NEWS SUMMARY 15/10/09

EIGHTEEN BURMESE HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS RESCUED            

Thai police and human rights activists raided two boats and broker houses in a fishing town South East of Bangkok on Tuesday and freed eighteen human trafficking victims. It was revealed that the victims – all Burmese nationals – had been promised jobs in Thai factories but were actually sold as fisherman to Thai boat captains. It is alleged that the victims were sold on three times, and were informed that they would have to work for seven months without pay to cover the travelling costs of 22,000 baht (US$650). The victims were said to have looked exhausted and were overwhelmed about being rescued from their ordeal, retelling of how they were beaten, locked up, not given medicine when sick, and also of how some workers had drowned whilst attempting to escape from the fishing boat. They were sent to government safe houses for trafficking victims. Three people were arrested, and the police are said to be working with the rescue victims to save others. (Source, 13/10/09)

 

CHILD TRAFFICKING IN GUATEMALA ON THE RISE

In Guatemala, despite new human trafficking laws enforced this year, there are only ten agents working for the government against human trafficking across the entire country. Worryingly, evidence suggests that child sex tourism is growing, and activist Leonel Dubón (of the Asociación El Refugio de la Niñez) claims that trafficking of children is significant in border areas, particularly affecting Central American migrants attempting to pass through to the USA. The Guatemalan justice system is notorious for corruption, which can be seen as a factor in the existence of diverse illicit networks – such as the ‘known’ group of taxi drivers who help tourists find, and have sex with, street children. Some link the fact that over 15,000 Guatemalan children under 18 are victims of child sex trafficking to the dire economic situation in the country – the World Bank places Guatemala as one of the poorest in Latin America, with about 75 percent of the population living below the poverty line. The recent US Trafficking in Persons Report put Guatemala on ‘Tier 2 Watch List’, with four other Latin American nations, which represents worries about digression to the lowest Tier 3. Director of ECPAT International in Guatemala relates the lack of state action and prosecution to failure to classify trafficking. Part of the problem is lack of training, but also lack of resources, state interest and funds – evidenced by the recent closure of Casa Alianza, the Latin American branch of the New York-based Covenant House. (Source, 13/10/09)

 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING ON THE AGENDA IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

The government in Trinidad and Tobago has approved a nine-month plan to counter human trafficking. This will be enforced with the help of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), various government ministries, NGOs, and faith-based organizations with a focus on prevention and protection of victims, and a move to criminalise and prosecute the perpetrators. The multi-agency approach is hoped to be a successful in establishing a strong long term plan and will include a referral procedure enabling identification of victims and required services, a ‘hotline’ for reporting suspected cases and a nationwide campaign. New legislation is expected to be enacted criminalizing trafficking and preventing the spread of this crime. (Source 14/10/09)

 

SPECIALIST HUMAN TRAFFICKING TEAM ESTABLISHED IN DUBAI

A permanent team of specialists has been established in Dubai to investigate human trafficking, including female public prosecutors, legal researchers, social workers and psychological advisors. The team is thought to be a logical result of the success of the 2006 anti-human trafficking law, which this year alone has seen up to 20 cases referred to the Dubai Court of First Instance. Whilst the two core priorities of the team are said to be victim support and case investigation there will also be an emphasis on the role of ‘enlightening the public’. Chair of the team, Kalifa Bin Deemas, sees this new measure as significant in strengthening the UAE’s role in international judicial cooperation – a seriousness reflected in the sentences for traffickers – possible life imprisonment and fines of up to Dh1 million. (Source 15/10/09)

 

NEW JERSEY CONVICTION

In a previous news summary we mentioned the case of Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, a West African Woman accused of human trafficking, and forced labour in New Jersey, USA. Today after less than five hours deliberation the jury found her guilty on all counts of human trafficking. Read the full story here: Source 15/10/09

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