NGOs Work To Eradicate Human Trafficking, Help Victims
Washington - U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations around the world are working to prevent human trafficking, provide resources to victims and arrest and prosecute child-sex offenders.
From Africa to Europe to Asia, initiatives are raising worldwide awareness of the illegal practice of human trafficking.
According to the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, human trafficking involves forced or coercive methods of transporting individuals, including children, for purposes that include sexual exploitation and forced labor.
Trafficking victims, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, have “either never consented or, if they initially consented, that consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abusive actions of the traffickers.”
PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING
In West Africa, the Lutrena Project for the Mobilization and Building Capacity of Road Haulers, a local NGO, formed an alliance with the National Truckers Union in Burkina Faso to intercept and repatriate human trafficking victims.
The project established an anti-trafficking alert system at bus stations in seven of the 13 regions where child trafficking is prevalent and successfully intercepted 549 children, including four girls, in 2006 and enabled the prosecution of 29 traffickers.
The anti-trafficking network in Burkina Faso includes representatives of truckers' unions, security forces and social action and religious groups who identify and report suspected trafficking situations.
In Cambodia, the ChildSafe network, created and managed by the NGO Friends International, helps crack down on child-sex tourism by training drivers of moto-taxis to identify and report suspicious behavior by tourists who may intend to exploit children.
The ChildSafe project has trained 36 moto-taxi drivers and employees of 25 guesthouses to identify and protect children who are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in Sihanoukville, a beach resort town.
Shakti Samuaha in Nepal is the first NGO in the world formed by trafficking survivors, and more than 120 survivors attended its conference in March to commemorate International Women’s Day. Conference participants focused on preventing human trafficking of vulnerable populations, particularly adolescent girls, and providing rehabilitative services for other trafficking survivors.
The NGO INCIDIN, a prominent advocate of children’s rights in Bangladesh, works to prevent underage male prostitution in the country. INCIDIN has worked to shed light on this phenomenon and to remove the stigma of discussing it. INCIDIN opened a night shelter for street children in Dhaka and worked with the government of Bangladesh to expand the program to other parts of the country.
PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR VICTIMS
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the NGO Vasa Prava provides free legal assistance to victims of human trafficking. Founded in 1996, the organization runs 16 permanent offices and 50 mobile units, staffed by 80 employees. It has assisted more than 400,000 Bosnians. Attorneys from Vasa Prava are available to domestic victims from the time they arrive at a shelter, and they arrange residency permits and asylum applications for foreign victims.
Victims assisted by Vasa Prava are more likely to testify against their traffickers in criminal proceedings, and their testimony has led to the conviction of several notorious traffickers and organized crime rings.
In Malawi, police officers specially trained to recognize child victims of exploitation, including trafficking, are raising community awareness and helping grassroots organizations provide reintegration assistance for victims. Nearly 400 child protection officers in the country’s 27 local government districts are serving a critical role by monitoring communities for signs of trafficking, and they identify about half of the reported trafficking cases in Malawi.
RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS
Soccer stars in Germany and South Africa are calling attention to the issue of human trafficking by kicking off public awareness campaigns.
The government of Germany, international organizations and NGOs initiated prevention and protection measures for the 2006 World Cup in mid-2005 that serve as an effective model for future large-scale international sporting events.
More than a year before the World Cup began, German law enforcement authorities developed specialized strategies to prevent and investigate sex trafficking during the games, including an overall World Cup National Security concept, a state-federal law enforcement information-sharing network and greater police presence in prostitution districts.
Politicians and public figures at all levels promoted anti-trafficking efforts during the World Cup, and government-funded public campaigns conducted by NGOs supported 24-hour telephone hotlines for trafficking victims and World Cup attendees. Posters and flyers were displayed in key areas where fans gathered to watch games on large outdoor screens, reaching a much larger audience than previous anti-trafficking campaigns.
South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs wore T-shirts with a countertrafficking message and the toll-free telephone number of the NGO International Organization for Migration during the pre-game warm-up of a Premier Soccer League match in 2006. The game, which was nationally televised, officially inaugurated the country’s National Human Trafficking Awareness campaign, aimed at reducing the crime before the 2010 World Cup, which South Africa will host.
ARRESTING AND PROSECUTING CRIMINALS
An elite police unit in the Czech Republic is tasked with combating labor trafficking. The unit coordinates with labor inspectors who enforce laws on working conditions and strengthens intragovernmental cooperation in forced labor investigations and prosecutions.
In Cambodia, the NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) helps police arrest traveling child-sex offenders. As a result of APLE’s work in 2006, Cambodian authorities arrested 21 pedophiles and child-sex offenders. APLE works with local police and judicial officials to facilitate greater coordination with foreign police officials and provide legal counsel to victims.
The 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report was released on June 12.
For additional information, see 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report.