Monday, October 31, 2011

Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers

I wanted to alert all of you to an excellent resource from the IOM that I have just learned about. It came out in 2009 and is entitled "Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers." My colleague at the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, Robin Thompson, does periodic training for physicians and other health care providers as part of the required CME they need on domestic violence and she integrates trafficking awareness and training into that. This book will now be a great resource for these training programs! Downloadable free.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Human trafficking investigated at Juárez shelter for battered women

A well-known advocate for women's rights in Mexico and owner of a women's domestic violence shelter is accused by women in the shelter of prostituting them. Though it's unknown if the allegations are true, it does call to attention the vulnerability of women in such situations.

Human trafficking investigated at Juárez shelter for battered women

Click photo to enlarge
Griensen Porras, Soledad (Special to the Times)

JUAREZ -- Soledad Griensen Porras had been known for almost a decade as a regular figure in the fight for women's rights -- a charitable soul who took food and blankets to the needy and as the owner of a shelter for battered women.

But that image was shattered on Monday after a group of women staying at the shelter accused Griensen of forcing them into prostitution and holding them against their will.

Municipal police said Griensen, the 55-year-old owner of the shelter Mujeres Unidas contra la Violencia (Women United Against Violence), was arrested on Monday after a woman outside the building flagged down a patrol car and reported being abused.

Police rescued eight girls and five women who claimed they were being held against their will. Four of the women have filed complaints against Griensen before state authorities.

According to sources familiar with the investigation, one of the women told authorities that men regularly arrived at the shelter soliciting sex, for which Griensen requested payment. The victim also said that Griensen asked the women for money in order to let them go.

Municipal police said Monday that other victims accused Griensen of beating them and punishing girls by putting chile on their private parts. Police also found pornographic material at the shelter, officials said.

Griensen, who is now in state custody, could face charges of human trafficking, which could be punished with up to eight years in prison. Authorities said they may


add charges for threats, injuries and privation of liberty.

Griensen is expected to appear before the end of the week before a court, which will determine whether there is enough evidence for an investigation to move forward.

Arturo Sandoval, spokesman with the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office, said this could become the first case of human trafficking in the current state administration.

Irma Casas, director of the women's rights organization Casa Amiga, said she was shocked to hear the situations of abuse the women were reporting.

"It is a shame to have this happen because there aren't any spaces for women in high-risk situations," Casas said. "Sadly, this is how we find out what's going on."

Casas said she visited Griensen's shelter about four months ago and didn't notice anything suspicious. She said she thought the small facilities within the house looked clean and in order. She also recently worked with a girl who spent two days at Griensen's shelter and didn't report anything irregular.

She said she had often seen Griensen during protests and focus groups denouncing violence against women. Griensen had been involved in issues of women's rights for the past eight years and was known to work closely with local politicians, Casas said.

Casas said the case should prompt authorities to take a closer look at the shelters operating in the city.

"This is a symptom of the little or null political and social intervention in this topic," she said. "We should evaluate if in the case of Mrs. Griensen there had been an inspection of the spaces and who was in charge of them."

On Tuesday, officers with the state investigative police cordoned off several blocks around the shelter, situated in a residential neighborhood in the center of the city.

Neighbors said the women living in the shelter could be seen outside now and then, but always in the company of Griensen. Police cars were constantly seen outside the shelter because Griensen would explain that girls would escape regularly.

One neighbor who preferred not to be identified said Griensen had an outward personality.

She said that Griensen was known to take groceries, blankets and toys to marginalized neighborhoods in the city, but that yelling could be regularly heard coming from the shelter. The neighbor added that one girl who lived at the shelter used to describe the place as "hell" and once had her long hair shaved off because she had misbehaved.

"I'm not going to tell you she was a nice person," she said. "Outside, she helped a lot, but she didn't treat well the people inside."

Another neighbor who worked with Griensen in the past, though, did not believe the accusations made against her.

"To me all of this seems impossible because I like the work that she does. I really don't think so, but who knows, I'm not going to stick my hands out to the fire either."

She said Griensen had to be strict to control the girls at the shelter, which in the past used to focus on rehabilitating female drug addicts.

She said the shelter received visits and support from high-level politicians -- like the current and past mayors of the city -- as well as doctors, psychologists and academicians, which, she believed, helped prove the legitimacy of Griensen's operations.

"If she has done all that, why would they have helped her so much?" she said.

Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera may be reached at; 546-6129.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Conditions of Detention for Trafficked Persons, Others

Victims of human trafficking have ended up in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Centers. Here's what that is like...

‘Lost in Detention’ online: Government documents on sexual abuse allegations, more

Photo by Mauricio Rabuffetti/AFP Getty Images

A guard stands outside one of the tent-like structures at the Willacy Detention Center in Texas, May 2007

PBS Frontline has followed up last night’s “Lost in Detention” special on the immigrant detention system – and the policies landing a growing number of immigrants in it – with additional materials online.

The Frontline website has posted a series of government documents related to more than 170 allegations of sexual abuse in the last four years, with the largest number of abuse compliants coming from the Willacy Detention Center, a privately operated detention center in Raymondville, Texas that has been nation’s largest. Built from Kevlar domes and commonly referred to as a “tent city,” it was announced in June that the facility was losing its U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, and will instead be housing foreign-born “criminal alien” inmates for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

According to Frontline, their investigation intosexual abuse complaints in the detention system “found no evidence that the vast majority of complaints had been investigated or resolved.” From the website:

Most of the complaints went through the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s (IG) Office, which is the primary office responsible for investigating outside complaints. IG records show only 15 “reports of investigation,” which resulted in six substantiated or partially substantiated cases. Two guards were convicted of sexual abuse; three others have been terminated from their positions.

The documents, together with interviews of dozens of detainees, employees, investigators and officials, present a portrait of detainees with few effective recourses if they are victims of crimes while in detention. Many say they face continuous pressure to sign deportation orders. And unlike in the criminal justice system, immigration detainees do not have a guaranteed right of legal representation, and so have difficulty with access to counsel if they have a grievance.

A former mental health coordinator at Willacy Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas, told FRONTLINE that officials attempted to cover up complaints of sexual abuse, which she described as common among female detainees. The coordinator said she later resigned because of the treatment of detainees at the facility.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pro Bono Lawyers Getting it Done for Victims of Trafficking

Let's take a moment, shall we, and just celebrate the pro bono work of lawyers who represent the most vulnerable members of our society, a subset that undoubtedly includes victims of human trafficking. Rock on, pro bono attorneys, rock on.

Celebrate Pro Bono 2011

As our nation faces economic uncertainty and underfunded state court budgets threaten access to justice, it is more important than ever for us to do what is right as lawyers. National Celebrate Pro Bono Week is an opportunity to reflect and recommit ourselves to pro bono work, which helps our communities grow stronger and makes us better lawyers. The hundreds of events around the country this week remind us that when we volunteer time and expertise to assist the most vulnerable in our society, we help fulfill the promise of justice for all.

Volunteerism is in our professional souls. It's part of our DNA. And it may be the most interesting, challenging and rewarding part of our careers. Pro bono work reminds us why we became lawyers in the first place. Every day, pro bono lawyers provide access to justice for thousands of Americans. Everyone can be sure that lawyers will continue to serve now and in the years to come. It's not just what we do, it's who we are. Celebrate.
Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


By the time Norman Barnes was picked up by Massachusetts state troopers, he had made $19,000 forcing a 15-year-old girl to have sex with up to 8 men a day for 10 days.

He couldn’t have done it without, a classified website owned by Village Voice Media. is reported to be the nation's #1 online platform for advertising sex with minors. A recent letter from 51 Attorneys General to Village Voice Media's lawyers cites over 50 cases (in 22 states) of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors for sex using the site. Although such use violates’s terms of service, the site continually fails to identify and remove ads selling sex with children.

Driven by the universal moral imperative to end child sex trafficking, a new multifaith action network called Groundswell has started a petition on

Sign Groundswell's petition now to shut down the adult services section of -- the only effective way to end child sex trafficking on the site.

Village Voice Media executives are fully aware that their site is used as a platform for child sex trafficking, but have done close to nothing to stop it.

Instead, after executives were confronted by the Attorneys General, the Village Voice ran a shocking cover story 'expose' that smeared hard-working advocacy groups by presenting sensationally low (and poorly researched) statistics on child sex trafficking.

What the story didn’t mention is that Village Voice Media earns $22.7 million a year from its adult services ads on, which it may have to shut down completely (like Craigslist did last year after hearing from 10,000 members) to effectively prevent the site from being used as a platform for selling sex with children.

All Village Voice Media has done so far is throw up a smokescreen to try and hide how they’re providing a platform child sex trafficking on Let Village Voice Media executives know that they can’t hide their complicity. Sign Groundswell's petition to end child sex trafficking on now:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Seriously, Florida?

Again, although this doesn't directly speak to the issue of human trafficking, I need to share this. You see, immigration law dictates that if you are born in the United States, you are a citizen, with all of the privileges and burdens associated with that status. Why would Florida believe it's okay to charge the U.S. citizen children of immigrants higher tuition rates? Seriously? Blood is boiling.

U.S.-citizen children of immigrants protest higher tuition rates

U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants must pay out-of-state tuition in Florida. A lawsuit has been filed to overturn the policy.

   Miami Dade College student Wendy Ruiz appears last week at the annoucement of a lawsuit challenging Florida's tuition rules for citizen children of undocumented families.
Miami Dade College student Wendy Ruiz appears last week at the annoucement of a lawsuit challenging Florida's tuition rules for citizen children of undocumented families.
Photo courtesy of Southern Poverty Law Center


The far-reaching immigration debate in Florida and the nation has been going on for years, but until last week, the plight of students like Wendy Ruiz — an aspiring podiatrist — had been largely invisible.

Born and raised in Miami, Ruiz is a U.S. citizen. But in the eyes of Florida’s higher education system, she’s a dependent student whose parents are undocumented immigrants — and not considered legal Florida residents .

As such, Ruiz is charged higher-priced out-of-state tuition, even though she has a Florida birth certificate, Florida driver’s license and is a registered Florida voter. One semester of in-state tuition at Miami Dade College costs about $1,200, while out-of-state students pay roughly $4,500.

Many students are simply unable to absorb the increased cost. Ruiz has been attending Miami Dade College and, so far, has a 3.7 GPA but must work multiple part-time jobs just to pay for one class. Other similarly-affected students have completely given up on college.

“As an American, and a lifelong Florida resident, I deserve the same opportunities,” Ruiz said. “I know that I will be successful because I have never wanted something so bad in my life like I want this.”

Last week, Ruiz and several other South Florida students emerged as the lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit challenging Florida’s in-state residency guidelines. The same week, a Jacksonville state lawmaker filed a bill that would grant in-state tuition to students like Ruiz.

The lawsuit and the proposed legislation have focused attention on a little-known issue in Florida, where immigration activists have long concentrated on passage of a federal Dream Act.

The proposed Dream Act has languished in Congress for years. It would legalize certain undocumented immigrants who have been accepted into college or the military. These young people were typically brought to the United States illegally as children. Proponents argue they should not be penalized for the illegal actions of their parents.

The Dream Act remains a hot-button political issue. Advocates for a stricter, hard-line immigration policy say passage would reward those who entered the country illegally.

At a recent Republican presidential primary debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry got hammered for his support of a state law that allowed undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition.

Unlike those who would benefit from the Dream Act, the issue for students like Ruiz is radically different because they are, in fact, U.S. citizens.


Many assumed these students were automatically eligible for in-state tuition, including Rolando Montoya, Miami Dade College’s provost and a 25-year college employee.

Within the last two years Montoya discovered the state policy, thanks to an irate mother who demanded to speak with him.

“I said, ‘It must be a mistake,’ ” Montoya recalled. “I was convinced that an error had been made.”

To his dismay, Montoya realized it was no admissions department mix-up.

The lawsuit, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, calls Florida’s policy a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause.

Michael A. Olivas, who teaches immigration and higher education law at the University of Houston, said he was “astounded” by Florida’s actions. Colorado at one time had a similar policy, but abandoned it on the advice of its attorney general, and Olivas said he knows of no other state with significant immigrant populations that is doing this now.

“There’s no asterisk on citizenship,” Olivas said. “Either you are or you are not.”

“This is going to be expensive for them to defend,” Olivas said of Florida. “It’s going to be foolish, and, ultimately, they’re going to lose.”

It’s unclear at this point whether state leaders will vigorously defend the policy, attempt to negotiate new rules via a settlement, or something in between. Officials at both the Florida Department of Education and the Board of Governors — the entities that Southern Poverty Law Center attorneys say created the tuition rule — have declined comment, citing the pending litigation.

The attorneys who filed suit say the policy is the result of administrative rules created in 2005, but they could not pinpoint who spearheaded the creation of those rules or why they did so. Though Florida state law deals with tuition residency issues, it delegates the responsibility to draw up specific rules to the Department of Education (for community colleges) and the Board of Governors (for state universities).


In this particular instance, state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, a Jacksonville Democrat, said he would like to take back that tuition-setting authority. Fullwood on Friday filed a bill that would grant in-state tuition to citizen children of undocumented immigrants provided they attend a Florida high school for four consecutive years and enroll in a Florida college within 12 months after graduation.

Though his bill comes on the heels of the just-filed lawsuit, Fullwood said it was actually in the works for several months — prompted by the difficulties encountered by one of his constituents, a U.S. citizen whose parents hail from Nigeria.

“None of us can control who our parents are,” Fullwood said. “These are all U.S. citizens, folks who have been here all their lives, and they deserve the right to have an affordable education.”

In a Republican-dominated state Legislature that has taken a no-tolerance posture toward illegal immigration, Fullwood acknowledges his bill faces a tough road.

There are at least some early indicators, however, that lawmakers realize this isn’t just a re-do of the Dream Act debate. The Legislature’s point man on immigration, Republican Rep. William Snyder of Stuart, on Friday declined comment on Fullwood’s bill, in part because it had just been filed, but also, he said, because this was a new issue.

State Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican and chair of the Florida Hispanic Caucus, said he supports Fullwood’s bill. Garcia also has supported an unsuccessful Florida version of the Dream Act in the past.

“The Dream Act is a little different,” Garcia said. “When you’re an American citizen you’re an American citizen.”

Read more:

Friday, October 21, 2011

She Was Told She’d Be a Model. Of Course.

She Was Told She’d Be a Model. Of Course.

A stripped-down, socially conscious drama set in the slippery world of human trafficking, Yan Vizinberg’s “Cargo” is commendably free of cheap emotional manipulation. Instead the film leans almost exclusively on the focused performances of its two leads, who create a credibly barbed chemistry that goes a long way toward distracting us from the film’s low-budget deficiencies.

The setup is all too familiar: Natasha (Natasha Rinis), an attractive young Russian woman, has been smuggled into the United States by traffickers posing as modeling agents. Now she’s in the not-so-tender hands of an Egyptian driver, Sayed (Sayed Badreya), who has been entrusted with transporting her from the Mexican border to a buyer in New York City.

A committed Muslim who views his passenger as simply an immoral woman who deserves no better, Sayed treats her like livestock and ignores her pleas for help. But as their journey progresses, Natasha’s repeated escape attempts and refusal to submit earn her captor’s grudging respect; and when they cautiously begin to talk, we think we know how this will play out.

We don’t. The pair may reveal heart-tugging personal details, but their truths are more complicated, and Mr. Vizinberg — who encountered a trafficker while working as a reporter for a Russian television station in New York City — resists the urge to whitewash. By setting up a relationship that’s constantly shifting and uncertain, he combats the claustrophobia of the setting (most of the action is confined to the cabin of Sayed’s van) and the spareness of the story. Between Sayed’s worldview and Natasha’s lies an ideological swamp that’s more effectively hinted at than drained.


Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Directed by Yan Vizinberg; written by Lee Peterkin and Mr. Vizinberg; director of photography, Mr. Vizinberg; edited by Abigail Honor; music by Michael Whalen; produced by Ms. Honor, Chris Cooper and Mr. Vizinberg; released by Persona Films. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Natasha Rinis (Natasha), Sayed Badreya (Sayed) and Philip Willingham (Lukasz).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Human Rights Complaint At the Border

Again, violence directed at the undocumented will only drive victims of trafficking further underground. See below...

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release:Tuesday, October 18, 2011
International Human Rights Commission Hears Case on Anti-immigrant Border Vigilante Activities

Jennifer Allen, Executive Director, Border Action Network 520-820-0360,
Nancy Stanley 520-979-014

WASHINGTON, DC. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) has announced that it will hear a human rights complaint brought by a Tucson immigrant rights organization. The Border Action Network has accused the United States of failing to provide protection and legal remedies for victims of violence and intimidation by anti-immigrant vigilante groups operating along the US-Mexico border in southern Arizona. The complaint, filed in 2005, alleges that the United States is in violation of the rights to life, liberty and personal security, the right to equality before the law and the right to judicial protection as recognized under the OAS' principal human rights instrument, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

The Commission ruled the complaint to be admissible in August 2009 and published a report of its findings at <>. The case is now at the merits stage of the proceedings which means the Commission will determine whether the United States has a duty to prevent, investigate and sanction these armed vigilante groups. The case focuses on 21 incidents occurring in Cochise County, Arizona during the period of 1999-2005 in which private individuals or organized vigilante groups, such as the Minutemen, detained and assaulted people they suspected of being undocumented, some of whom were Mexican-American children.

According to, Jennifer Allen, Executive Director of the Border Action Network, ?We have worked for years to get law enforcement and elected officials to step up and prosecute these groups. We?ve filed lawsuits, sent thousands of postcards, letters from children and petitions to their offices. In spite of this outpouring of local community opposition and legal groundwork, U.S. officials have shirked their responsibilities and enabled these groups to continue.?

Attorneys from the International Human Rights Advocacy Workshop at the University of Arizona College of Law are providing legal representation on this case. The Workshop provides law students the opportunity to get directly involved in high-profile human and civil rights cases. According to the attorneys, ?the case triggers a range of legal issues beyond the controversies detailed in the media. A merits hearing will bring us closer to defining the obligations of the United States to prevent and punish this type of violence under international human rights law. We?re satisfied that we have a strong legal case.?

The hearing will occur at the Commission's headquarters in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, from 9-10 am. Journalists are welcome to attend and do not require credentials to cover this public hearing. Audio recording is allowed but a permit is needed for videotaping. Media questions can be addressed to the Commission's Press Director, Maria Isabel Rivero: (202) 458-3867

Secure Communities

Today's post is not specifically about the law as it relates to human trafficking. However, according to this report, the Secure Communities program violates basic tenets of the rule of law, and must be discussed. When immigrants fear contacting the police for assistance (which is a natural result of a Secure Communities program), then victims of trafficking and other violent crimes must remain underground and they lose a potential source of help. In this way, programs like Secure Communities lead to the further silencing and victimization of trafficked persons, and that's just no good.

Check it out for yourself: The Warren Institute released a new report Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process that provides the first-ever analysis of federal data on people who are arrested and placed in deportation proceedings under the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program. The majority of people arrested in a fast-growing federal immigration enforcement program are jailed without bond, without access to a lawyer, and without a court hearing, according to this research.

Here is the link to the report:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Teens on Trafficking

I am so impressed with this site, started by a 17 year old woman in Arizona. I applaud you, Alexis La Benz. Rock on with your bad self.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Attorneys General Focus on Trafficking

The National Association of Attorneys General – and its new president from WA state – are focusing on human trafficking. Here is the 2nd in the series from NAAG's publicationMEMBER



This is the second of four human trafficking articles to appear in the monthly NAAGazette. These articles are the work of attorneys who participated in the June 2011 National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI) International Fellows Program. Human trafficking is also the focus of NAAG President and Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s 2011-2012 presidential initiative.

In this article, fellows from Bosnia, Iraq, Taiwan, and the United States discussed model laws and best practices for tackling human trafficking. They were asked to start their discussion by reviewing the United Nations’ (UN) model law, noting that there was no expectation for them to come up with language for a model law. They discussed and memorialized in a short paper what a model law might look like. Could there be one law that would be suitable for every state and jurisdiction? What elements must, at a minimum, be included? What elements would be helpful to be included? What is a “model” definition of trafficking? Should the law contain mandatory restitution for victims? Funding for NGO’s? Visa assistance for illegal aliens? Immunity for victims regarding crimes committed while being trafficked? Should it include trafficking in human organs? Should it include human smuggling? How does the UN model law compare with their concept of a model law?

By Tahseen Hasan Mutlag, Attorney at Law, Iraq, Erin Kulpa, Assistant Attorney General, Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Jennifer Stark, Assistant Attorney General, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Zorica Travar, District Prosecutor, Bosnia, andEvelyn Yiyang Wu, Prosecutor, Ministry of Justice, Taiwan

The problem of human trafficking requires cooperation across national borders, among both state and non-state actors, and between national and local governments. Working within this framework of collaboration, state actors should strive to implement the various provisions identified globally as the best legislative practices for combating trafficking. A victim-centered approach, focused on restoring dignity to victims, is key. Thus, state actors must shift the definition of “success” in human trafficking cases from securing a conviction of the traffickers to empowering the victim and bringing them a sense of control and security.

The development of a model anti-trafficking law intended for implementation in countries and jurisdictions around the world is a difficult proposition. While model laws are useful for informing those drafting anti-trafficking laws, model laws can also serve as stumbling blocks for those overwhelmed by the sheer breadth and scope of the law. In some jurisdictions, it may be impractical to expect a legislature to pass all of the necessary pieces of legislation at one time; in such countries and localities, a more measured approach, with individual portions introduced over time, may enjoy greater success. Some states have administrative regulations more appropriate for placing provisions related to victims’ services or civil code provisions for tort recovery from traffickers.

Additionally, with the infinitely varied legal systems found across the globe ― common law, civil law, Sharia law, or some hybrid of any or all of those systems ― it is impossible to design a single law adaptable to all of these systems. Instead of focusing on a model law, state actors should endeavor to adopt and implement laws and procedures, tailored to their individual jurisdictions, which effectively promote the best practices for restoring dignity to victims and combating trafficking globally.

At a minimum, anti-trafficking laws should include both labor and sex trafficking. It is also advisable to incorporate trafficking for the purpose of removing human organs, as the means utilized by traffickers to lure or abduct victims often mirror that used by other traffickers. Smuggling, however, is a separate crime with separate considerations. Although smuggling crimes often intersect with trafficking crimes, it is important that state actors keep these crimes separate to emphasize that transportation is not an element of trafficking and trafficking often involves domestic victims.

While a comprehensive model trafficking law has limited utility, a uniform law defining the crime of human trafficking facilitates cross-border cooperation in investigation and prosecution. The UN definition (Chapter V, Article 8) would be most suitable, as it defines trafficking in persons in one section covering both sex and labor trafficking, as well as trafficking for the purpose of removing human organs. Trafficking crimes involving victims younger than age 18 should not require the element of force, fraud, or coercion. Additionally, because some of the terms used in trafficking laws may be unfamiliar to law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts, definitional sections that explain the terms used are integral to understanding the intent behind the law.

Attacking the demand for commercial sex acts and for inexpensive labor will effectively reduce trafficking. Laws geared towards demand reduction should include increased fines and jail time for those who purchase sex, and licensing forfeitures and civil penalties for employers complicit in the use of trafficked employees. For sex trafficking crimes, the Swedish model offers the best approach for deterrence while ensuring a victim-centered approach to investigation and prosecution. The sale of sex (not including pandering crimes) should be decriminalized in conjunction with the increased penalties forpurchasing sex.

Human trafficking often is the business of larger criminal organizations. For that reason, the most effective strategies for combating trafficking require states to have laws to prosecute all of the elements of these organizations, such as laws prohibiting racketeering-influenced and corrupt organizations, continuing criminal enterprises, and money laundering. Investigative tools, such as strong laws permitting electronic surveillance of these organizations, are critical.

Sentencing for traffickers should reflect the seriousness of these offenses. States should endeavor to enact minimum periods of incarceration for trafficking. Enhanced penalties for the following aggravating circumstances should be included in an effective anti-trafficking law:

  • Trafficking those younger than 18
  • Trafficking of victims who are physically/mentally disabled
  • Repeat offenders of the trafficking law
  • Public officials who facilitate or participate in trafficking
  • Use of violence against a person to facilitate trafficking
  • Moving victims across national borders
  • Traffickers in a position of trust to the trafficking victim
  • These enhancements reflect the aggravated nature of the crime committed by those who use more violent means of trafficking, abuse the vulnerabilities of certain victims, or take advantage of positions of trust or power.

Restitution for victims of trafficking is critical to restoring dignity and control to the victim and to allow the victim to move beyond the trafficking situation. Restitution should be a part of the criminal process, allowing the victim to receive:

  • Lost wages for the period they were trafficked

  • Medical expenses

  • Physical and occupational rehabilitation

  • Counseling expenses

In the event that any of these expenses are paid by the state, the defendant should be ordered to reimburse the state. In order to allow restitution to be paid, states should have the ability to seize the assets of the trafficker or to place liens upon his or her property. States should enact either specific asset forfeiture provisions for trafficking crimes, similar to those in existence of drug trafficking, or should enact general asset forfeiture provisions for all crimes.

Civil damages for trafficking ― allowing victims to bring suits against their traffickers for the physical, mental, and emotional damages they suffered as a result of the trafficking ― should be a separate consideration. Victims can proceed under existing civil remedies, but a separate tort for victims of trafficking is inappropriate. Since there are no separate civil remedies for other crime victims, in some countries, inclusion of such a provision might imply that other crimes are not subject to a suit for civil remedies.

Victims’ services are key to a successful trafficking prosecution. There can be no criminal prosecution if a victim does not feel safe and secure enough to testify. Victims’ services should include both temporary and long-term shelter, job training and placement, psychological counseling, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and medical care. States should supply funding for non-government organizations, through monetary grants, to allow these organizations to provide victims’ services. Perhaps the most important victim service, at least for foreign nationals, is visa assistance for trafficking victims that are undocumented within that country’s borders. These visa provisions should include a path to citizenship for the victim, working permits for the victims, and allowance for the victim to bring family members into the country. The safety of the victim’s family members ― often left behind in the home country and subject to threats of violence by associates of the traffickers ― is crucial to the victim’s sense of freedom and safety.

Best practices dictate that a person who is forced into prostitution, or, as a consequence of the trafficking situation, is in violation of some immigration provision, should not be prosecuted for such crimes. However, immunity is not appropriate for every crime committed in the course of trafficking, such as homicide or violent assaults. A prosecutor should have the discretion in each situation to determine what charges are appropriate.

A comprehensive legislative plan to combat trafficking should include all of the provisions noted above, which are centered on the goal of restoring dignity to victims. Legislation is but one piece of the puzzle, however; effectively ending human trafficking requires not only prosecuting traffickers and protecting victims, but also preventing trafficking from occurring in the first place.