Freedom Network Member Coalition of Immokalee Workers Receives Four Freedoms Award
Our congratulations to Freedom Network member Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), which was among five recipients of the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards[ios1] . In a public ceremony on October 16, in New York City, the Roosevelt Institute honored CIW with the Freedom from Want Award for its dedication to establishing more just working and living conditions for agricultural workers across Florida.
Founded in 1993, CIW is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of corporate social responsibility, community organizing, sustainable food, and anti-slavery efforts. With its Fair Food Program, CIW has created a sustainable blueprint for worker-driven corporate social responsibility, winning fairer wages; work with dignity; and freedom from forced labor, sexual harassment, and violence in the workplace for nearly 100,000 workers. Learn more about some of CIW’s cases and the Freedom Network’s recommendations on improving conditions for agricultural workers at Human Trafficking and Farmworkers.
The Roosevelt Institute awards Four Freedoms medals annually to individuals and organizations that demonstrate the principles Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined in his famous January 6, 1941 address, in which he asserted that for democracy to flourish, all people are entitled to four human rights: freedom of speech, freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom of worship. Past recipients of the awards include Presidents Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton; Senator Ted Kennedy; Secretary Hillary Clinton; Elie Wiesel; and international honorees Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Aung Sun Suu Kyi. The other 2013 recipients included Wendell Berry, Paul Krugman, Ameena Matthews, and Sis. Simone Campbell.
Find out more about CIW at www.ciw-online.org.
October 17, 2013
Re: HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health and Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific
Dear Mr. Sidibé and other interested parties:
The Freedom Network (USA), which was established in 2001, is a coalition of 35 non-governmental organizations and individuals that provide services to, and advocate for the rights of, trafficking survivors in the United States. Since the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), Freedom Network (USA) members have worked closely with trafficked people to ensure that they receive necessary services guaranteed under the TVPA and have also been engaged in ensuring effective implementation of the law. The Freedom Network, through its members, has served the majority of individuals certified in the United States as “victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.” We are recognized experts on the scourge of trafficking and hold annual national conferences for service providers, policy advocates, government agencies, and law enforcement to share resources and information and formulate a collective strategy to combat trafficking. The Freedom Network adopts a rights-based framework which our members apply to for their anti-trafficking services, outreach, collaboration, and training.
We write in response to the campaign by Equality Now to discredit certain findings and recommendations in the Global Commission on HIV and the Law’s report, HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health (2012), published by UNDP, and the UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS-backed report, Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific (2012). Equality Now contends that decriminalizing prostitution will increase human trafficking, and that the UN should reconsider its position. Equality Now has stated that anti-trafficking organizations support this campaign, however, not all anti-trafficking organizations ascribe to the same approach to prostitution. The Freedom Network finds it concerning and misleading to call for continued criminalization of sex work in the name of ending human trafficking. In contrast, the Freedom Network believes that policy-makers can work to bring an end to human trafficking without compromising the rights of individuals engaged in commercial sex.
Sex workers have lived on the margins of society through most of history. The human rights of sex workers are routinely abused in countries around the globe. One extreme form of abuse sex workers suffer is human trafficking. The international human rights community should be concerned with eradicating this harm. However, protecting the rights of all sex workers, promoting their health and safety, and teaching sex workers about human trafficking are some of the best ways to prevent human trafficking.
We find it important to highlight key facts:
- Sex workers are human beings and are entitled to human rights. Because sex work is stigmatized and criminalized, sex workers often face discrimination, violence, and abuses of their rights. Human trafficking survivors who have engaged in sex work face these same violations.
- Attempts to eradicate sex work often violate the basic human rights of sex workers. Crackdowns on the sex industry usually fall heaviest on sex workers, who are at high risk of sexual and physical assault by police.
- Human rights violations of sex workers create an environment where trafficking can flourish. When sex workers are afraid of law enforcement, dangerous working conditions result. Sex workers who cannot rely on one another or the police for protection are more likely to become involved with abusive third-parties such as traffickers. Sex workers who are afraid of law enforcement will be unlikely to report crimes, like trafficking, that they experience or observe.
- Not all people who work in the commercial sex industry are trafficked. Some choose to do sex work, while others find sex work to be the only way of supporting themselves and their families given their circumstances.
Equality Now espouses the “Swedish Model” under which clients of sex workers are criminalized. However, even some laws intended to penalize patrons, pimps, and traffickers can negatively impact sex workers. For example, laws may criminalize certain acts sex workers do to keep themselves and their peers safe, like sharing clients, space, or resources. In many cases, clients of trafficking victims have come forward to police with information – leading to successful prosecutions of traffickers. Increased criminalization of sex workers’ clients will make it more difficult for them to come forward, and divert resources from prosecuting abusive traffickers.
We applaud the UN for the approach taken in their reports, which prioritize the health and safety of sex workers. We find the cited UNDP reports to be helpful in recognizing the human rights concerns affecting many sex workers and other vulnerable populations around the globe. These reports have recognized that inequity, social injustice, and laws have had a hand in making HIV a public health crisis. The drafters of these reports went to great lengths to include sex workers who are directly affected by HIV and criminal justice policies, as recently issued statements from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects,1 Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers,2 the African Sex Workers Alliance,3 and the National Network Of Sex Workers – India 4 attest. Not all individuals who have engaged in commercial sex or have been trafficked agree on the best legal approach to prostitution, but these voices are equally important. Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific provides a valuable critique of practices such as harassing sex workers for carrying condoms and compulsory HIV testing, detention, and re-education. HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights & Health calls for vigorous enforcement of anti-trafficking laws but repeal of punitive laws that target sex workers, concluding that “the legal environment in many countries exposes sex workers to violence and results in their economic and social exclusion.” These reports rightly focus on reducing harm to sex workers while treating sex workers as valuable partners in the fights against HIV and for the rule of law.
We cannot understand the spread of HIV, human trafficking, or other harms affecting sex workers in isolation from the social and legal structures that either prevent or promote these harms – and these reports are an important contribution to the conversation. We commend the UNDP, UNAIDS, and UN Women for their work. We ask that they continue to promote and work towards the recommendations outlined in these reports.
Yesterday, Freedom Network Co-chairs Ivy Suriyopas and Suzanne Tomatore attended a reception at the White House to launch Partnership for Freedom, a new public-private partnership. Many Freedom Network members were in attendance and participated in a day-long event involving faith-based leaders.
The Partnership for Freedom is a new initiative launched to challenge the barriers that survivors of human trafficking face each day. Humanity United, a private foundation, has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation in announcing the official start of the Partnership for Freedom’s first innovation challenge—Reimagine: Opportunity.
Through a series of three innovation challenges, the Partnership for Freedom encourages organizations and communities from across the country to submit new ideas to improve and increase services for human trafficking survivors. This public-private partnership was first announced by President Obama during his landmark speech on human trafficking in September 2012.
The first challenge is on sustainable housing. There is a shortage of emergency, transitional and long-term housing for survivors, particularly for men and survivors of labor trafficking. Applications will be accepted until November 17. Two additional opportunities to develop solutions will be presented in 2014 and 2015.
Learn more at www.partnershipforfreedom.org or follow #P4F on Facebook and Twitter.
The Freedom Network commends the Uniform Law Commission’s (ULC) approval of the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking. Over the last two years, Freedom Network members have regularly participated as official observers to this drafting process, actively making suggestions, comments, and offering technical support. Our expert members have shared many examples of challenges that our clients have faced with state and federal prosecutions under current law, accessing appropriate benefits and services, and difficulties accessing restitution or relief through civil litigation.
Human trafficking is a complex human rights issue that is multifaceted. This law encompasses the various issues that survivors of all forms of human trafficking face when encountering the legal system and allows for provisions for services. We are particularly impressed by the sections on the vacating convictions and immunity of prosecution of minors, restitution for survivors, and the ability to access the civil legal system for compensation. We also applaud the particular sections that address labor trafficking, such as business liability and forced labor. While all 50 states now have laws on human trafficking, they vary greatly in their content. There is still a great need for a uniform approach that clarifies criminal sections and provides relief for victims to access services as appropriate. We believe that this framework is a fine model and we look forward to using it for advocacy in our member’s states to create more comprehensive state laws on human trafficking.
The ULC, now in its 122nd year, comprises more than 350 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states.
For more information on the Uniform Law Commissions approval of this new law, click here.
Dear Secretary Kerry and Ambassador CdeBaca:
The Freedom Network (USA) commends the U.S. State Department for the release of the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The continued prioritization of this annual report is just one example of the government’s relentless commitment to eradicating human trafficking around the globe.
The Freedom Network was established in 2001 to promote a human rights-based approach to human trafficking. The Freedom Network is a coalition of nearly 35 service providers and individuals working directly with survivors of human trafficking across the United States. As such, we are uniquely situated to evaluate responses to human trafficking. The 2013 TIP Report accurately identifies critical challenges in the anti-trafficking field, including providing adequate services to male victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, and ensuring victims are not re-victimized or criminalized by inappropriate government policies or practices. Based on our service experience, the members of the Freedom Network know that these challenges demand immediate attention in the United States. We look forward to partnering with the range of federal government agencies highlighted in the TIP Report to ensure that all trafficking victims have access to comprehensive services and are treated with respect and dignity.
The Freedom Network was pleased to attend this year’s TIP Report release in Washington D.C. and celebrates the accomplishments highlighted in the Report. An important accomplishment is the re-authorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in March. This was a tremendous win for the anti-trafficking community, which included helpful new provisions like expanding criminal prohibitions of fraud in foreign labor contracting to work performed outside of the United States.
We are pleased to see that the report emphasized the importance of training for federal agencies. The Freedom Network understands that training in recognizing all aspects of the crime of human trafficking and the protection of victims has long been recognized as a necessary step in the identification and subsequent action required for both traffickers and survivors.
The Freedom Network commends the U.S. State Department for the emphasis on substantive training for law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary, first responders and other government officials as well as for NGOs, IOs, and members of civil society.
The Freedom Network looks forward to the implementation of the all-government training efforts detailed in the Strategic Action Plan. These efforts will serve as a model for other countries and, hopefully, will reveal an increase in the number of cases identified, traffickers prosecuted, and survivors assisted. We are especially pleased with the wording in the Report that states, “training efforts should be based on policies and procedures that provide trainees with clear guidance for action: what to do when encountering an individual who may be the victim of human trafficking or a situation characterized by indicators of trafficking.”
Since 2003, the Freedom Network Training Institute has provided a comprehensive multidisciplinary training to diverse audiences across the country and internationally. Our goal has been to model a team approach and to have all the relevant actors in the audience. We utilize a faculty with years of direct experience working on cases as legal and social service providers. We have trained tens of thousands of individuals from all branches of law enforcement, faith-based groups, NGOs, and other interested persons. The strength of our training is that it is based on experience with hundreds of cases and is
accompanied by technical assistance follow-up. This comprehensive approach to training on human trafficking has a proven track record. We applaud how the TIP Report section on training reiterates the importance of in-depth training that goes beyond awareness-raising. We have long been recognized for our partnerships with government agencies, law enforcement, and all those directly involved with human trafficking cases. We look forward to assisting in further training efforts in the whole-of government approach and whole-of-government commitment. We urge all agencies to utilize a multidisciplinary approach that includes NGO service providers with case experience, for access to
appropriate services for victims is a vital component of every response to trafficking.
Protection of Domestic Workers:
The Freedom Network lauds the State Department’s efforts to address the ongoing problem of domestic workers being exploited and abused in the households of diplomatic and consular personnel and foreign employees of international organizations. Briefing the heads of foreign embassies of their obligations as well as meeting with domestic workers separately to apprise them of their rights is a praiseworthy first step in the right direction. The Freedom Network hopes that the State Department and other agencies, such as the Department of Labor, continue to work with employers and employees by ensuring that meetings of this nature are ongoing on at least a semiannual basis. Moreover, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol should speak with domestic worker employees as they enter the United States, away from their diplomatic and consular employers, to explain to them their rights at entry and to inform them of resources they can access should they need assistance. Finally, the Freedom Network continues to support efforts to amend federal and state laws so that all domestic workers are afforded the same minimal employment protections as workers in other industries so that they are no longer as vulnerable to workplace abuses and exploitation.
We commend federal prosecutors for their ongoing efforts to bring traffickers to justice. At the same time, we hope more attention will be brought to the following issues in the future.
The TIP Report does not indicate what criteria law enforcement agencies used when reporting the number of human trafficking-related investigations. The TIP Report also provides no data about the disposition of the almost 2,400 listed human trafficking-related investigations. The difference between the total number of investigations and the number of actual prosecutions – only 128 – is significant. For the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of federal law enforcement responses to human trafficking, an explanation for this disparity is important.
The prosecutions data in the TIP Report lacks the clarity necessary to allow an accurate evaluation of law enforcement priorities. The data related to total federal human trafficking prosecutions – a total of 128– is presented in the aggregate, combining data from USAOs, the HTPU, and the CEOS. The data for sex and labor trafficking of adults – 55 prosecutions – reflects only “DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in coordination with USAOs.” Another 18 prosecutions were initiated by “CEOS, in coordination with USAOs.” This leaves unexplained at least 55 of the 128 USAO/HTPU/CEOS total prosecutions. The Freedom Network encourages transparency in the reporting of human trafficking prosecutions.
The human trafficking convictions data reflects “cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of children.” (emphasis added). It is not clear from this data whether the perpetrators were convicted of – or pled guilty to – charges of forced labor or sex trafficking, or whether the charges initially alleged human trafficking offenses but the verdicts or pleas were for lesser offenses. There also is no indication of how many of the convictions involved sex trafficking of children, as opposed to forced labor or sex trafficking of adults. Again, this data would be useful to evaluate prosecutors’ priorities and effectiveness.
There remain a disproportionate number of federal investigations and prosecutions involving sex trafficking, as opposed to labor trafficking. The Freedom Network is concerned that law enforcement is far more likely to investigate sex trafficking, and the data – as compared to the actual number of victims – reflect this imbalance.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
We also want to applaud the U.S. Senate’s immigration bill’s inclusion of anti-trafficking provisions, including regulation of foreign labor recruiters. If the immigration bill is passed into law, a labor recruiter would be required to take several important steps such as disclosing the terms of the jobs for which he recruits and posting a bond sufficient to cover his responsibilities to workers. The bill prohibits recruiters from charging fees to many workers; if it becomes law, this prohibition would be an important step toward preventing trafficking since recruitment fees reduce a worker’s ability to leave an abusive
workplace and can lead to debt bondage. We regret that the Senate proposes to allow foreign exchange visitors – the largest group of temporary workers each year – to be charged recruitment fees. If Congress passes these labor recruitment provisions into law, we look forward to working with the Departments of State and Homeland Security on how regulations can most meaningfully protect workers from trafficking and other labor abuses. The bill also includes additional provisions that may have a direct impact on reducing trafficking or assisting victims of this crime, including (1) CBP officer training in recognizing child trafficking victims; (2) DHS employment of child welfare professionals at the seven border crossings with the highest number of unaccompanied minors; (3) increasing the U visa cap to 18,000 annually; and (4) whistle-blower protections for people who have suffered violations of labor and employment laws
Forced Into Prostitution — and Denied a Lifeline by Florrie Burke, Chair Emeritus of the Freedom Network
I’m an advocate for victims of human trafficking, and I’ve witnessed a lot of pain and suffering. But I’ll never forget the day I met two teenage girls at a District Attorney’s office the day after they escaped a brothel. As the girls sat there clutching the teddy bears that are usually given to children, they told me they had been forced to have sex with multiple men without condoms. One of the girls described a painful, burning vaginal infection that became so severe that the trafficker took her to the clinic. While she was there, she and her friend made an escape plan. When they returned the following day for follow up they ran out of the building and asked for help from a passer-by, who took them to the police.
Thankfully, this girl had a treatable infection. But many sex trafficking victims are not so lucky…to read more go here:
At the White House Forum to Combat Human Trafficking yesterday, Freedom Network founder and Chair Emeritus Florrie Burke was presented with the first ever Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The award is for her “sustained dedication and unparalleled leadership in combating modern slavery through the development and delivery of comprehensive services and the empowerment of survivors to move from slavery to independence, and the transformation of policy to eradicate all forms of human trafficking.” It is signed by President Barack Obama.
The award was presented by Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Ambassador Luis CdeBaca of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State.
In a subsequent ceremony, Secretary of State John Kerry presented a medal to Florrie at the White House Forum on Human Trafficking. Congratulations Florrie!
Confronting Human Trafficking: Defining Priorities in 2013
April 17 & 18, 2013
The 11th Freedom Network Annual Conference “Confronting Human Trafficking: Defining Priorities in 2013″, is being held in the Washington DC area, April 17 and 18, 2013.
DETAILED AGENDA NOW AVAILABLE! CLICK HERE!
This year’s conference includes a specific law enforcement track as well as tracks generally dedicated to legal services and social services, and the Freedom Network Training Institute. Plenaries include: one with the Trafficking divisions of the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security; another “New Federal Initiatives to Combat Human Trafficking”; and a third by the Department of Defense on their efforts to combat human trafficking.
Conference keynote speakers are:
Tonya T. Robinson
Special Assistant to the President for Justice & Regulatory Policy
Domestic Policy Council│The White House
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
U.S. Department of State
A great deal of information about all aspects of human trafficking is conveyed at this annual conference by experts with years of experience working in the field, such as case managers, researchers, legal advocates, counselors, prosecutors, enforcement agents, etc.
The conference is being held at the Doubletree Crystal City, a short shuttle from the airport and from the Pentagon City Metro stop, with a special rate for conference attendees.
The latest agenda is available here.
The conference will be held at:
300 Army Navy Dr.
Arlington, VA 22202
A special rate of $224 per night for the Freedom Network conference attendees is available. To reserve a room for the conference, please click here.
The U.S. Department of State reports that as many as 27 million individuals are trafficked worldwide,and estimates show that more than half of victims subjected to forced economic exploitation are female and 98% of sexually exploited victims are female. A significant number of individuals are born in the United States and trafficked domestically, many of whom are girls and women.
Individuals trafficked into any form of labor are at high risk of sexual assault, STD transmission, HIV transmission, and sometimes irreparable damage to their reproductive health. Trafficked women are also in danger for unwanted pregnancy. Survivors of trafficking into the sex industry, servile marriage, and domestic work are particularly vulnerable. To read our new paper please click here.
The Freedom Network Applauds the Senate for Passing VAWA
The Freedom Network applauds the senate for passing the Violence Against Women Act including protections for survivors of human trafficking. Thank you to Senator Patrick Leahy for including amendment 93-5 to allow survivors of trafficking to continue on the road to recovery. We look forward to the House taking up the same version of the bill that includes these important protections so that this bill finally becomes law.