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Release of TIP Report 2014

By Erla Dema,

Graduate Fellow, Human Trafficking Academy

The just released 2014 Trafficking in Person Report (TIP) reflects the constructive effort and support of governments, organizations representing civil society, human rights activists, advocates, law enforcement and diplomatic corps, in struggling to combat human trafficking worldwide. The joint goal for all the interested parties and the incentive to forward the trafficking in persons cause is to be stronger than the destructive power of the criminals.

TIP Report marks a top priority action platform taking into consideration that human trafficking is among the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

Therefore with regard to the recently released TIP report Secretary of State, John Kerry highlights in the beginning of his speech emphasized that: “The Trafficking In Persons Report, June 2014, this is not just a book, it’s not just a report filled with stories that will touch you. This is a call to action. It’s a call to conscience. It is a reminder of what happens in many dark places that need light. And we have a responsibility to try to bring that light to these individuals and to these places.”

TIP Report encourages nations to tackle trafficking in persons problems from all directions and it ranks nations according to their vivid effort records throughout the year, to acknowledge human trafficking issues and to contribute in combatting them and creating of appropriate programs focused on the three P’s: prevention of trafficking, prosecution of traffickers and protection of victims.

TIP Report displays on a yearly basis the classification of countries in tiers. The tier placement elaborates the level of compliance of a certain nation with Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking. The tier division is very essential because it acknowledges the hardworking countries which make significant endeavors towards ending human trafficking, and at the same time downgrades the ones that do not meet the minimum anti-trafficking standards.

Meanwhile according to June 2014 TIP report countries like Thailand, Venezuela and Malaysia have been downgraded from the U.S. Department of State from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3, the lowest possible ranking since they have shown no serious and sustained action to fight human trafficking for the past years. These countries and the rest of Tier 3 countries are awaiting sanctions to be imposed and determined by U.S. Government and President Obama starting next fiscal year.

The complete report is available at the following link:

http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2014/

Pope Francis Firmly Committed to Combating Modern-Day Slavery

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Pope Francis Firmly Committed to Combating Modern-Day Slavery

 By: Beatriz Susana Garcia

             On November 2nd and 3rd, 2013, the world’s attention turned to the Vatican as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations invited 100 international experts of different fields in a two-day seminar discussing and analyzing the global phenomenon of human trafficking.

            According to Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the academies, this Seminar entitled “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery” was a direct initiative of His Holiness Pope Francis, who is concerned that human trafficking will become increasingly lucrative and the world’s largest criminal activity. In its 2012 report, the International Labor Organization estimated that modern slavery around the world claims 20.9 million victims at any time. This crime denies all human rights and fundamental freedoms of its victims, and the Holy Father has been deeply concerned about the issue since early on, when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pope Francis had advised the academies to engage in more research and multidisciplinary dialogue to analyze the problem and explore actions for sharing proper and practical solutions to stop this heinous crime.

            This recent focus on human trafficking is in continuation of Pope Francis’ dedication to the protection of refugees, the poor and vulnerable populations generally. This Vatican Working Group on Trafficking is an initiative of paramount importance, because human trafficking is a problem that involves all the world community at-large. Bishop Sanchez Sorondo mentioned to reporters that “some experts believe human trafficking will overtake drug and arms trafficking in a decade, becoming the most lucrative criminal activity in the world.” The trafficking crime generates billions of profits through the exploitation of women, children, adolescents and men worldwide. The participants talked about risk factors that promote human trafficking, identification and assistance to trafficked victims, and also about prosecution of traffickers. The participants set up a list of recommendations. The Vatican reported that further meetings are planned in 2014 and 2015. This is a highly commendable initiative of Pope Francis furthering effective steps towards involvement of all civil society sectors in combating human trafficking.

 

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2013 TIP Report Released

By Lazarita Chumpitazi

The U.S. Department of State recently released the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Secretary of State, John Kerry, delivered the report stating,

When we help countries to prosecute traffickers, we are strengthening the rule of law. When we bring victims out of exploitation, we are helping to create more stable and productive communities. When we stop this crime from happening in the first place, we are preventing the abuse of those who are victimized as well as the ripple effect that caused damage throughout communities into our broader environment and which corrupt our global supply chains. We all have an interest in stopping this crime…

The report is one of the U.S. State Department’s most important contributions against combating modern-day slavery and a very powerful tool in persuading nations to take action.  The TIP report describes forms of slavery in individual countries and current efforts to end them.  The countries are ranked based on whether they meet certain standards set out in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).  The TIP Report ranks a country’s anti-trafficking efforts on a three-tier scale.  Tier 1 countries are deemed to meet minimum standards in preventing human trafficking.  Tier 2 nations are making significant efforts to meet those standards, while Tier 2 Watch List countries are making such efforts but require special scrutiny.  And Tier 3 countries are making no significant efforts.

In 2008, changes made to the TVPRA mandated that nations on the Tier 2 Watch List for four straight years, without having demonstrated any progress, must be automatically downgraded to Tier 3 and face sanctions.  Sanctions may include the withholding of assistance from the United States, the World Bank, and/ or the International Monetary Fund.  However, the President is able to fully or partially waive sanctions for reasons that include U.S. national interest.

China, Russia, and Uzbekistan were all downgraded to a Tier 3 as a result of the 2008 TVPRA’s mandate and face possible sanctions.  President Obama has 90 days to decide these countries will actually be subject to sanctions.  The complete report is available for review on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Link to 2013 TIP Report http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/

VAWA 2013 Reauthorized

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President Obama signs Reauthorization of VAWA 2013

by Lazarita Chumpitazi, J.D./LL.M. candidate, Human Trafficking Academy Graduate Fellow

Historic legislation affording all women greater protections from violent relationships was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 7, 2013.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was initially enacted in 1994 in an effort to provide women with protection from domestic abuse and to ensure prosecution of the abusers.  The VAWA’s main purpose is to recognize the pervasive nature of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking among girls and women, to prohibit such conduct and to support organizations who are offering comprehensive services to those affected by these heinous crimes.

The reauthorization of VAWA has broadened these protections by adding the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 (TVPRA) in its entirety as an amendment.  The TVPRA is an essential tool that the United States uses, since the year 2000 in order to fulfill its objectives of combating human trafficking.  The United States government is able to fund investigation and prosecution of the trafficking crime, preventive efforts at home and abroad, as well as services for survivors, through the TVPRA.  The statute combats both national and international trafficking in persons, defines the penalties for trafficking, promotes interagency cooperation, and ensures international monitoring of states’ compliance with international minimum standards, contained in the TVPRA.

Other changes to the VAWA include extending tribal jurisdiction over non-Natives who commit crimes of domestic violence or sexual assault against a Native American spouse or partner, extending rights to the LGBTQ community, and to the illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, rape, and sex trafficking.  This law has helped over 2 million victims since its initial enactment.

UK’s Appalling Response to Human Trafficking

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In the News:  It Happens Here!  The UK’s Appalling Response to Human Trafficking

By Lazarita Chumpitazi, J.D., LL.M., Graduate Fellow, Human Trafficking Academy

The Center for Social Justice (CSJ) in the United Kingdom has published a report titled “It Happens Here!” describing the lack of efforts and measures against human trafficking in the country.  The CSJ is a non-partisan working group, comprising of prominent academics, practitioners, and policy makers who have expertise in the fields relevant to human trafficking.  They consult with national and international charities, social enterprises, academics, and the like who are well versed in their respective fields.

The 224-page report was written after an 18-month investigation during which a team of experts interviewed hundreds of witnesses.  The investigation found that large numbers of people, including minors, were being used for forced criminality such as benefit fraud, organized begging, forced pick-pocketing, drug cultivation, and sexual exploitation.

The CSJ expresses its shock at the lack of awareness among professionals regarding the subject. Inter alia it states:

The CSJ has been shocked at the low awareness among professionals and has seen that many are not equipped to fulfill their responsibility.  We have encountered unacceptable levels of ignorance and misidentification of victims among police, social services, the UKBA [UK Border Agency], the judicial system and others whose responsibility is to identify victims and ensure they are protected.  This is a grave hindrance to the UK’s response to the victims hidden within its communities and the traffickers who seek to exploit them.

The report outlines more than 80 recommendations, including the appointment of an independent anti-slavery commissioner in order to ensure proper political focus and new legislation to better protect victims.  The authors of this report state that the scale of the problem of human trafficking and the lack of understanding of the issue warrant major changes. A copy of the full report can be found at http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/UserStorage/pdf/Pdf%20reports/CSJ_Slavery_Full_Report_WEB%285%29.pdf.