Wednesday, February 24, 2010

EU: Parliament Adopts New Anti-Trafficking Resolutions

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - Victims of human trafficking, especially women and children, should receive protection and "unconditional" assistance, demanded the EP in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. The victims should be entitled to free legal aid, the penalties for traffickers should be rethought and ways must be found to discourage demand for services supplied by the victims, say MEPs.

The fight against trafficking in human beings must stay high on the EU agenda during times of economic and financial crisis, stresses the resolution. According to Europol’s assessment for 2009, trafficking of women for sexual exploitation has not decreased and trafficking for forced labour is increasing.

Trafficking takes many forms. It is linked to sexual exploitation, forced labour, the illegal trade in human organs, begging, illegal adoptions and domestic work. Of the identified victims of trafficking, 79% are women and girls.

Further EU action in this field should focus on the protection of victims, say MEPs, by ensuring that assistance to victims is “unconditional”, that a victim’s consent to exploitation is always deemed irrelevant and that victims are entitled to assistance irrespective of their willingness to cooperate in criminal proceedings.

According to the EP, victims should receive all possible help from the moment they are identified as such, including access to at least a temporary residence permit, irrespective of their willingness to cooperate in criminal proceedings, and simplified access to the labour market, including the provision of training and other forms of upskilling. The EP also asks for a simplified family reunification policy for victims, particularly where this is required for their protection, access to appropriate secure accommodation, including the provision of a food/subsistence allowance, to emergency medical treatment, to counselling services, translation and interpretation where appropriate, help contacting family and friends, and access to education for children.

Free legal aid should also be given to the victims, which “is essential to enable them to escape the situation of coercion in which they find themselves, bearing in mind that they lack financial means and would thus be unable to pay for such assistance”.

Further prevention and action could also focus on the users of services supplied by trafficked people. MEPs call for massive awareness-raising campaigns targeting both potential victims of trafficking and potential buyers of services from trafficked persons...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Europarl.europa.eu

READ THE SPECIFICS OF THE RESOLUTIONS HERE

Haiti: Fake Lawyer to Imprisoned Americans Actually a Wanted Sex Trafficker

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Jorge Puello falsely portrayed himself as a lawyer in Haiti and is now at large.


HAITI - As the 10 Americans imprisoned in Haiti for trying to remove children from the country awaited a decision on their fate Monday, the legal woes of the man who falsely portrayed himself as the group's lawyer mounted.

The one-time legal adviser, who calls himself Jorge Puello, now acknowledges that he faces sex trafficking charges in El Salvador under the name Jorge Anibal Torres Puello. He remained at large on Monday, as Dominican, Salvadoran and American law enforcement officials worked with Interpol to interview his relatives and search border and immigration records to find him.

Mr. Puello is wanted by the police in at least four countries in connection with charges including sex trafficking of girls and women, and making counterfeit documents and violating parole.

The Salvadoran police unveiled a sex trafficking ring last May in which they said Mr. Puello was helping to bring women and girls from Central America and the Caribbean into El Salvador and luring them into prostitution through offers of modeling and office jobs. Nude and semi-nude photographs were taken of women and girls and put on Internet sites, the police said.

The case against Mr. Puello broke open when three under-age Nicaraguan girls escaped from a house where they said they had been held captive for up to ten days by Mr. Puello's wife, Ana Josefa Galvarina Ramirez Orellana, and another man, according to Jorge Callejas, head of the Salvadoran border police...

READ THE FULL STORY AT NYTimes.com

US: Western Union Settles in Border Wire-Transfers Case

UNITED STATES - Western Union will pay $94 million to settle a long-running legal battle with the state of Arizona over whether the company allowed its money transfers to be used to send proceeds from human trafficking and drug smuggling to Mexico, officials announced Thursday (Feb. 11, 2010).

The settlement includes $50 million that will help law enforcement operations in border states fight money laundering. Western Union has also agreed to beef up its internal procedures to stop its wire transfers from being exploited.

"Attacking the flow of illicit funds from the United States to smuggling cartels in Mexico is fundamental to our goal of crushing the cartels," Arizona Atty. Gen. Terry Goddard said.

David Schlapbach, executive vice president and general counsel of Western Union, said in a statement: "Assisting law enforcement in its efforts to combat illegal activity serves the public interest on both sides of the border and helps protect those who use our services."

The settlement resolves a legal battle that started in 2006. Goddard's office was in the midst of a years-long investigation of human traffickers when it filed papers to seize all transfers of more than $500 headed to the Mexican state of Sonora, Arizona's southern neighbor...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT LATimes.com

US: Sex Trafficking Convictions & Indictments Oct-Feb

Below is a list of federal sex trafficking convictions or indictments in the United States from the last five months. Each case has a link to a further story: (Thanks to the US Department of Justice, Trafficking Prosecution Unit for sharing this with us.)

On February 3, 2010, defendant Miguel Angel Rugerio was sentenced in federal district court in Atlanta, Georgia, to sixty months in prison for his role in a sex trafficking conspiracy. He pled guilty to the offense on October 29, 2009. The defendant and his co-conspirators were charged in United States v. Rugerio with engaging in a scheme to lure young, vulnerable victims from Mexico on promises of a better life, and then to use threats, assaults, and psychological coercion to compel the victims into prostitution for the defendants’ profit.

Last week, on January 28, 2010, a defendant was sentenced in United States v. Cooney in the Eastern District of Arkansas to 90 months’ imprisonment pursuant to his guilty plea on one count of sex trafficking. His co-defendant, who pled guilty on October 23, 2009, in connection with the sex trafficking scheme that targeted U.S. citizen victims, is awaiting sentencing.

Also last week, on January 25, 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Mendez affirmed the 50-year sentence of a sex trafficker who was charged in the Western District of Tennessee in a scheme to lure young women and girls from Mexico on false promises of legitimate jobs, and then force them into prostitution, abusing them both physically and sexually and confiscating all their earnings. The affirmance in Mendez came shortly after another co-defendant in that case, Cristina Andres Perfecto, was sentenced on December 24, 2009 to 190 months for her role in the sex trafficking operation. A total of eleven defendants were convicted in connection with the case.

At the conclusion of a three-day sex trafficking trial, a San Diego, California jury returned convictions on January 8, 2010, on ten counts, including two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, for luring young Mexican victims into the United States and compelling them into prostitution through intimidation, fear, and psychological coercion. The defendant in that case, United States v. Zitlalpopoca-Hernandez, is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

On December 17, 2009, a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska indicted four co-defendants in United States v. Mujahid, on sex trafficking and related charges arising from a criminal enterprise that compelled U.S. citizen victims, both adults and minors, into prostitution, using threats, physical assaults, and sexual assaults to control the victims if they disobeyed or attempted to leave, and requiring the victims to turn over the proceeds to the defendants.

On November 17, 2009, defendant Consuelo Carreto Valencia was sentenced to 121 months in prison for her role in the Carreto family sex trafficking ring that compelled young Mexican women and girls into prostitution in New York, for the profit of the defendants, using threats, physical assaults, psychological manipulation, and control over the victims’ children to hold the victims in fear and under the defendants’ control. The two lead defendants in the case, Carreto Valencia’s sons, had each been sentenced to fifty years’ imprisonment, preceding Carreto Valencia’s extradition from Mexico. On October 28, 2009, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lead defendants’ convictions and fifty-year sentences.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moldova: Bringing Moldova's Women Into the Democratization Process

A woman weeps at a center for reabilitating victims of domestic violence in Moldova.

MOLDOVA - Moldova's women remain prime targets for human trafficking and exploitation, and it will take more than just improving Moldova's economy to save them.

Both the blight and the profits of human trafficking in Moldova can be felt everywhere in the small country. Children left in the care of ailing grandparents or abandoned to appalling orphanages in Chisinau represent part of the toll trafficking has taken on families in Moldova. The ostentatious new homes at the edges of poor villages and young men driving luxury cars purchased with foreign remittances illustrate the irresistible lure of the trade.

Trafficking represents more than just the selling of human bodies. It is a painfully clear indication of a government's failure to protect its citizens, to provide basic necessities, and to insure civil rights. Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, bears the scars of poor governance, geopolitical tugs-of-war, and internal ethnic struggles.

But it is Moldova's women who are suffering the most in these struggles. If trafficking is to be abated, if Moldova is to get back on its feet economically and politically, and if civil society and democracy are to be strengthened, Moldova needs to pay attention to the rights and democratic responsibilities of women...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Nepal: Supreme Court Grills NGO Over Claims of Sexual Exploitation of Women

KATHMANDU, NEPAL - Supreme Court has issued show cause notice to 17 Government Officers based on the complaint filed in the Court by Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE).

SASANE* had filed contempt of court cases at the Supreme Court against these government offices for flouting the directives issued in 2065 BS by the Court to control sexual exploitation of working women occurring in places such as dance restaurants, cabin, Dohari, massage parlor and dance bar and inflicting more pain on the women.

A single bench of Justice Tap Bahadur Magar gave the order to issue the show cause notice, where Advocates Bagala Regmi, Shyam Pokharel and Ram Raut presented the case on behalf of Pooja Dhimal for SASANE.

Ministry of Women, Children and Social welfare has estimated that number of cabin, Dohori, dance restaurants and massage parlors that are dispersed in different parts of Kathmandu Valley is 1200. Around 50,000 workers are engaged in these businesses and it is estimated that among them 80 percent are women, SASANE stated in a press release today.

Women from the age of 12 to 30 are engaged in the employment, they are forced to engage in unwilling sexual activities and they have to bear the verbal, physical and psychological abuses by customers and managers and helpless women are forced to engage in unethical and disgraceful activities and even sexual intercourse by entrepreneurs and customers under undue influence, greed, and coercion beyond the work-period, the Ministry has stated this in a report.

There is enhanced possibility of trafficking of women working in such work-place and 52.5 percent of them are seduced and incited by persons engaged in trafficking stating that they would seek good jobs in other countries including Hong Kong, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, the Ministry has further stated in the report...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT eKantipur.com

*Captive Daughters was pleased to award our 2009 Annapurna Activists Award to SASANE's director, Shyam Kumar Pokharel, and supports SASANE in their complaint to the Nepal court.

Great Resource: Stop Violence Against Women - stopvaw.org

StopVAW.org - The Stop Violence Against Women website is a forum for information, advocacy and change in the promotionof women's human rights in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

StopVAW.org's section on Trafficking

The Coalition for Adolescent Girls

A fantastic organization that focuses on the health, education and well-being of adolescent girls in poor countries - the most solidly proven method of preventing sex trafficking.