Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Google donates $11.5 million to combat slavery

At the end of each year Google makes a series of donations to organizations and causes. This year they are giving one of their largest gifts ever in the tune of $11.5 million to fight modern-slavery. This is also the largest ever corporate grant given towards anti-trafficking efforts.

"Many people are surprised to learn there are more people trapped in slavery today than any time in history," said Jacquelline Fuller, director of charitable giving and advocacy for Google. "The good news is that there are solutions."

The International Justice Mission was chosen by Google to lead the efforts with this grant. Personally, I think they made a great choice. Earlier this year I had the chance to attend an IJM dinner in Dallas and meet Gary Haugen, President of the International Justice Mission.  They are an effective, caring and diligent organization that will use the funds properly. Google did their homework.

The International Justice Mission will partner with the Polaris Project, Slavery Footprint and a handful of other NGO's in a multi-year effort to rescue those enslaved.

Here is how IJM President Gary Haugen said the money will be used.

  • $3.5 million intervention project to fight forced labor in India.
  • $4.5 million advocacy campaign in India to educate and protect the vulnerable.
  • $1.8 million plan to mobilize Americans in behalf of slavery in the United States and around the world.
  • Remaining $1.7 million to be distributed to several smaller organizations combating slavery.
"It's hard for most Americans to believe that slavery and human trafficking are still massive problems in our world," said Haugen. "Google's support now makes it possible for IJM to join forces with two other leading organizations so we can bring to bear our unique strengths in a united front."

The organizations leading these efforts will meet Wednesday in Washington D.C. to begin the new initiative. Focuses within the U.S. will aim at helping Americans understand where and how modern-slavery occurs and things that everyday Americans can do to prevent it, such as knowing where their clothing and goods come from, understanding signs of human trafficking and reporting to the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-3737-888, which is part of the Polaris Project. 

"Whether it's by calling the national human trafficking hotline, sending a letter to their senator, or using online advocacy tools, millions of Americans will be able to use their voices to ensure that ending this problem becomes a top priority," said Bradley Myles, executive director of Polaris Project.

"Having a company like Google recognize the value of our work marks a major turning point for the anti-slavery movement," said Justin Dillon, founder of Slavery Footprint. His organization provides consumers tools to determine whether slavery is found in the supply chain of products and makes efforts to help companies and consumers remove slavery from supply chains. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Trafficking in Persons Report 2011: Truth, Trends, and Tier Rankings

Luis CdeBaca
Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Statement Before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, DC
October 27, 2011

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Congressman Payne, and all the members of this committee for the opportunity to testify today. As Congress continues to deliberate this year’s reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, hearings such as this one are helpful opportunities to discuss the global fight against human trafficking, and in particular one of our government’s most important tools in moving that fight forward, the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
The TIP Report assesses government action around the world against trafficking in persons—that is, all of the activities involved in reducing someone to, or holding them in, a condition of compelled service. The core of this Report is the set of Congressionally-established minimum standards set forth in the TVPA. These standards reflect the definitions and framework to combat trafficking in persons outlined in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, known also as the Palermo Protocol.
Following Congress’s mandate, the Department of State ranks governments around the world according to these standards and determines a tier ranking based on a government’s progress in meeting those standards. The Reportcomprises those rankings as well as individual country narratives that further explain both the TIP situation on the ground and governmental efforts according to the criteria laid out by Congress. The methodology is sound and transparent—the facts are applied to the law. Any country, whether in Asia or elsewhere, that wants to test this methodology need only assess their efforts against these minimum standards.
Thorough and honest assessments are the benchmark of the TIP Report. Our narratives take into account information from civil society groups, foreign governments, and our own State Department reporting officers who conduct on-the-ground research throughout the year. The review process involves numerous DOS offices so that the final product represents a Department-wide consensus on how well various governments are handling this problem. Beginning last year, a United States country ranking was also included in the Report, because, as Secretary Clinton has said, we should hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold everyone else. Accurate reporting is essential to the effectiveness of the TIP Report as a diplomatic tool, and indeed governments repeatedly cite it as a factor prompting stronger action in response to modern slavery. Sometimes that happens in public—more often in private. And sometimes a government that criticizes the Report and even perhaps mobilizes others against it quietly takes steps to work with us to begin meeting these standards.
What the Report tells us is that no country is immune to this scourge, and that no government is doing a perfect job combating it. The two regions we are addressing today—East Asia and the Pacific, and South and Central Asia—are hit particularly hard by this crime. I’m pleased to be joined today by Assistant Secretary Robert Blake, who leads the Department’s South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau, and Joseph Yun, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. We always say the fight against modern slavery takes political will, and Bob Blake and EAP Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell are showing that both individually and within their chains of command. My colleagues will discuss in greater detail the progress in these areas and what governments are doing about it, but I’d like to highlight a few of the problems in trends that were discussed in the 2011 TIP Report and continue to be areas of concern.
  • Sex trafficking of women and children has not abated and may in fact be increasing in places such as India. Additionally, our findings continue to show that it is local populations, more than Western “sex tourists,” that fuel the demand for sex trafficking, and law enforcement needs to address both sectors for prevention to be truly successful. Widening gender gaps in China and India are fueling the demand for young girls as forced brides or for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • We know that around the world, forced labor is highly prevalent among migrant populations, and that Asia has the world’s largest share of labor migration. Migrants from both the East Asia and Pacific and South and Central Asia regions are subjected to forced labor in recognized destination countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and the Persian Gulf. More troubling still, much of this abuse takes place under the guise of legal, contractual and temporary work.
  • In recent months, concerns over forced labor on fishing fleets have garnered increased attention. Our own research suggests that this is a problem with massive geographic scope, spanning fisheries from Indonesia to New Zealand. And Asian boats are ranging from the Cape of Good Hope to Central America.
  • The enslavement of domestic workers from South and East Asia is a significant problem, whether Sri Lankans abused in the Gulf or Indonesians exploited in Malaysia. The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) new Convention on Domestic Workers aims at addressing the unique vulnerabilities of this group; we hope that the increased attention on this challenge will lead to governments addressing the needs for justice and services for these victims.
  • Definitional confusion among governments in the EAP and SCA regions continues to lead to the conflation of people smuggling and human trafficking. This lack of clarity hinders efforts to find and help victims. When it comes to trafficking, we continue to urge destination governments to shift their focus away from the legality of a migrant. As we know, modern slavery need not involve movement or cross borders.
  • Additionally, we continue to push governments to acknowledge that human trafficking is a crime that can involve sex and labor. For instance, the definition of trafficking in the 2005 South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention is not consistent with how the term is defined and addressed in many other prominent international instruments on trafficking in persons from groups such as the Council of Europe and the Organization of American States, and with the primary international treaty on trafficking, the Palermo Protocol. The Convention continues to focus on the concept of trafficking as the movement of women and children for prostitution and fails to address the trafficking of adults or forced labor. We hope that as the region’s leaders gather for the SAARC Summit in Male in November, they will work toward bringing the region’s conceptual notion of trafficking into conformity with the UN and other regional frameworks.
  • We continue to advocate for comprehensive victim care, rather than the “Detain and Deport” model that we too often see in these regions. Protection should not mean inappropriate confinement for victims preparatory to deportation. Indeed, they need to be empowered through the opportunity for economic self-sustainability as well as aftercare and alternatives to deportation.
  • We encourage governments of sending and receiving states to explicitly address modern slavery in labor-related memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and to enforce those provisions in an open and transparent manner.
My staff and I, collaborating closely with regional bureaus, will continue to engage governments in these regions in order to bring these issues to their attention, and we will urge them to take positive action in advance of next year’s TIP Report.


SUCCESS: Four human trafficking gangs dismantled in Azerbaijan

If you don't know where Azerbaijan is, don't feel bad, I had to look it up as well.  The Republic of Azerbaijan is in the middle of Euro-Asia with Russia to the North, Armenia to the West, Iran to the South and the Caspian Sea to the East. 

With it's prime location next to Russia, Armenia and Iran, Azerbaijan is a natural hotspot for human trafficking. Under the U.S. State Department 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Republic of Azerbaijan received a Tier 2 Rating.  Tier 1 is the best rating and Tier 3 is the worst. The report cited a lack of prosecution and law enforcement within Azerbaijan pertaining to human trafficking and the high amount of sex trafficking within the country. You can read the full report here

But a change in the right direction may be on the way.  This morning the Deputy Interior Minister Vilayat Eyvazov  reported to the Azerbaijan parliament that 4 human trafficking gangs had been neutralized recently and dozens of victims placed in safe havens and assistance centers year-to-date.

I hope the report is accurate and changes are coming within Azerbaijan and the region. As Gary Haugen, founder of the International Justice Mission, said in a meeting I attended earlier this year, "When public justice systems are made to protect the poor-slave owners, traffickers and other criminals can no longer act with impunity- millions of vulnerable children, women and men will never be abused."

The key to further success will be prosecution of the gangs and offenders.  Preventative measures and after-care treatment is absolutely essential to ending modern slavery, but without justice systems working fairly and prosecutions taking place, it will never end.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dozens of sex trafficking victims saved

DHS Open Source Enterprise Daily Human Trafficking and Smuggling Report 18 October 2011 

Russian Sex-Trafficking Suspects Pack Orlando Courtroom [Florida]: Eleven members of a suspected Russian sex-trafficking ring accused of operating in Central Florida will pack into an Orlando courtroom today.… The suspected ringleader, Roman Caraiman, is the only one of the 12 named in the 27-count indictment who will not be at trial — because he hasn't been arrested. Earlier this year, Caraiman told the Orlando Sentinel he fled the United States and was in Europe. He left behind his baby and ex-wife, Tatiana Belinschi, who will be one of the 11 defendants in the courtroom today. … Caraiman is accused of bringing people from Russia, and seeking women from other countries to work in the sex trade. Prosecutors say he used the Internet to recruit non-U.S. citizens to work here. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 18 October 2011; Source:,0,1958065.story]

Malaysian Police Rescue 21 Ugandan 'Sex Slaves' [Malaysia]: Malaysian police said Tuesday they have busted a sex slave ring and rescued 21 Ugandan women who were forced into prostitution after being lured to Malaysia with promises of jobs as maids. Criminal investigation chief Bakri Zinin said in a statement that police found the women, aged between 19 and 42, holed up in four apartment units in central Selangor state during a raid on Friday. He said three Ugandans - two women believed to be pimps and a man suspected of being a customer - were detained. Initial investigations showed the 21 women were promised jobs as maids in homes and hotels with a salary of $1,000 a month, but instead forced to become "sex slaves" to pay off travel fees and other costs totaling $7,000, he said. The women were brought into the country via China, and were threatened verbally and physically to stop them from running away, the statement added. A police official said Tuesday that investigations were focused on how long the ring had been in operation and who the masterminds were. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 18 October 2011; Source:]

Two Teenage Sex Slaves Rescued In India With Help From Christian Organization: Two teenage girls were rescued from a brothel in India after a Christian organization alerted police that the girls had been forced into sex slavery.… The India Rescue Mission (IRM) told local police that two girls named Roopa, 16, and Gowri, 17, were trapped in a prostitution ring in the city of Prune…. After police were told of the girls' presence, they raided the brothel and arrested its owner. In the statement given by Gowri after the rescue operation, she said that she was tricked into coming to India from Bangladesh by being promised a job, which eventually led to her being forced into sex slavery. "She was made to attend customers by force and if she denied them then she would be beaten. She was kept in captivity for four months," said James Varghese, the founder of the IRM. … The two girls' plight is an example of the grave problem of child prostitution facing India. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 17 October 2011; Source:]

2 Human Trafficking Victims Rescued [Philippines]: The Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) of the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) has rescued two victims of human trafficking in the city, a top police official said Monday. Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, ZCPO director, said the victims were rescued around 4:25 p.m. Sunday at a budget hotel along Gov. Alvarez Avenue, Zamboanga City. De Ocampo withheld the victims' identities but said they are all women and one of them is a 25-year-old resident of Cabanatuan City while the other is a 24-year-old from Valenzuela, Metro Manila. The alleged recruiter, whose real identity is not also known, was not around when the WCPC personnel raided the budget hotel and rescued the two victims, de Ocampo added. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 17 October 2011; Source:]

Cabinet Probes Child Trafficking Syndicate [Namibia]: Cabinet has started probing an alleged child-trafficking syndicate that involves several European countries and some self-styled social welfare organizations in Namibia. Secretary to Cabinet, Frans Kapofi, confirmed this upon inquiry on Friday. Kapofi said the executive had received a detailed report from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, whose inspectors uncovered the syndicate. New Era understands that several juvenile offenders are quietly flown in from Europe and immediately dispatched to farms in the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions as part of their rehabilitation. They are under the custodian of several local welfare organizations, who pocket hefty fees from European governments as payment for hosting the young offenders. The shocking revelations were unearthed in February this year when labor inspectors undertook a series of ad hoc visits to farms in the regions. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 17 October 2011; Source:]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nigerian baby factory raided - daily human trafficking report

DHS Open Source Enterprise Daily Human Trafficking and Smuggling Report 17 October 2011

Nigerian Baby Factory Raided: Police in southern Nigeria have raided a purported orphanage where they found 17 pregnant girls, arresting the owner on suspicion of planning to sell their babies, a spokesperson said on Saturday. The owner and a young man "suspected of having been hired to impregnate the girls" were arrested, police spokesperson Emeka Chukwuemeka told AFP. "We are suspecting that young girls are deliberately encouraged to become pregnant so once they give birth to the child, the child will be sold to interested persons, maybe childless couples," he said. Police acted on a report of "suspicious activity" at the institution in Ihiala, in the southern state of Anambra, that claimed to be an orphanage…. It was not the first time Nigerian authorities have dismantled a so-called baby factory. In May, police in the state of Abia, also in the south, freed 32 pregnant girls thought to be forced bear children destined for sale. Some of the girls said they were promised between $150 to $180, while the children were sold for between 300,000 and a million nairas. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 16 October 2011; Source:]

Customs Agency's Rapid Expansion Parallels Rise In Corruption [California]:
 When Luis Alarid was a child, his mother would seat him in the car while she smuggled people and drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. She was the sweet-talking commuter, he was her cute boy, and the mother-son ploy regularly kept customs inspectors from peeking inside the trunk. Twenty-five years later, Alarid was back at the border in San Diego, seeking a job as a customs inspector. … Alarid had served in the Marines and Army, which was a factor in his favor. But there was cause for concern: His finances were in shambles, including $30,000 in credit card debt. His mother, father and other relatives had been convicted of or indicted on charges of smuggling. After the background check and an interview, Alarid was cleared for a border posting. Within months, he turned his government job into a lucrative criminal enterprise. In cahoots with a gang that included his uncle and, allegedly, his mother, Alarid let cars into California filled with drugs and illegal immigrants. "I was inside now, going around understanding how things work," Alarid said in a telephone interview from federal prison in Kentucky, where he is serving a seven-year sentence for corruption. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 17 October 2011; Source:]

Nigerian Gets 11yrs For Human Trafficking [Georgia]: A Nigerian woman was sentenced on Thursday to more than 11 years in prison for enslaving two young women from her country to work as servants and nannies at her home, forcing them to cut her lawn by hand and beating them ruthlessly when they crossed her. Bidemi Bello pleaded with the judge for mercy, but prosecutors said Bello's remorse didn't erase the years of suffering she inflicted on her victims. US District Judge Bill Duffey agreed, sentencing Bello to 140 months in prison and ordering that she be deported to Nigeria after she served her time. Bello was convicted during a weeklong trial in June of luring the two women to her suburban Atlanta home with promises of sending them to school, then dashing their hopes by forcing them to work demeaning chores and beating them with wooden spoons, shoes and cords when they didn't heed her orders quickly. [HSEC- 3.10; Date: 14 October 2011; Source:]

Three Human Smugglers Sentenced To Prison [Texas]: Three Houstonians have been sentenced to prison for running a human smuggling operation and forcing their victims to distribute pirated CDs and DVDs  to pay off their debt. Estela Aguilar-Lopez, 59, Blanca Estela Lopez-Aguilar, 37, Francisco Ivan RodriguezGarcia, 35, were sentenced Thursday to 46, 50 and 57 months in federal prison. During the investigation, investigators determined that Aguilar-Lopez, Lopez-Aguilar and Rodriguez-Garcia, among others, were recruiting illegal aliens from Mexico to the United States. The illegal immigrants would then have to pay off their debt by selling pirated CDs and DVDs in apartment complexes. … The victims were forced to live with the traffickers and if they did not pay their debts, they were assaulted, threatened with violence and intimidated via threatening phone calls made to family members in Mexico. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 14 October 2011; Source:]

Bulgarian Jailed In UK After Being Found Guilty Of Sex Trafficking: A Bulgarian man has been jailed for six years by a British court after being arrested for forcing a woman into prostitution, the Tottenham and Wood Green Journal reported. According to the report, Mehmed Mahmudov met the woman at a wedding in Bulgaria two years previously and persuaded her to move to London. There, she was held captive and forced into prostitution. She managed to escape after four weeks and pleaded for help, the report said, in the only English she knew, "help, police, please." This led to the unmasking of an international trafficking gang, the report said. Mahmudov, described in the report as a grandfather, aged 33, was jailed for six years for three counts of sex trafficking and three years for three counts of controlling prostitution for gain. [HSEC- 3.10; Date: 16 October 2011; Source:]

Police Arrest 32 In 'Human Trafficking' Raid [Sweden]: Police now suspect that many of the arrested workers could have been victims of human trafficking. … Police officers raided the factory just as many were arriving for work at 8am on Thursday. The premises belongs to Eat Food Factory Europa AB, one of  Scandinavia's largest producers of chilled ready-meals and a supplier to, among others, Coop, Lidl, SJ, SAS and Mat på jobbet. According to Aftonbladet the majority of those arrested in the raid come from Uzbekistan or other former Soviet republics. When the police arrived at the factory in Jordbro south of Stockholm there were 54 people working in the factory, 32 were detained and taken from the premises. ... The raid isn't the first time the company has been hit with suspicions of sub-standard labor practices. [HSEC-3.10; Date: 14 October 2011; Source:]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Example of one company making a difference to prevent human trafficking

Montara Circle Update - Headwaters Natural Products from Not For Sale Campaign on Vimeo.

The concept for Headwaters Natural Products was sparked in February 2011 at Not For Sale’s Montara Circle, a think tank of business, political and cultural leaders that stimulate social innovation. Participants were challenged to come up with a plan that would positively impact a 55-square mile region of the Peruvian Amazon that has been a target of human trafficking and forced labor. The idea? Form a beverage company that would use signature ingredients from the area, creating several avenues of economic benefit.
By August 2011, Headwaters Natural Products was the result, formed as a separate for-profit business. That separation enables NFS and Headwaters to partner in a common cause while being free to focus on the activities each does best.
A viable business with social mission at its heart 
While Headwaters runs like any other for-profit business, our social mission is deeply woven into our business model in three ways:
  1. We operate under Not For Sale’s Business Code of Conduct. It requires that sourcing, production and marketing all meet NFS protocols that ensure there is no forced labor involved.
  2. Part of our revenue stream will go directly back to NFS to support their work.
  3. Our first source for ingredients will always start with NFS certified supply chains. Where they don’t exist yet, we hope to help create demand for them.
From beginning to end, we’re committed to balancing the larger universe of human concerns with the demands of creating a profitable business.

You can learn more about Headwaters Natural Products at their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.   

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca testifies about human trafficking before Senate

On September 14, 2011, Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large of the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (GTIP), testifies before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

It's a short 6 minute video that provides insight into the U.S. government efforts to combat modern slavery, and how money is appropriated. It's interesting to learn how many NGO's and foreign governments rely on GTIP funding and support to combat human trafficking. I did not realize the overwhelming requests GTIP receives for assistance.

Here are some quotes from the video.  Click to read the whole transcript.

"In the last two years, the Office received 998 applications requesting a total of $547 million."

"Our final foreign assistance appropriation for this fiscal year was $16.2 million. While we put every penny of that sum to good use, that total stands in stark contrast to a crime exploiting as many as 27 million victims worldwide."

"The sad reality is that without the modest funding G/TIP is able to provide, many of the projects we support would have to close their doors. That would mean more than just the end of a victim identification initiative or the shuttering of a shelter for survivors. In many instances, it would mean the end of all such services in that country. That must not be the mark of our foreign policy."

"But fighting slavery is more than good foreign policy. It’s part of who we are as a nation. We cannot walk away from that responsibility here at home or in our conduct around the world."

There was also a great interview on NPR "Talk of the Nation" with Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca that I suggest listening to and I also suggest taking a look at the 2011 TIP (Trafficking in Persons) report

Monday, September 26, 2011

Not For Sale: End Human Trafficking and Slavery

This is a creative and wonderfully made video for an all to common and sad story.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Post Earthquake Child Trafficking in Haiti

News clip on child trafficking in Haiti since the earthquake.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Facts of Modern Slavery

What are the real facts regarding slavery in our world today? How many slaves are there? How many are in the United States? How much is the slave trade worth today? Who is being trafficked?

These are questions one needs to understand in order to fully comprehend the impact of slavery in the world.

First off, let's define slavery.  The following is the definition found on CNN's Freedom Project.

“Slavery occurs when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically, pays them nothing and they cannot walk away.”

This includes, but is not limited to...
  • Debt Bondage
  • Bonded Labor
  • Attached Labor
  • Restavec
  • Forced Labor
  • Forced Prostitution
  • Indentured Servitude
The following is a list of facts gathered from the U.S. State Department, United Nations, university studies and NGO's Free the Slaves and the International Labour Organization.  You can see a visual of these facts in the slideshow below.
  1. According to the United Nations, modern slavery is estimated to generate over $32 billion dollars per year. It comprises the 3rd largest illegal activity behind drug and arms trafficking. To give you an idea of how much money that is, that's more than the combined annual profits of Google and Nike.
  2. Using statistical analysis similar to that used to number endangered species, the International Labor Organization and Free the Slaves estimate that there are 10-30 million slaves worldwide today. 
  3. In a 2005 report, the U.S. State Department estimated that between 14,500 - 17,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year.
  4. According to the U.S. State Department, between 600,000 - 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. 70% of these are female and 50% are children.
  5. In 1809, the adjusted price of a slave for our day would be $40,000. Today the average price of a slave is just $90. This creates an economic factor not seen in the African slave trade.
  6. In the United States, a runaway will be contacted by a trafficker within 48 hours of running away.
  7. 2010 study of Chicago area pimps found that 48% of pimps in the Chicago area ran away as a child to avoid abuse. 88% of the pimps were abused as children and 76% were sexually assaulted as children. 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I was young 19 year-old living in Dallas, TX. In 2 months I would be leaving to serve a church mission. At the time I was working for a pool cleaning company saving up money to go on this mission. I was driving my work truck in Plano, TX when the news started coming over the radio. As I pulled up to a stop light, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut as the wind was knocked out of me. I looked out my side windows as the other drivers did the same. We had a moment of understanding as we all stared back at each other.

I pulled my vehicle over to the side of the road and I prayed. There was not much else I could do other than pour my heart out to God. I prayed for those in harm's way. I prayed for those who had died and for their families. I prayed for hope. I prayed for my family. I prayed for our country. Then, I went back to work.

I went through the day as if in a trance. Some of the customers invited me into their home to watch the news for a short while when I came to clean their pool. We talked as if we were close friends. We truly became united as a people that day. Trivial differences and insecurities didn't matter.

This blog is about freedom and justice. Writing this blog and reflecting on 9/11 is humbling. I am thankful to live in the United States of America. Compared to much of the world we enjoy so much freedom, safety and justice. We can live and enjoy the pursuit of happiness. We are blessed. This day I will say another prayer. It will be similar to that prayer I offered 10 years ago, except I will give more thanks. This is a truly great nation and there is much to be thankful for. May we find peace and humility this day. May we never forget the tragedy of 9/11, those who passed, and how we were united. May the Lord comfort those that stand in need of comfort and may his love replace hate. This is my prayer.

Stories of the great boat lift on 9/11. The largest sea evacuation in history with over 500,000 rescued by boat.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two Child Soldiers Released in Burma

Burmese military officials free two young men to their families following international intervention.

The Burmese military, notorious for recruiting under-aged fighters, has released two child soldiers to their families following pressure from a global labor rights watchdog.


Phyo Sithu with his mother following his release from prison, Sept. 2, 2011.

Zaw Wai Lin, 16, and Nay Ye Lin, 15, who were conscripted into different military units, were both allowed to leave their barracks on Friday after each had spent nearly a year in forced service.

Both children had been the subject of RFA coverage after their parents reported the boys missing and local rights group Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP) filed cases on their behalf with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Zaw Wai Lin, of Rangoon division’s Hlaing Tharyar township, told RFA that he was released from the Mandalay 111 Directorate of Signal in front of local authorities and his parents.

"A group of army officers, one local authority, and my parents were present when they released me. They didn’t say anything when I was set free,” he said.

“I will be going back to school next year. For now, I will help my mom with farming."

Zaw Wai Lin said he was forced to join the army in September last year at the age of 15... (READ FULL STORY)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Attorney General Biden Renews Call for to Remove Adult Service Ads

NEWS RELEASE: Biden Renews Call on Web Site to Remove Adult Services Ads

Wilmington – Deleware Attorney General Beau Biden today renewed his call on, an online advertising Web site, to eliminate its section of adult-themed classified ads that have been found to solicit child prostitution. In a letter (see attached) sent jointly with 45 other Attorneys General, Biden also called on the site to verify and document specific steps it is taking to prevent illegal activity on its site.

“ is simply not doing the right thing by continuing to profit from ads that exploit women and children,” Biden said. “The only way for them to stop this illegal activity and protect kids is to remove its adult services ads and take aggressive action to ensure that these posts don’t appear elsewhere on its site.”

In September, 2010, Biden and 20 Attorneys General wrote requesting that its adult services section be closed. claims it has strict policies to prevent illegal postings. However, Attorneys General have found hundreds of ads on’s regional sites that are clearly for illegal services. Moreover, they point to more than 50 cases in 22 states over three years that involve the trafficking or attempted trafficking of children through

Attorney General Biden was among Attorneys General who successfully persuaded the online advertising site to remove its adult classifieds because the postings were being used to solicit child prostitution and other forms of human trafficking. In 2008, Attorneys General in reached an agreement with Craigslist to crack down on illegal listings in an effort to reduce crimes like human trafficking. Craigslist ultimately removed its “erotic services” section altogether in May, 2009. is owned by Village Voice Media, LLC, which owns 13 weekly newspapers in the United States and is the top provider of “adult services” advertisements. Industry analysts estimate that Village Voice generates more than $22 million in annual revenue from these ads.

In today’s letter the Attorneys General ask the company to substantiate the claim that it enforces policies to prevent illegal activity. Specifically, the attorneys general ask to provide those policies and to describe in detail its understanding of what constitutes “illegal activity” and whether advertisements for prostitution fall into that category. The Attorneys General also seek how many adult services advertisements have been submitted to the site over the past year, how many were individually screened, how many were rejected prior to publication and how many were removed after being discovered to be for illegal services.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Join the National Call-in Day to Pass the TVPRA on Sep 8!

I received the following invitation from the International Justice Mission (IJM) last week and I extend the same invitation to everyone. This is something simple you can do to help pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization act. Just watch the video below to see how easy it is to call in. A few minutes of your time will go a long way to help pass vital anti-trafficking legislation. You can find your legislators phone number at

From IJM:
Abolitionists around the country are advocating for the passage of theTrafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act – bi-partisan legislation to sustain life-saving programs that fight human trafficking at home and abroad.
This legislation must be reauthorized every few years, and is set to expire this year on September 30. On September 8, join IJM and abolitionists around the country for the National Call-In Day to Pass the TVPRA!
There are many issues competing for your Senators' attention right now, so they need to hear from constituents who care about ending modern-day slavery to make the TVPRA a priority. Last year, your calls in support of the Child Protection Compact Act helped generate 13 new co-sponsors for that bill in the House and Senate. Let's work together to generate 3,000 calls – from all 50 states.

IJM National Call-In Day: September 8, 2011 from International Justice Mission on Vimeo.

In addition to calling your Senators, you can send them an email using this form letter created by IJM. You can edit the letter, add your address and the email will automatically be sent to your Senators. It's another simple way to have your voice heard. SEND YOUR EMAIL.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

SNEAK PEEK: Upcoming Feature Film on Human Trafficking

A new feature film currently in post-production called Trade Of Innocents. The film stars Dermot Mulroney and Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino. The back drop for the story of Trade of Innocents is human trafficking. The film is presently slated for a national wide theatrical release in early 2012, and will roll out internationally throughout 2012.

The hope of the movie is to take an important message to the world in the form of a well-told story in a feature film, and the goal is to do a small part to end slavery in our lifetime.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How do you find one missing girl?

Mumbai is a city of 18 million people. How do you find one missing girl? Suhana was rescued not one, but twice. You can help the International Justice Mission rescue many more. Please watch this 12 minute video and decide what you can do.

Click here to donate.

You can also text "FREEDOM" to 20222 to donate $10 using your mobile phone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Global Forum on Human Trafficking October 21-22

I had the chance to meet with Nathan Beeghley, Social Media Manager of Not For Sale, a couple of weeks ago. We had a nice breakfast in San Francisco and talked about some of the innovative things NFS is doing to combat slavery. For those who have not been to the Not For Sale website recently (, I say check it outright now, or right after finishing this blogpost. The site has evolved quite a bit over the last year and there are many new campaigns you can get involved with, such as the Free2Work, Free2Play, Free2Walk, NFS Academy and more.

We also spoke at length about the October 21-22 Global Forum on Human Trafficking taking place in Silicon Valley. This is where the movement to end slavery gets technical. There will be over 30 guest speakers, including co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey, and over 1,600 attendees. Today's leading abolitionists. innovators and activists will convene to discuss strategies and provide training on ways we can all participate to combat slavery. Like my Grandpa used to say, "Many hands makes light work."We all have a part we can play in ending modern slavery, the more we learn and the more who get involved, the quicker and easier it will become to end slavery.

Pre-registration is currently reduced to $129 right now. Plus, you can save an additional 10% off your registration when you use the code: ABOLITIONISTJB

Global Forum 2011 Promo from Hepburn Creative on Vimeo.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Looking for Guest Writers

I am looking for guest writers to help add beneficial content to AbolitionistJB and help spread awareness, news and solutions to modern slavery.

There is no pay for articles as I don't make any money off of this blog. But if you are interested in sharing stories, opinions and ideas surrounding modern slavery, my Blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts are open to you as a medium.

If you are interested in making a little bit of money, and I mean a little bit, in addition to spreading awareness, then you can register as an Examiner on in your local area and write articles about modern slavery. The nice thing about is you can repost articles you have written on other sites and blogs. I became an examiner last year and it has been a great medium for me to reach more people and raise awareness.

If you are interested in writing on AbolitionistJB, follow these steps.

1. Email me an article you would like posted to abolitionistjb @ with the headline: WRITE FOR ABOLITIONISTJB

2. Attach any pictures you would like added to the article.

3. Include the html for any embedded videos you would like.

4. I reserve the right to edit the articles for grammar, language, etc... Please keep the content clean and free from swearing and anything vulgar. After the article is posted I will also tweet and Facebook post about the article to help reach more people.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank You,
John Burger

Inside a human trafficking crisis center

Victims of trafficking are often isolated: They're told that contact with police with trigger their own arrest and they're afraid of beatings or reprisals by the traffickers themselves.
The Polaris Project's National Human Trafficking Resource Center, a 24-hour government-funded national trafficking hotline, has become a lifeline for some.
• National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-3737-888
• Hotlines all over the world
In the video, actress Mira Sorvino, in her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, helps build awareness of the human trafficking issue and takes CNN on a behind-the-scenes tour of the crisis center.