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Global Human Trafficking Background Presentation and Materials April 25, 2007. Presented by: Arthur Winter* 1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 100 Evanston, Illinois 60201 Phone: (847) 492-5400 Fax: (847) 492-5444 E-Mail: email@example.com
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1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 100
Evanston, Illinois 60201
Phone: (847) 492-5400
Fax: (847) 492-5444
*Note: this powerpoint was updated after the original conference.
The trafficking of persons is a heinous international crime and, as unimaginable as it seems, slavery and bondage still persist in the 21st Century. The global magnitude is staggering, with millions around the world suffering in silence in situations of forced labor and sexual exploitation. According to a recent U.S. Government estimate, 800,000 to 900,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year and between 18,000 and 20,000 of those victims are trafficked into the United States. The nature of this crime is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time. It is, as the International Labor Organization points out, the "underside of globalization."
Human trafficking is a human rights violation and a crime. Trafficking exists on a continuum of exploitation. The exploitation must include FORCE, FRAUD or COERSION to qualify as “trafficking” under U.S. law. Traffickers use deception combined with threats, intimidation and violence to force victims to engage in sex acts or to labor under conditions comparable to slavery for the traffickers’ financial gain.
Many governments deny this problem exists in their own country. The law often punishes victims rather than perpetrators. Local authorities are sometimes complicit in the trade.
Advocacy efforts have only recently placed trafficking on the radar screen of governments, multilateral organizations and the public. To date, the majority of these efforts have focused on the female victims of sex trafficking. Educational campaigns, including TV and radio spots, are just beginning to alert people to this problem and warn potential victims. Legislation in many countries remains inadequate. Support centers and networks for victims remain few and underfunded. And all of these efforts need to better represent the plight of all victims of trafficking and all forms of trafficking.
Very difficult to estimate the extent of human trafficking and human smuggling, though generally agreed that both are increasing
Statistics vary widely, but no doubt in the millions
Human trafficking and human smuggling are not the same thing, though some voluntary human smuggling ends up as deadly
Some human smuggling operations are more analogous to travel agencies than slave traders, offering guarantees of successful entry and work
But still illegal, and ripe with the opportunity to coerce a migrant who starts the journey eagerly
Poverty and desire for a better life. Most trafficked persons are first and foremost migrants, seeking economic, political and social opportunities away from home, who are first deceived, then coerced after they are in transit.
Ignorance of trafficking’s existence
Most victims and their families are relatively unaware of dangers compared to the lure of “success stories”
Disruption of traditional societies’ rhythms
Low status of women and girls in many societies
Ethnic minorities and lower-class groups particularly unprotected
Women, children and men are trafficked into the
international sex trade and into forced labor situation throughout the world. The majority of persons are trafficked for labor.
Migrants deceived while seeking the living standards of developed countries or escaping political persecution
Persons kidnapped rather than deceived
Children sold by parents or guardians
See the New York Times November 13, 2003 article “A Son for a TV”, but is this more myth than reality? (Are the children “sold” or do parents think the employment agent will find child good work and “payment” is an advance on first month’s earnings/remittance and evidence that job will be procured? Some of both, probably.)
Traffickers may be freelancers or members of organized criminal networks. Some of the participants in human trafficking include:
Debt Collectors help collect the smuggling fees from migrants once they have reached transit or destination countries, often by means of violence or extortion.
Corrupt Public Officials provide trafficking organizations with fake documents and other means to allow illegal migrants passage across the borders of their countries. They also “look the other way” with respect to the exploitative activities in which traffickers have their victims engage and with respect to the violence inflicted upon victims.
Money Launderers cover up the trail of cash, which may be reinvested in additional criminal activities or legal enterprises.
Supporting Personnel are individuals hired to perform specific tasks such as providing accommodations or assistance to migrants in transit. They have no specific attachment to the trafficking organization and are often local people employed on a for-hire basis.
From Wide Angle Documentary – Dying To Leave (Handbook: The Business of Trafficking)
Trafficking brutalizes men, women and children, exposing them to rape, torture, and to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted and infectious diseases, violence, dangerous working conditions, poor nutrition, and drug and alcohol addiction. Severe psychological trauma from separation, coercion, sexual abuse, and depression often leads to a life of crime, drug and alcohol addition, and sexual violence.
See the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report for a description of other adverse global effects of international trafficking, including:
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the “Act” or the “VTVPA”) was enacted by the United States in October 2000 and to combat human trafficking by ensuring the effective punishment of traffickers and enhancing protection for victims.
The Act required the State Department to submit an annual report to Congress on the status of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
The Act is an outstanding example of lawmakers working together across party and ideological boundaries to do something important and worthwhile.
See the biographies in your folder from the Almanac of American Politics of the main sponsors of the bills that became the Act at Tab 7.
The Act defines “severe form of trafficking in persons” as:
Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
The Department of State first determines whether or not a country is a country of origin, transit, or destination for a significant number of victims of severe forms of trafficking. A country must have a minimum of 100 publicly recorded/reported cases or incidents of trafficking to warrant being “tiered.”
In making this determination, the Office requires credible reporting based on information obtained from U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, foreign embassies in Washington, D.C., non-governmental and international organizations working on human rights and trafficking issues, foreign government officials, journalists, academics, and victims. Some international critics argue for more objective data.
The U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (the “Office” or “G/TIP”) Annual Report
The “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” are summarized as follows. Governments should:
1. Prohibit trafficking and punish acts of trafficking;
2. Prescribe punishment commensurate with that for grave crimes, such as forcible sexual assault, for the knowing commission of trafficking in some of its most reprehensible forms (trafficking for sexual purposes, involving rape or kidnapping, or that causes a death);
3. Prescribe punishment that is sufficiently stringent to deter and that adequately reflects the offence’s heinous nature for the knowing commission of any act of trafficking;
4. Make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate trafficking.
The Act also sets out seven criteria that “should be considered as indication of “serious and sustained efforts to eliminate trafficking”:
Whether the government vigorously investigates and prosecutes acts of trafficking within its territory.
Whether the government protects victims of trafficking, encourages victims’ assistance in investigation and prosecution, provides victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they would face retribution or hardship, and ensures that victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked.
Whether the government has adopted measures, such as public education, to prevent trafficking.
Whether the government cooperates with other governments to investigate and prosecute trafficking.
Whether the government extradites persons charged with trafficking as it does with other serious crimes.
Whether the government monitors immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking, and whether law enforcement agencies respond appropriately to such evidence.
Whether the government vigorously investigates and prosecutes public officials who participate in or facilitate trafficking, and takes all appropriate measures against officials who condone trafficking.
How does society prevent and suppress trafficking without further harming the victims?
The strategies to combat human trafficking can be divided into the “three P’s”: prevention, protection and prosecution.
Many NGO’s now emphasize the “Two R’s”: rescue and rehabilitation
Special Note: Demand Minimization
Attention to date has mostly focused on the “supply side”: victims’ recruitment, transport and exploitation, rather than the demand factors; that is, the people and organizations that benefit from human trafficking.
In the 2008 round of the TIP report, country tier system will be decided in part based on evidence of their reducing demand.
International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul Law School October 2003 Conference focused on demand minimization
Global development of prostitute rights groups as agents for attacking demand side?
Note: Human trafficking also exists within countries (that is, not cross-border), and many of the strategies to combat international human trafficking are also effective against this exploitation as well.
The following strategies will often be predominantly (but not exclusively) source-country focused, and include:
The following strategies involve intervention in source, transit and destination countries, and include:
Care and support activities
For trafficked persons who return home
Residential care and vocational training for those who cannot return home
For HIV-positive victims
Brothel-based rescue of sex exploitation victims
International Justice Mission’s efforts (controversial but well-publicized)
Legal assistance for trafficked persons
Health assistance for trafficked persons
Save the Children and others have recently called for greater medical assistance and public health attention, minimum standards and protocols for victims of trafficking
Note: In the United States, there is a critical shortage of safe and appropriate housing for victims awaiting trial, T visas or certification of trafficking victim status. See, the “Transitional Housing Toolkit,” available as a resource and downloadable from:
The following strategies also involve source, transit and destination countries, though as a practical matter are disproportionately utilizable in destination countries, and include:
Pressure countries to adopt and enforce effective anti-trafficking legislation. Victims often deny needing help because they are scared, manipulated or intimated.
Severe Punishment -- See the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s “minimum standards” highlighted in slides 13-14
Raise public awareness and exert political pressure to train more police to recognize/address trafficking and prosecutors to prioritize these cases.
Fund the training of police and prosecutors to recognize trafficking, gather evidence effectively and develop cases; and assist the U.S. Department of State in compiling its annual report.
Withhold deportation/legalize trafficking victims willing to testify against traffickers
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act has provisions which do this.
Dying To Leave says at the time that documentary was made 12 of 63 victims in Colombia who testified against traffickers had disappeared.
Two prevalent ideological positions today in the anti-trafficking debate:
The Abolitionists, for example the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (“CATW”), who work internationally to combat sexual exploitation in all forms, especially prostitution and trafficking in women and children.
The “Self-Determination” School, for example, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (“GAATW”), which argues against abolition and criminalization of prostitution, distinguishes between forced and voluntary prostitution and advocates rights to women’s self-determination, denouncing “the repressive uses of anti-trafficking conventions and legislation… that criminalize and stigmatize women who migrate to work in informal work sectors such as domestic work, marriage and sex work.”
See the film Dirty Pretty Things and New York Review of Books October 23, 2003 article regarding organ trafficking
See People magazine January 19, 2004 article, “Whose Kids Are They?”, regarding human trafficking in an adoption context
More recommended readings can be found and selected from: http://www.phi-ngo.org/pubs/recommended.cfm