Decision in Cruz v. Maypa Case Released

The Freedom Network would like to congratulate Dana Sussman and the pro bono team at Gibson Dunn for their work on the Cruz v. Maypa case. The decision was released yesterday and cites the ten-year statute of limitations under the TVPRA. Special thanks to Munger, Tolles & Olson for representing the Freedom Network and Damayan in the amicus brief.

FN member Suzanne Tomatore attends meeting in Austria

Former Freedom Network Co-chair and current Steering Committee member Suzanne Tomatore was invited to attend a meeting in Vienna, Austria, by the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) October 22 & 23 for a two day meeting on the role of recruitment fees and recruitment agencies in trafficking in persons. Recruitment fees are often mentioned as a factor that can fuel trafficking in persons. A group of 25 experts were convened from various countries including Serbia, Mexico, The Gambia, Zambia, Uganda, and throughout Europe. About half the group was government officials or agents, including a police chief from Germany and an immigration official from Spain. About one third of the group consisted of representatives from UN affiliated agencies that work on policy. Only four direct service providers were invited, including Ms. Tomatore.

The meetings were informal and all participants had the opportunity to present and comment on various subtopics. UNODC has contracted with consultants from Verité and others to draft a report that will be ready next year.

Ms. Tomatore prepared a presentation with an overview of U.S. trafficking laws on labor, provided some case studies from her docket at the City Bar Justice Center, where she is the director of the Immigrant Women & Children Project, and she presented some U.S. civil cases.

The group came up with recommendations at the end of the second day, including:

·         Transparency for both the recruiter, the employer and the employee

·         No identification documents should be withheld

·         Freedom to change employment

·         Access to remedy

·         Safe working conditions

·         Workers are paid timely and directly

(See to read more about Freedom Network’s support of regulations of foreign labor recruiters.)

Ms. Tomatore stated that she learned quite a lot at these meetings. “Israel for example, has an agreement with the Thai government to recruit foreign workers and promoted bi-lateral agreements as a way to curb exploitation and fraud in labor contracting. There was a lot of discussing of recruitment fees and other expenses and different approaches. Overall, it was a very interesting and engaging discussion on fair labor practices.” Ms. Tomatore also shared with the group some findings from the recent report from the Urban Institute Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States.

For more information on fraud in foreign labor contracting – see Freedom Network’s advocacy papers.

Freedom Network Members at New York Law School’s Human Trafficking Symposium

Last week, several Freedom Network members were involved in New York Law School’s Symposium titled, “Innovations in the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Perspectives and Proposals.” Freedom Network members gathered, with other leaders in the field, to discuss barriers, trends, and share innovative approaches to combat human trafficking. Members contributed to the conversation as expert panelists, keynote speakers, and moderators. Here are a few photos from the event!


Melynda Juhu Ivy Kathleen Kate Denise

NY Law School Florrie Pam

NY Law School Florrie Pat Dan etc

NY Law School Ivy Denise


CIW to receive 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award!

On September 21st, Freedom Network member, Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), will be honored as a recipient of the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award.  Every year, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) presents this award to “honor outstanding individuals in civil society, philanthropy, public service, and the private sector who exemplify global citizenship through their vision, leadership, and impact in addressing global challenges.” Previous honorees include education activist Malala Yousafzai, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, former NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, among a whole host of internationally recognized activists, social entrepreneurs, civic, and foundation leaders.  

CIW will receive the award for their Fair Food Program, which has made a significant impact on labor conditions in Florida’s tomato industry. The Freedom Network would like send our sincerest congratulations to all the CIW staff for this prestigious honor!

You can read more about CGI’s announcement and CWI’s work here.

Release of Inaugural Freedom Network Member Report

The Freedom Network (USA) proudly announces the release of its inaugural Freedom Network Member Report, which covers the work and experiences of its member organizations and the trafficking cases on which they worked from 2010 to 2012.

This report, available at, marks the Freedom Network’s first comprehensive, public report designed to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about the numbers and demographic realities of trafficked persons in the United States.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Freedom Network members served more than 2,236 survivors of human trafficking from 2010 through the end of 2012.
  • The vast majority (73 percent) of trafficked persons served by Freedom Network members during the period had been trafficked for labor in a variety of industries across the United States.
  • Freedom Network members served an estimated 39 percent of the individuals who received T visa approvals during the same time period.
  • Fifty-five percent of the trafficking survivors served by Freedom Network members were from Asian countries, and about one-third were from Latin American countries.
  • While the majority of trafficking survivors served identified as females, almost half identified as males.
  • Community-based organizations referred almost half of all trafficking survivors served by Freedom Network members.

The report reflects the needs and experiences of human trafficking survivors across the United States, and includes policy and practice recommendations for a more effective response to anti-trafficking work.

About the Freedom Network

The Freedom Network (USA) is a coalition of 39 non-governmental organizations and individuals that provide services to, and advocate for the rights of, trafficking survivors in the United States using a human rights-based, empowering approach. Founded in 2001, its members are leaders and experts in the field. The Freedom Network recognizes that human trafficking is fueled by complex and interconnected factors, including poverty and economic injustice, racism, gender-based discrimination, and political strife. At its core, the crime of trafficking is a violation of an individual’s basic rights and personal freedom. Thus, we believe that a rights-based approach is fundamental to combating human trafficking and ensuring justice for trafficked persons. Learn more at

Kindly share with your networks using #FNReport.

2014 Release Event of the Trafficking in Persons Report

2014 Release Event of the Trafficking in Persons Report

By Florrie Burke, Freedom Network Chair Emeritus

Each June for 14 years the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP Office) at the Department of State releases their annual report. The report assesses the response to human trafficking by governments around the world.  It serves as a report card and a road map for the future. One hundred, eighty-eight governments were looked at this year. There are four rankings – Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3.  This years’ report downgraded Venezuela, Malaysia, and Thailand to Tier 3.

The report also features TIP heroes – people from various parts of the world that have made significant contributions to combating human trafficking. The American Bar Association (ABA) held a side event the day before the report rollout to give the heroes an opportunity to discuss their work. This was a highlight.  Ten heroes – ten countries.  The following countries were represented: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.


ABA Side Event

ABA Side Event

Each of the heroes does amazing work, and it was interesting to hear about challenges similar to ours – the need for buy-in from law enforcement, a different approach to forced prostitution, the need to define labor trafficking, shelter, and other services for victim-survivors.  It was especially gratifying to hear a young Judge from Nepal talk about how he has instituted victim-centered practices in his country.

Ambassador Luis CdeBaca and TIP Hero Tek Narayan Kunwar

Ambassador Luis CdeBaca and TIP Hero Tek Narayan Kunwar

Freedom Network (USA) member Laura Germino from Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and I talked with the hero from India, Bhanuja Sharan Lal, who is working to dismantle systems of trafficking in the brick kilns and quarries.  He has set up shelter and schooling for children freed from forced labor.

Laura Germino, TIP Hero Bhanuja Sharan Lal, and Florrie Burke

Laura Germino, TIP Hero Bhanuja Sharan Lal, and Florrie Burke

On the morning of June 20th hundreds crowded into the beautiful Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State.  Members of Congress, representatives from many federal agencies such as the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Justice, Homeland Security, and others were there.  NGOs, faith-based organizations, and many others who work on the issue of combating human trafficking and providing services to survivors were represented.  Freedom Network members Maja Hasic from Tapestri, Avaloy Lanning from Safe Horizon, Laura Germino and Julia Perkins from CIW, and I were there.

2014 TIP Report Release

Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights spoke first and reminded us “it takes a global village to fight a global crime.”

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca spoke about this year’s theme, The Journey from Victim to Survivor. This is part three of the narrative arc that began in the 2012 report with emphasis on a Victim-Centered Approach and then Victim Identification.  Freedom Network members are gratified at this emphasis and have contributed important feedback to the creation of the narrative portion of the reports.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, introduced the Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 and made some critical statements.  He said, “This is not just a report, this is a call to action.”  When addressing supply chains, he said, “This is not just about products, it is also about lines of responsibility.”  For many in the room who travel internationally, it was important to be reminded that wherever we go in the world, we have to raise the issue as there is no greater threat to human dignity and assault on freedom as human trafficking.

Secretary Kerry also talked about the new initiative, Made in a Free World. This is an outgrowth of Slavery Footprint and partners with the J/TIP Office to look at slavery from all perspectives and to give consumers and citizens a chance to do something about it.

Secretary of State John Kerry (Photo courtesy of Christina Arnold)

Secretary of State John Kerry (Photo courtesy of Christina Arnold)

Some new information in the report was an emphasis on vulnerable populations such as indigenous peoples and LBGT individuals. There is also an interesting piece on the intersection of human trafficking and environmental degradation.

As Freedom Network members, we often struggle with issues related to the media – how to use it to our advantage and how to involve survivors.  The 2014 TIP Report includes some helpful ‘Media Best Practices.’

In addition to the country reports, there is a great deal of rich information.

It is both exciting and discouraging to read the report and attend these events – as the TIP hero from Trinidad and Tobago, Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, said, “Despite global efforts, human trafficking goes unabated. We cannot become complacent. We have to be relentless.”

Freedom Network Chair Emeritus and 2013 Presidential Awardee Florrie Burke with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca

Freedom Network Chair Emeritus and 2013 Presidential Awardee Florrie Burke with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca

My Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons was completed in May 2014, so I decided this was a perfect place to wear it!

Read more about the Freedom Network’s contributions and feedback to the J/TIP Office’s annual report.

FN objects to S-2602 and H-7612

Freedom Network policy team drafts objection letter to Rhode Island House of Representatives regarding SB 14-S 2602 and HB 14-H 7612.

“We urge you to ensure that the definition of human trafficking focuses on prosecution of the perpetrators of forced labor and sexual exploitation, preventing such acts from occurring, and protecting all victims of modern day slavery. As written, S-2602 and H-7612 trivialize the slavery and exploitation, while placing all women and men involved in the sex trade – as well as others who assist them – at serious risk.” – Freedom Network USA

NYT: House Passes Bills Aimed at Stemming Human Trafficking

Times Piece published Tuesday, May 20 2014. Freedom Network has submitted position papers to Senate representatives in response to these bills. Position papers can be found on our policy page.

A huge thank you to our Policy co-chairs, Cindy Liou and Griselda Vega and the whole policy team for their attention to detail and continued commitment to the Freedom Network mission.

FN Policy team shares position paper on S.1733

The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (S.1733) was introduced in the House in November 2013. Freedom Network shares position on the act, here.

Track the bill.

Freedom Network Opposes FORTE Act #HR4586

Freedom Network Opposition letter to FORTE (HR4586)

Track the bill.

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