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:]