Prostitution and Sex Trafficking.

Most acts of prostitution amount to sex trafficking!

That is because the inherent vulnerability of most persons who sell sexual services make them easy targets for recruitment and exploitation.

Abuse of their vulnerability places this within the ambit of the definition of trafficking in persons under the Palermo Protocol.

Please read and consider the following statement:-

“It is rare that one finds a case in which the path to prostitution and/or a person’s experiences within prostitution do not involve, at the very least, an abuse of power and/or abuse of vulnerability.”
(Sigma Huda, former UN Rapporteur on Human Trafficking)

Deadly Labour Incident’s Seven Year Anniversary Passes Quietly Amid Covid-19.

Rana-Plaza

In these times of Covid-19, international news outlets are so consumed by the rapidly changing infection and mortality numbers that many milestones and news items go unnoticed. Such is the case with the 7 year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, killed at least 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500.

So what happened? On 24th April 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building was the worst ever industrial incident to hit the garment industry. There were harrowing stories of survival, of people who had no choice but to amputate their own limbs in order to be freed from the rubble and survive.

This horrific scene did not need to occur because, on 23rd April, 2013, large structural cracks were discovered in the Rana Plaza building. While the discovery led to the immediate closure of the shops and the bank on the lower floors, due to management pressure, on Wednesday 24 April thousands of workers went to work again at their garment factories located in the cracked and compromised Rana Plaza building. Mere hours later, the collapse occurred.

Many need to be held accountable. You see, Rana Plaza was built originally to house shops and offices. However, bowing to the garment industry’s increasing demand, 3 additional storeys, accommodating heavy machinery and hundreds of workers, were illegally added to the structure. Inquiries revealed that no fewer than 25 global clothing brands conducted business with at least one of the five garment factories in the Rana Plaza building, capitalising on the cheap labour rates paid in the poor third world country.

Seven years (and more than 100 global garment industry “accidents”) later, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, established in direct response to the Rana Plaza disaster, has done a tremendous job in making factories safer for over 2 million workers. However, the absence of robust social security systems and the power imbalance in today’s supply chains have been painfully exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After an initial slowing down of production because of lack of raw materials from China, the garment industry further suffered from Western buyers cancelling their orders and refusing to place new ones. As a consequence, nearly 2 million garment workers (mostly females) have lost their jobs or been furloughed, many without pay or severance. Thousands of workers have staged protests over unpaid wages, risking infection due to the fear of starvation. Where factories remain in operation, workers are reporting being forced to work without adequate precautions, leaving them, their families and communities at risk of infection.

Whereas the whole world is undergoing challenges due to Covid-19 and private companies are dealing with financial uncertainty for the future, we agree with the Clean Clothes campaign that it is “vital that factory owners start taking full responsibility for their workers’ health and well-being by ensuring workers receive their full wages during the crisis, through the digital systems provided by government, ending the retrenchment of workers and reinstating workers dismissed at the onset of the crisis and, once safe return to work is enabled, providing sufficient protection and paid sick leave.”

Moreover, consumers in the West must mandate to the Western companies which retail clothing made by these vulnerable garment workers to act responsibly in the circumstances and to utilise some of their phenomenal profits made over the years to secure the workers’ rights and livelihoods.

All of us have important roles to play in this dark scenario. Let us not fail to act when it is in our power to do so!

For more on this story, please check – https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/bangladesh-seven-years-on-from-rana-plaza-factory-collapse-garment-workers-lives-at-risk-again-amid-covid-19

Spain provides Covid-19 lockdown support for Human Trafficking Survivors.

Spain

On Tuesday, in the midst of its fight against the spread of Covid-19, Spain extended its measures to protect victims of gender violence and women victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and prostitution in the face of the country’s coronavirus lockdown. This is after the western European nation has registered more than 204,000 Covid-19 infections and over 21,200 deaths.

Under the measures to be piloted by Spain’s Ministry of Equality, victims will be able to access improved support services, emergency accommodation and claim a new social benefit for those at risk of extreme poverty. The benefit, called the Minimum Vital Income, will be formally announced in the coming days and shall take effect from the beginning of May.

Due to the state imposed restrictions on movement, many victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation and prostituted persons have not had their rights protected since March 12. Normal support services were halted and some civil society organisations in Europe – as elsewhere around the world – have experienced a decline in income, shifted to online interventions and had to furlough staff.

It is hoped that as the Spanish army and police conduct inspections and close hostels, hotels and clubs, they will better coordinate with those civil society organisations that can still provide assistance and protection. In this way, the expertise to detect and identify victims of these hidden crimes will be available and the interventions will be more effective.

While we appreciate these efforts to ensure no one is left behind as Spain continues to fight against Covid-19, CURB is concerned about the sustainability of the measures. We trust medium and long term planning is being done in consultation with the survivors of exploitation and trafficking. It would be remarkable and appropriate if the steps forward to be taken by the State include strong legal and judicial action against sex traffickers, exploiters and buyers and holistic, sustainable services for their victims.

For more information, please visit https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-spain-trafficking/spain-provides-lockdown-support-for-trafficking-victims-prostitutes-idUSKCN22327G

Barbados Authorities Receive Anti-Human Trafficking Training.

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This week, Barbados border control and security personnel are engrossed in a week of training on human trafficking in a bid to improve the country’s Tier rating as published in the Trafficking in Persons Report – an annual report compiled by the United States Department of State.

Attending the 5-day workshop are members of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Coast Guard, the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), Her Majesty’s Prison at Dodds, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Attorney General offices, Immigration Department and Barbados Customs and Excise Department.

Barbados currently ranks as a Tier 2 nation in the Trafficking in Persons Report but desires to improve to a ranking of Tier 1. This coveted status is given to a Government which has not only recognised the problem of human trafficking but has made the efforts to address the issue, and meets the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.

This week’s training is being facilitated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and several regional organizations.

According to Barbados Today, some of the topics on the workshop agenda are the international legal framework and trafficking in persons, typology of trafficking in persons, impact of human trafficking and the need for specialized approaches, treatment of trafficking victims, investigation techniques, and operational collaboration in the Caribbean.

 

 

Child Begging Case Leads to US Father’s Conviction.

An American father convicted of trafficking his children has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

According to news reports, the father from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sentenced 3 months following his conviction. He allegedly forced his children to panhandle to get money to purchase narcotics for himself.

The sight of children begging in public places is not uncommon in the cities of both developed and developing countries. However, some of the cases reveal that the children may have been coerced into their situation through intimidation, threats, and punishments.

In fact, forced child begging is classified as one of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, and completely violates the basic human rights protection
framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information on the case in Albuquerque, please visit this link.

Were your products made by forced labour?

While much emphasis is placed on ending demand for sexual exploitation, some nations also deter demand from their nationals for goods produced with forced labour overseas. An effective process is to identify and detain at the border goods suspected to have been produced with forced labour. This occurred in the USA when it recently announced that it is holding imports of clothing, gold, diamonds and other items believed to have been produced with forced labour by companies based in Brazil, China and Malaysia as well as some gold mined in eastern Congo and diamonds from a region in Zimbabwe.

Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307) prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced or indentured child labour – including forced child labour. Such merchandise is subject to exclusion and/or seizure, and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer(s).

In 2016, a problematic “consumptive demand” clause was repealed from the law. The clause had allowed importation of certain forced labour-produced goods if the goods were not produced “in such quantities in the United States as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States.” In effect, it tacitly condoned the labour exploitation of foreigners to fulfil American demand for certain products.

At present, therefore, under U.S. law, it is illegal to import goods into the U.S that are made wholly or in part by forced labour, which includes convict labour, indentured labour, and forced or indentured child labour. When sufficient information is available, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may detain goods believed to have been produced with forced labour by issuing a Withhold Release Order (WRO).

Screenshot_2019-10-02 Forced Labor Process Map - Forced_Labor_Process_Map_PBRB pdf

The recent WROs by the US CBP are effective immediately and are in relation to the following:-

  • Garments produced by Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; produced with prison or forced labour.
  • Disposable rubber gloves produced in Malaysia by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.; produced with forced labour.
  • Gold mined in artisanal small mines (ASM) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); mined from forced labour.
  • Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labour.
  • Bone black manufactured in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda; produced with forced labour.

Other deterrents are applied to reduce consumption, including legislation and policies for specific sectors of the federal government, contractors and industries banning the conduct of business with certain embargoed countries, businesses or regions. Another strategy is to pass legislation or regulations which require retailers and importers to conduct due diligence into their supply chains, file forms to certify having done so and, in default, to levy heavy financial penalties upon them.

CURB appreciates the efforts governments are making to utilise multi-sectoral approaches to combat modern slavery, including human trafficking and forced labour. Taking a strong position to ensure one’s nationals do not constitute a demand for products and services provided by exploited persons abroad is as important as preventing the exploitation within one’s borders.

 

What is Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST)?

As we conclude our look at the Liechtenstein Initiative, we want to examine Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST).

Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) is the second phase of the work of the Liechtenstein Initiative, following the first phase’s Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking, a public-private partnership which convened across three countries from September 2018 to September 2019.

The Commission consisted of 25 Commissioners, representing a broad spectrum of the financial sector as well as survivors of human trafficking and child slavery. The Commission was able to produce the Financial Access Project and its final report, Unlocking Potential: A Blueprint for Mobilizing Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking.

Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) was launched in September 2019 during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, with a coalition of 12 leading banks and 6 survivor service organizations in North America and Europe joining a new initiative to support survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking in accessing financial services.

SDG Target_8.7

FAST aims to implement the Blueprint to help end modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour in accordance with Target 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As part of the Blueprint to mobilize the financial sector against modern slavery and human trafficking, FAST has identified five goals towards which financial sector actors can work through individual and collective action. The FAST Goals provide a framework for the whole financial sector and professional service providers to demonstrate their commitment to accelerating action to end modern slavery and human trafficking. These include:

  • Goal 1: Compliance with laws against modern slavery and human trafficking.
  • Goal 2: Knowing and showing modern slavery and human trafficking risks.
  • Goal 3: Using leverage creatively to mitigate and address modern slavery and human trafficking risks.
  • Goal 4: Providing and enabling effective remedy for modern slavery and human trafficking harms.
  • Goal 5: Investment in innovation for prevention.

CURB intends to keep informed of the work of FAST and hopes that similar initiatives will reach the Caribbean region so as to assist victims of trafficking here.

Jamaica Launches Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in Schools.

Jamaica’s National Security Minister, Horace Chang, officially launched the national Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in Schools initiative on Thursday October 3rd at the Dunoon Technical High School in Kingston. To date, 11 schools have signed on to the initiative. They include Port Antonio High, Portand; Garvey Maceo High, Clarendon; St Hilda’s High, St Ann; Christiana High, Manchester; Calabar High, St Andrew; and Dunoon Technical High.

Mr Chang linked the trend in increased trafficking in persons to the country’s success against criminals in the narcotic and firearms trade. “Trafficking of our young adults is a lucrative business. It is growing, and as we get on top of dealing with the drugs and firearms trades…. it means the criminal organisations [are] losing money and they will look to other areas, and clearly one of those areas is human trafficking,” he said.

human trafficking 2

The government hopes to use the initiative to sensitise young adults about human trafficking in order to prevent them from becoming victims. By providing information on the root causes of trafficking and how to reduce vulnerability, the effort could contribute to the national mandate to prevent the crime.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Carl Berry, Head of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Vice Squad, the initiative will provide law enforcement with direct links to guidance counsellors, deans of disciplines and principals via WhatsApp. The school staff would have primary responsibility to disseminate information to the students. However, staff could invite law enforcement to club meetings to address ore complex matters.

DSP Berry noted that one of the reasons for the initiative “is to ensure that people who are a part of the club can get superior information in order to fight and protect themselves against human trafficking”. It is intended to visit all the schools on the island and add more of them to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in Schools initiative.

CURB applauds the initiative and hopes that more schools will develop curricula to impart to children of all ages relevant information which could keep them safe from becoming involved in this heinous offence, whether as victims or perpetrators.