A number of innovative anti-trafficking efforts came to light during the preparation of the 2004 TIP Report and through the State Department's engagement with foreign governments and international and non-governmental organizations throughout the year. Many of these efforts are particularly notable in that they demonstrate sustainable low-cost anti-trafficking measures. These activities and programs are characterized here as best practices because they are innovative and creative; they make a positive and tangible difference; they are sustainable; and, they have the potential to be replicated elsewhere.
Discouraging Sex Tourism. The Government of Panama enacted a new anti-trafficking law that seeks to address trafficking in the context of child pornography, sex tourism, and the use of the Internet. Among other features, the law obligates airlines, tour agencies, and hotels to inform customers in writing about the prohibitions of the new law.
Intercepting Potential Victims. The Colombian Government has authorized its Department of Administrative Security (DAS) to identify and approach outbound travelers that appear to be potential trafficking victims at airports before they board international flights. The DAS officials attempt to inform potential victims of the risks of trafficking and of fraudulent job offers. In 2003, nine potential victims were persuaded that their employment offers were fraudulent and convinced not to board their international flights.
Cooperation Between Transit and Destination Countries. The Government of Italy has provided funding to the Government of Morocco's "Project Textilia 2000," which funds micro-projects in the region around Khourigba, known for its involvement in clandestine emigration to Italy. The project is intended to provide gainful employment in Morocco that will prevent victims from being trafficked. For victims already in Italy, the country's new anti-trafficking law created a separate budget category for victim assistance programs, and the central government provided 70% of the assistance funds, with regional and local governments providing the remaining 30%.
Targeting the Sex Trade. The City Council of Madrid in January 2004 announced a comprehensive effort to combat prostitution and trafficking. The plan includes prevention, training, victim assistance, and police action against customers. Based on the principle that the best way to combat trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is to focus on customers as well as the victims, the effort enlisted the support of the Government of Sweden in developing law enforcement tools.
Battling Traditional Practices. The customary African practice of "fostering" feeds directly into the trafficking in persons trade. Child trafficking begins with a private arrangement between a trafficker and a family member, driven by the family's dire economic circumstances and the trafficker's desire for profit and cheap labor. Families, typically engaged in subsistence agriculture, are told that their child will receive an education and learn a useful trade. In all too many cases the child is trafficked into a situation of forced domestic servitude, street vending, or sexual exploitation. In response, the Government of Ghana conducted "Operation Bring Your Children Home" to encourage parents who sold their children to traffickers to bring them home in exchange for business assistance, job training, micro-credit facilities, and assistance with school fees and uniforms. To raise public awareness of the program, the Ghana police conducted informational meetings at large truck stops in Accra to educate drivers and transport union representatives on the identification of trafficking victims.
Confiscating Funds to Support Anti-Trafficking Programs. Funding for anti-trafficking programs is a low priority in many countries, particularly following the recent shift in resources to anti-terrorism programs. In Germany, the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg uses funds confiscated from trafficking operations to finance future investigations.
Linking Diplomats, Sharing Intelligence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Dominican Republic has created four "anti-trafficking networks" among diplomats in its consulates and embassies in countries that are major destinations for Dominican women being trafficked. There is a network in Central America, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. The diplomats seek to be pro-active in addressing trafficking issues. They work with host governments to identify and assist Dominican victims (many of whom have escaped their traffickers and fled to their consulates for help), to collect information on trafficking patterns, and to identify traffickers. This information is reported back to the MFA's consular affairs office and is shared with the Dominican Republic's allies in the anti-trafficking fight.
Using the Tools of Regulation, Inspection, and Training. The Government of the Philippines regulates and performs surprise as well as routine inspections of the 1,317 licensed labor export agencies; it also provides training and skills tests for overseas foreign workers before they leave the country. Philippine Foreign Service officers are trained, and in some cases actively involved, in searching for housing, and repatriating Philippine trafficking victims. The Philippines has conducted training for other governments in the region, including Indonesia and Vietnam, on how to improve their labor export protections.
Victims Receive Diplomatic Protection. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry operates shelters at its embassies and consulates in a number of countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Over the past year, these diplomatic establishments sheltered thousands of Indonesian citizens, a number of whom were potential trafficking victims. Indonesian diplomatic missions, in coordination with other government agencies, also assisted with repatriations.
Battling the Trafficking of Child Camel Jockeys. The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) instituted an innovative practice to effectively identify and rescue the children trafficked from South Asia to serve as camel jockeys on UAE racetracks. Most of these children are trafficked through the use of false documents from their home countries attesting to higher ages, and false parents who accompany the children to the UAE. Using DNA testing beginning in January 2003, UAE authorities tested 446 children and exposed 65 false claims of parenthood by traffickers who brought these children to the UAE. In 2003, over 250 children from Bangladesh and Pakistan were identified and returned to their countries; many of their traffickers were arrested and are being prosecuted. Other countries in the Gulf are adopting the DNA testing of child camel jockeys and their purported parents.
Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery
Government action, as mandated by law, is the focus of the Trafficking in Persons Report. However, many people and organizations from all walks of life, in addition to governments, are taking strong and effective actions to end human trafficking.
Having a broad-based and diverse array of players involved in this fight is crucial to its success. That's why this year's report includes the following stories of heroes in the effort to combat trafficking in persons. The individuals here are only representative of the many efforts undertaken by ordinary citizens around the world. They set an example for all of us and show that the efforts of a single person can often make a difference. There are many others who continue to fight trafficking everyday in their own way.
Director of Hagar in Cambodia
Pierre Tami delivered a Swiss businessman's approach to helping victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. In his view, assistance programs must be innovative and financially sustainable so former victims have opportunities to change their lives for good rather than remaining permanently vulnerable to exploitation. Mr. Tami has helped create three viable victim-assistance enterprises in Phnom Penh: a soy milk factory which delivers much-needed food to a malnourished country, a high-end silk design and manufacturing company, and a catering business which serves meals to garment factory workers. These enterprises are providing new hope to the people of Cambodia who have been traumatized by modern-day slavery, allowing some of them to receive paychecks for their work for the first time in their lives.
Read more about Pierre Tami.
The Honorable Francisco Sierra
Colombian Ambassador to Japan
Francisco Sierra has dedicated his attention and the attention of his embassy staff to assisting victims of human trafficking who have been brought from Colombia to Japan. The Ambassador has engaged the local Police authorities and the Japanese Government on the issue and has encouraged Colombian officials to make it a greater priority at home. He has fostered cooperation in Japan with the embassies of some Southeast Asian and Latin American countries. Ambassador Sierra sees the macro- and micro-perspective of the human trafficking problem -- he has seen the damage done to individuals, but he also has seen the link to organized crime and the sophistication of changing trafficking patterns.
Read more about the Honorable Francisco Sierra.
Sister Eugenia Bonetti
Italian Union of Major Superiors
Eugenia Bonetti is responsible for the anti-trafficking in persons actions of the Italian Union of Major Superiors. She is committed to fighting the injustice suffered by trafficked women because of what she has seen firsthand over her 24-year career as a missionary in Kenya, then as coordinator of anti-trafficking strategies in Turin and Rome. Sr. Eugenia and her team of some 200 sisters throughout Italy working full-time in anti-trafficking in persons initiatives have opened their homes to provide shelter, security and care to hundreds of victims of human trafficking. Sr. Eugenia has also worked with nuns in Nigeria, encouraging local efforts in the remotest and poorest communities to prevent trafficking and to assist in the rehabilitation of repatriated victims. Sr. Eugenia is spreading the anti-trafficking in persons message at home and abroad, in word and in action.
Read more about Sister Eugenia Bonetti.
Bonnie Miller has acted in many ways to fight trafficking in persons in Greece effectively, giving countless hours of her time to draw attention and resources to the issue. She helped Greek NGOs establish services for victims, lobbied the government to take strong anti-trafficking in persons actions, and worked to establish the first trafficking hotline in Greece. Mrs. Miller has been a champion of the anti-slavery cause through extensive media efforts and has brought diplomats from many countries together to discuss ways to assist victims of human trafficking. She also played a key role in establishing the Doctors of the World shelter for victims. As the wife of Thomas Miller, U.S. ambassador to Greece, she also has demonstrated how diplomatic families can help change the communities in which they live.
Read more about Bonnie Miller.
Paramount Chief Togbega Hadjor
New Bakpa, Ghana
Chief Togbega Hadjor has worked extensively to stop trafficking in children for labor in Ghana's Lake Volta region. Over the past year, 228 children have been rescued from forced labor in the fishing industry, with Chief Hadjor's personal assistance in locating areas known for child trafficking. He has assisted in the reintegration of these child slaves, placing them in schools and reuniting them with their families. He has personally worked to secure micro-credit funds for parents to expand their business capacity so they can better provide for their families.
Read more about Paramount Chief Togbega Hadjor.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Chairman and CEO, Carlson Companies
Marilyn Carlson Nelson became an American trailblazer in the fight against human trafficking when she committed her travel companies to a global code of conduct that seeks to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. As part of the code of conduct Mrs. Nelson signed, she agreed to train employees to identify and report perpetrators of child sex tourism; inform travelers about the legal penalties associated with such transgressions; and develop an ethical corporate policy repudiating sexual exploitation in tourism. The multi-line Carlson Companies, which includes hotel chains, cruises, restaurants, and the world's second largest travel agency, generated more than $27 billion in sales last year and employs an estimated 198,000 persons in more than 140 nations. Carlson Companies is the first major North American travel company to adopt the code of conduct.
Read more about Marilyn Carlson Nelson.