex acts, the affidavits say.

Jail records say Shaffer, 24, works for Vegas Showgirls and goes by the name Lacy Dream. Attempts to elicit a comment from the club were unsuccessful today. A News Channel 8 crew was run off the property today, and calls to the club's attorney were not consummated or returned.

Shaffer took whatever money the victim earned at Vegas Showgirls and gave it to Kenyatta Cornelous, 38, the affidavits say. Cornelous was also arrested Saturday. Shaffer acted as the victim's handler, watching her continuously so she wouldn't try to escape, the affidavits say.

The victim was also raped during the 10 days in February, the affidavits say, and was told she would be killed if she told anyone.

Sheriff's investigators also arrested Edward Jones, 47. All three suspects list their address as 10214 Tarpon Drive, Treasure Island. Sheriff's detectives described it as a kind of prison for the women who were kept there and made to dance and have sex at clubs in the Tampa Bay area.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Human trafficking on the rise in East Africa

NAIROBI — Human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation is a growing problem in East Africa, the findings of a new study show.

The study, conducted by the Catholic agency, Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS), to establish the response of faith-based organizations and other actors to the vice, covered Kenya and Tanzania. The findings were published last month.

Fifty-one organizations participated in the study. In Kenya, the study was conducted in Malindi, Mobasa and Nairobi, while in Tanzania data was gathered in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

The study found that in Tanzania boys are trafficked for forced labour on farms, in mines, the fishing industry and the informal business sector. "Tanzanian girls from rural areas are trafficked to urban centres and the Island of Zanzibar for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to forced prostitution."


Tanzanian men are reportedly trafficked to South Africa for forced labour and girls are trafficked to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and possibly Europe, the report says.

Kenyan children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, street vending, agricultural labour, herding, work as bar maids, and commercial sexual exploitation. Other trafficked Kenyans end up in other African nations, the Middle East, Europe and North America.

"Employment agencies facilitate and profit from the trafficking of Kenyan nationals to Middle Eastern nations, notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon, as well as Germany."


Chinese, Indian and Pakistan women reportedly transit Nairobi en route to Europe for the sexual trade. Brothels and massage parlours in Nairobi also employ foreign women. Children are trafficked into Kenya from Rwanda, DR Congo, Ehtiopia, Uganda and Somalia.

The report blames the vice on poverty, unemployment, migration, globalization, lack of birth registration, cultural and social norms and lack of appropriate laws to deal with human trafficking.

"Tanzania has enacted a law on human trafficking that is yet to be gazetted and enforced. Kenya's efforts to develop an appropriate law have been dragging on since 2007 when NGO's passed to the [Attorney General] a recommended bill," the report says.

Original Article from AllAfrica.com

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ft. Meade soldier charged with trafficking girl from Ohio

Original Article from Captial Gazette

A Fort George G. Meade soldier lured a 16-year-old girl from Ohio to Millersville and forced her into prostitution, county police said.
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Spc. Craig Allen Corey, 22, of both Millersville and Fort Meade, was charged Monday with two counts of human trafficking, one count of operating a prostitution business and numerous drug charges. Those charges are in addition to another count of human trafficking filed in February in Baltimore County as part of an unrelated prostitution investigation there.

Corey, an active-duty supply specialist with the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Meade, is being held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center on $25,000 bond. If convicted of just one human trafficking charge, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The Anne Arundel charges stem from an April 24 raid on a Millersville apartment that was leased in Corey's name. Detectives were investigating an alleged prostitution ring that was advertising on Craigslist.com when they found a girl who had been reported missing in Ohio. That girl, who turned 17 April 24, told police Corey forced her into prostitution.

Sgt. James Fredericks, a spokesman for the department, said detectives are still actively investigating what was happening inside Corey's apartment on Millwright Court. He stressed that human trafficking charges are "very unusual" in Anne Arundel County.

"They just don't happen here," he said.

According to court documents, Corey and his girlfriend - who has not been charged with any crimes - brought the teen from Ohio to Maryland to attend a party. When they arrived in Millersville, however, there was no party and the girl said she wanted to go home.

Corey told the girl - who has known his girlfriend for about three years - that she would have to wait a week or two before she could go back to Ohio, police said. While she waited for Corey to take her home, Corey had her pose for an almost-nude photo which was posted on Craigslist, and then had her engage in prostitution, according to the charges.

The girl serviced three clients between April 21 and April 23, police said. The proceeds, however, were split between Corey and his girlfriend. The girl said she did not receive any money, police said.

The girl told police she agreed to the photo and online postings because she was afraid of being thrown out of the apartment. She told them she did it because she did not know where she was and did not have any friends or family in the area.

But the girl said she was free to leave if she could get a ride, according to charges.

According to court documents, this is not the first time a runaway from Ohio has ended up at Corey's apartment. A 19-year-old woman called her parents in January 2009 to say she that was there and that the owner would not let her leave. She said the owner disabled her vehicle.

The woman's parents, along with deputies from the county Sheriff's Department, picked up the girl at the apartment. The woman had a black eye and numerous bruises on her arms and legs, according to court documents. Deputies also said they determined someone removed a wire from her car to disable it.

That runaway, however, would not say what happened, and no charges were filed. Fredericks said county police were not informed of that incident and detectives did not investigate.

Baltimore County police charged Corey with human trafficking Feb. 24 in Baltimore County District Court during a prostitution investigation.