HEADLINES: Trafficking

Published On: Donate

button_icon_trafficking_headlinesIn conjunction with President Obama declaring January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Department of Defense (DOD) has heightened its anti-trafficking efforts with its “demand-reduction and prevention program.”  The program includes training modules to educate DOD employees on identifying and preventing human trafficking. Linda Dixon, the DOD program manager for combating trafficking, said, “There’s an education process that’s taking place, not only with people in general, but with our law enforcement, to recognize it, understand and know that it is a chargeable offense.  It is a danger to our troops.  It’s a danger to national security.” Eliminating trafficking in government contracting was one of the emphases in Obama’s anti-trafficking plan announced late last year.  [AlbanyTribune]

In response to its growing status as a major transit hub for human trafficking, Atlanta has poured millions of dollars into anti-trafficking efforts in the city.  Now, over 12 years since the passage of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act, it is hard to see if progress has been made, as statistics are scarce. According to an initial report by the U.S. Department of Justice, it can even be difficult to determine who the victims are and how they are being trafficked. An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that the Atlanta Police Department project is an example of how government officials have charged unto the fight against human trafficking without a clear sense of who is being exploited and how. Lack of data and understanding may be the biggest hindrance in the fight against trafficking, yet “a better understanding remains years into the future,” said Northeastern professor and human trafficking expert Amy Farrell, “It’s going to be a decade for us to have good data, if we ever have good data.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

In a case before the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, a group of 350 federal guest-workers won a $4.5 million settlement for being financially exploited. The plaintiffs of the case, Nunang Tanedo v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, argued that the defendants had violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as “recruited teachers paid $16,000 into the placement program, much of which was covered by private lenders.  Additional fees followed with the threat of being sent back to the Philippines.”  This case is notable as a new precedent for “financial practices in recruitment labor, as it presents financial tethers as a means to induce slave-like labor practices.”  [IVN]

In Florida, the anti-trafficking Safe Harbor Act went into effect on New Year’s Day.  The act is meant to protect children who have been trafficked into sex slavery and are living in fear of law enforcement.  The act “allows children who are rescued from prostitution to get help from child welfare professionals instead of being placed in juvenile delinquency.”  The Florida Department of Children and Families has investigated 1,266 cases of alleged sex trafficking of children.  Florida is the third highest trafficking destination in the country, and half of all victims are children. [WCTV]

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