Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fighting Human Trafficking Requires A Coordinated Effort:



Fighting Human Trafficking Requires A Coordinated Effort
September 21st, 2011 Posted by Tracy Russo

This post is based on the written testimony of Mary Lou Leary, Prinicipal Deputy Assistant Attorney, in DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, about the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act passed in 2000. Ms. Leary appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on September 14, 2011.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Trafficking victims are viewed as property. They exist in every corner of our society, working long hours for little or no pay. We may see them every day, but never know what’s truly going on beneath the surface. Some work in elegant restaurants and high-end hotels. Others live in the murky shadows of nondescript neighborhoods and the gloomy light of urban nightclubs.

Fighting human trafficking and serving trafficking victims are among the most difficult challenges facing law enforcement and victim services today. One element of this crime that makes it so challenging to address is that trafficking victims are often hidden from society and prevented from contacting people who might help them. Traffickers control victims through physical, psychological, emotional, familial and economic forms of coercion. They also exploit a trafficking victim’s fear of deportation and use threats of reprisals against loved ones in the home country to further coerce and control a victim. Because of the secrecy surrounding this crime, it’s very difficult to determine the number of victims or the number of perpetrators.

The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), through its Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), supports 42 human trafficking task forces operating across the country. These task forces proactively investigate cases of minor and adult trafficking and support successful prosecutions of traffickers. They raise community awareness of the dangers of trafficking and the plights of its victims. And they provide critical services to these victims, including case management, food, shelter, transportation, counseling and medical care. (Read More.)

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