Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feds grant $500K for human trafficking aid

Groups in Erie County, New York have received a $500,000 federal grant to combat human trafficking. Its purpose is to enable a more comprehensive approach to identifying and stopping instances of sex and labor trafficking. Much of the efforts will be victim-centered.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office and a collaborative of local groups received a $500,000 federal grant to better combat human trafficking.

The grant, from the Department of Justice, supports an initiative by the nonprofitInternational Institute of Buffalo , the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a regional task force to prevent human trafficking.

The competitive grant comes through the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking, which works with law enforcement and social service organizations to address victims of human trafficking. The purpose of the award is to support a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking in all forms, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking of both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.

The task force will work collaboratively and with other stakeholders/partners to conduct proactive, victim-centered trafficking investigations; offer a comprehensive array of restorative services to meet victim’s needs; support the prosecution of trafficking crimes on state and federal levels; and enhance community capacity to identify and report trafficking crimes by conducting training, public awareness and outreach activities.

Amy Fleischauer, director of victim services at the International Institute said in a statement the agency is ecstatic. The award also enables the group to continue its work with Farmworker Legal Services of New York on cases of agricultural trafficking.

“Identifying and assisting victims of trafficking on farms — who are often hidden from sight — is a developing area of the field and is critical for informing national human trafficking policy,” she said.

Tim Howard, Erie County Sheriff, said the organization’s commitment to the safety of all human trafficking victims and his department’s pursuit against perpetrators of trafficking crimes is made easier thanks in large part to the grant.

“There is no place today where human trafficking will not be happening in either this county, this state, this country or even our world,” he said. “We must be ever vigilant in our efforts to wipe out this modern day slavery scourge and again, this grant will help us in our dogged pursuit of such.”

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