Get to know Tapestri: A Freedom Network Member making an Impact Across the Southern USA.

 

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The Freedom Network USA is working to strengthen the relationships between member organizations. We believe strong bonds encourage the sharing of information, and this new series of interviews on the Freedom Network blog with members will help us build those bonds and do better work together.

We’re kicking-off the interview series with a chat with Maja Hasic at Tapestri in Atlanta. Tapestri has a 14-year history of service to immigrant and refugee families impacted by domestic violence and exploitation. Taprstri has supported victims throughout Atlanta and The South with expertise in case management, housing assistance, counseling and legal advocacy. Maja is proud of the partnerships Tapestri has built with service providers in Atlanta and across the region.

Tapestri supports organizations in eight Southern states with training and technical assistance, offering education on victim intake interviews, counseling and mental health support, immigration rules and more.

“Tapestri knows we’re stronger together. We share our knowledge with organizations supporting victims, giving them the tools to do great work.”

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Maja is a big fan of the Freedom Network community, having tapped into the expertise of the network numerous times for information on obtaining visas and most recently, civil litigation of traffickers.

Freedom Network Member Martina Vandenberg at The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center connected Tapestri with Audra Dial, managing partner of the Atlanta office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton for the purpose of promoting justice through civil litigation. This partnership led to the first civil litigation judgment against traffickers in the state of Georgia. A $365,000 award was secured for a victim forced into domestic service for nearly two year; the woman thought she had taken a two-week job in Georgia catering the wedding of the Ellenwood couple’s son.. Learn more about Tapestri and their services in Atlanta and throughout the South on their website.

Is your organization committed to combatting human trafficking from a human rights perspective? The Freedom Network is growing and we invite you to learn more about membership and explore joining our community!

New Attorney General Loretta Lynch Is Sex Traffickers’ Worst Nightmare

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[Joshua Lott/Reuters]

According to a recent article posted by The Daily Beast, pimps may have cheered when the GOP used a trafficking bill to block the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, America’s most successful prosecutor of pimps. But now she’ll be coming for them.

As the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch has been the nation’s most aggressive and successful prosecutor of sex traffickers. Her office has indicted more than 50 traffickers and rescued more than 120 victims, at least 17 of them minors.

With her Senate confirmation, Lynch suddenly has considerably more power. That is sure to translate into more pimp indictments and extraditions, as well as mother-child reunions.

And by sublime coincidence, her confirmation came the same week as the 13th annual gathering of the Freedom Network USA in Washington, D.C.

“A national alliance of experienced advocates working with survivors of all forms of human trafficking to ensure that trafficked persons have access to justice, safety, and opportunity,” the Freedom Network says of itself.

Freedom Network and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are working tirelessly to end modern day slavery of trafficked persons.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Give Way to Freedom Recognized by State of Vermont

The Give Way to Freedom Organization fights against human trafficking by providing various resources to the local and global community.  Based in Vermont, the organization has partnered with the University of Vermont College of Medicine Public Health Project, as well as the Vermont task force.  Other domestic projects include providing a toolkit and training materials to the Massachusetts General Hospital for health care professionals and coordinating a rapid response support system.

The organization is also associated with various international projects in the fight against human trafficking.  Give Way to Freedom is working on a social action project for women’s crisis centers in Mae Sot, Thailand and is also working with partner program Children On the Edge.  The organization also works with Freedom House in Kisumu, Kenya and the Helen Bamber Foundation in London.

Give Way to Freedom director Edith Klimoski was recently recognized by the state of Vermont and awarded for her work on behalf of survivors of human trafficking.  It is a great achievement to be recognized by the state for the powerful work both she and the organization are doing, and Freedom Network is proud to support this influential agency.

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Freedom Network USA and associated member groups including the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) is recognizing National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April 2015 in the fight against human trafficking.  National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention across the country. This year of 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  Freedom Network USA and member organizations are committed to putting an end to child abuse and human trafficking.

New Conference Workshop: Unaccompanied Alien Children

In 2014, the United States was witness to a surge of Unaccompanied Alien Children entering through he southern border; it is estimated that one third of the youth attempting the crossing ultimately ended up in a trafficking situation.

The Freedom Network is pleased to announce another panel for the 13th annual Freedom Network Conference being held on April 21-22nd in Washington D.C.  The Unaccompanied Alien Children Workshop will take place on Wednesday, April 22 from 3:00-4:00 P.M. and will discuss experienced, barriers and service needs of unaccompanied alien children who are experiencing trafficking. Conference Badge

This panel will discuss the experiences of these children who do enter the U.S. and are then trafficked for labor and sex.  The outcome of this panel is to better enable participants to identify conflicting push and pull factors that lead to the human trafficking, talk about opportunities for service for victims, and how to identify unaccompanied minor victims of trafficking and connect them with existing appropriate support services.

The Freedom Network USA is pleased to announce the following presenters for the Unaccompanied Alien Children Workshop:

Madeline Hannan

Madeline Hannan is the Project Director of ChildRight: New York with the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA). She is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of a statewide response to child trafficking through partnerships with select counties, delivering training and technical assistance, and creating a screening tool and strategic statewide action plan. Ms. Hannan has worked directly with trafficking survivors and vulnerable youth in New York City. As a fellow at the University at Albany, she provided policy analysis on child welfare issues at the state level for the New York State Council on Children and Families. Ms. Hannan was a member of the Executive Management Team as well as the National Training and Technical Assistance Program at Polaris Project in Washington, DC. She earned her M.S.W. from McGill University. During her graduate studies she designed and completed an analytical study of child protection training materials on behalf of the United Nations’ Department of Peacekeeping Operations while concurrently writing a master’s thesis on New York State’s Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act.

Gonzalo Martinez de Vedia

Gonzalo Martinez de Vedia is a Human Trafficking Specialist with the Worker Justice Center of New York, where he investigates labor and sex trafficking through outreach to high-risk workplaces, provides comprehensive case management services for trafficking survivors, and trains law enforcement on trafficking identification and prevention within immigrant communities. As coordinator for the North Country Human Trafficking Taskforce and member of all upstate regional taskforces, Mr. Martinez de Vedia facilitates inter-agency responses to trafficking cases statewide. In 2014, he was appointed to a three-year term on the Ulster County Human Rights Commission. Previously, Mr. Martinez de Vedia served the outreach and advocacy missions of the Cornell Farmworker Program, the Rural and Migrant Ministry, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. He holds a BA cum laude from Cornell University, where he was Founding President of the Immigrant Farmworker Initiative.

Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman

Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman is a true survivor. He grew up in Honduras where he was exposed to extreme violence at the hands of his father.  When he was 14 1/2, he was kidnapped and brought to America where he was trafficked and sold into child sex trafficking in San Diego, CA.  When he was finally rescued from his abductors, he was further traumatized for several years, in a system that was designed to “help” him. Mr. Piraino-Guzman used his interpersonal skills and hope for a better future as a way to survive and persevere. Today he travels the country advocating for youth and teaching caregivers and service providers how to create a relationship of trust and open communication with children who have been abused and traumatized. Recently, Mr. Piraino-Guzman became San Diego Counties’ youngest foster parent. He is a specialist with children who have suffered severe abuse, and therefore, was asked to take an emergency placement; a 14 year old developmentally-delayed child. Mr. Piraino-Guzman is currently the Program Coordinator for the Pathways Initiative for collaboration of agencies in San Diego County to provide therapeutic and behavioral services to victims of violent crimes.

Freedom Network Supports Farmworker Awareness Week

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Freedom Network USA is proud to support Farmworkers Awareness Week and all member organizations that work tirelessly to defend the rights of laborers.

Courtesy of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF)

Farmworkers feed the world- 85% of our fruits and vegetables are handpicked. There are an estimated 2-3 million men, women, and children work in the fields in the United States. Farms are in every state, including yours, yet farmworkers remain largely invisible and continue to live and work in horrific conditions.  We demand dignity for farmworkers.

Farm work is the third most dangerous job in the United States. The people who plant and harvest our fruits and vegetables suffer from the highest rate of toxic chemical injuries of any other workers in the nation and have higher incidences of heat stress, dermatitis, urinary tract infections, parasitic infections, and tuberculosis than other wage-earners.  

Farmworkers are treated differently under the law. Overtime, unemployment insurance, and even protection when joining a union are not guaranteed under federal law. Farmworkers were excluded from almost all major federal laws passed in the 1930s. The Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 1978 to mandate minimum wage for farmworkers on large farms only and it still has not made provisions for overtime.  We work for just living and working conditions for farmworkers and an end to unfair treatment under the law.

For more information about these issues, visit the SAF website.

Here are 5 things you can do today to support farmworkers rights and help end human trafficking.

Freedom Network will present on labor trafficking and other related issues at this year’s annual conference held April 21-22 in Washington D.C.

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5 Things You Can Do Today To Stop Human Trafficking

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Freedom Network member organization CAST LA has shared five ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking.  These tips can be applied to CAST LA or any local FN member organization working on the front lines of ending human trafficking. To find a local FN member organization to support, click here.

FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING:

1. Donate

CAST offers our services for free. So any amount you donate will help survivors of modern-day slavery rebuild their lives.

2. Volunteer

Whether you are a professional with expertise in working with trafficking victims, or you just want to be part of the solution, CAST wants to get you involved!

3. Organize

Grow the movement to end modern-day slavery! CAST can help you use your expertise to organize fund raising events, and start your own community or university anti-trafficking group.

4. Start a Chain Store Reaction

As a consumer, you have the power to support fair trade products. Send an email to your favorite brands demanding a guarantee that their products are slave free.

5. Report a Crime

If you suspect a case of human trafficking, don’t put yourself and others in danger by intervening on the spot. Please report the incident to professionals.

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Image Credit: [Thomas Leuthard]

Exciting Workshop Announced for the Law Enforcement Track

This year’s Freedom Network Conference, “TVPA: Past, Present, and Future: Elevating the Human in Human Trafficking,” will include a track dedicated solely to law enforcement.  As in previous years, this track will include content and interactive workshops that focus on unique ways law enforcement and service providers can overcome challenges to prosecuting human trafficking cases. Leading the discussion in the first session of the track are two experts from the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (Theresa Segovia and Daniel Weiss) and Detective Megan Bruneau from Homeland Security Investigations based in Seattle. They will discuss the intricacies involved in investigating human trafficking cases including engaging survivors in interviews, unique and successful approaches to contacting alleged human traffickers and evidence collection, and experiences that taught us what does not work.  Read on to learn more about the speakers.  Registration is still open and can be found here.  Conference Badge


Theresa Segovia, National Program Manager, Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice. Theresa Segovia is the National Program Manager for the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, within the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice for the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.  Previously, she was the investigator for the Unit, and held collateral duty as the victim-witness specialist for the Criminal Section.  In addition to coordinating investigative efforts for cases involving sex trafficking and forced labor throughout the United States, Ms. Segovia also provides training for law enforcement and NGOs on human trafficking policy, best practices and trends.  She is the liaison to the federally funded human trafficking task forces, and serves on numerous federal anti-trafficking working groups, including the inter-agency committee responsible for the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States.   Before joining DOJ, Ms. Segovia spent eleven years with the Houston Police Department, working first as a senior trainer at the Police Academy, then as a criminal intelligence analyst, in HPD’s Planning and Research Section.   While in Houston, Ms. Segovia served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and represented the Department on several anti-human trafficking coalitions, including the Houston Chapter of Rescue and Restore and the Coalition Against Human Trafficking.


Megan Bruneau, Detective, Seattle Police Department, VICE/High Risk Victims Unit – Human Trafficking; Task Force Officer – Homeland Security Investigations – Seattle. Detective Megan Bruneau has been with the Seattle Police Department for over 15 years. She has been assigned as SPD’s Human Trafficking Detective for 4 years and is a Task Force Officer with Homeland Security Investigations (Seattle office). Megan is dedicated to a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach to human trafficking cases and works to bring creativity and diligence to all investigations. This has allowed her to develop excellent relationships with fellow investigators, prosecutors, and NGO service providers. Megan has provided professional training on human trafficking investigations to law enforcement agencies locally, nationally, and internationally at the request of the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies. As a patrol officer Megan worked in downtown Seattle and assisted the VICE/High Risk Victims Unit, Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit, multiple precinct Anti-Crime Team (ACT) Units, and the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) on various operations. Prior to becoming a sworn police officer in 2006, Megan spent her first five years with SPD as a civilian employee with the Victim Support Team (VST), an on-scene crisis intervention advocacy program for domestic violence victims and their children. After starting as a volunteer and working in the office through the AmeriCorps program, Megan became the VST Supervisor from 2003 to 2005. Megan is a graduate of the University of Washington.


Daniel Weiss, Senior Trial Attorney, Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice. Daniel H. Weiss is a Senior Trial Attorney in the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.  Mr. Weiss is a federal prosecutor who focuses on forced labor and sex trafficking prosecutions.  Mr. Weiss has prosecuted cases throughout the United States and has received numerous awards from the Department of Justice, including three special commendations from the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.  Mr. Weiss is a frequent presenter at civil rights conferences and has trained prosecutors, judges and law enforcement officers in the United States and abroad on the victim-centered approach to human trafficking investigation and prosecution.  Mr. Weiss graduated with honors from the University of Maryland School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Federal Jury Awards $14 Million to Indian Workers

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Freedom Network partner Southern Poverty Law Center was part of a successful case that awarded $14 million in punitive and compensatory damages to Indian workers of a Gulf Coast marine services company.  These workers were found to be lured by an immigration lawyer and an Indian labor recruiter to work in a Mississippi shipyard with false hopes of attaining U.S. residency.

 

The men were hired in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and paid high fees to obtain the jobs initially.  Upon arrival, the company, Signal, forced each person to pay $1050 per month to live in a cramped, isolated labor camp.  None of the non-indian workers for the company were required to live in these conditions.

This incident is a step forward in guest workers’ rights, and shows that this type of treatment will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted with success.

For more information on this case, follow this link to SPLC’s website.

*The SPLC’s co-counsel in this case are Crowell & Moring, LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker, and the Louisiana Justice Institute.

To get involved in the flight against human trafficking, please join Freedom Network USA at their 13th annual conference in Washington D.C. on April 21 and 22.

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Worker Justice Center of New York fights for Workers Stolen Wages

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Freedom Network member organization Worker Justice Center of New York was successful in efforts to receive legal compensation for wages on behalf of worker Marco Lino.  Lino worked at a Queens greenmarket and was owed and awarded $51,025.20 in unpaid wages.  Lino and 34 other workers at three restaurants in Upper Manhattan were found to be owed $385,364.34 in unpaid wages from one ownership.  Yet, none of the workers have collected on their awards.  20ABOUT-superJumbo

While these rulings are a positive step forward, the actual collection of unpaid wages is still an arduous process for workers.  While legal documentation is helpful, owners have been known to move assets and to hide money to prevent payment and retribution. For more information about this case, read this article in the New York Times.

To learn more about this issue, please join five Freedom Network members in Civil Litigation Roundtable panel discussion at the 13th Annual Freedom Network Conference as they discuss strategies and benefits to pursing civil damages for human trafficking survivors.  For more information on the featured roundtable, click here.

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