Each year, the Department of State honors individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. These individuals are NGO workers, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. They are recognized for their tireless efforts—despite resistance, opposition, and threats to their lives—to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.
Laura Anyola Tufon
In her 10 years as the Northwest Regional Coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission, Laura Anyola Tufon has been relentless in her commitment to fight child trafficking and forced labor in Cameroon. Despite a challenging environment where poverty, culture, and tradition converge to create vulnerabilities that facilitate trafficking in persons, Ms. Anyola is directly involved in the identification of, and delivery of assistance to, victims of human trafficking. In 2012, she identified 80 trafficking victims, and provided assistance to over 100 such individuals.
Ms. Anyola’s leadership has transformed her organization into a model for Central Africa. In 2009, the Justice and Peace Commission created the first community-based protection system in Cameroon to identify at-risk children and to protect victims from being re-trafficked. Additionally, Ms. Anyola has worked within the appropriate legal systems to compel traffickers to compensate survivors and their families, leading to nearly 300 victims and their families receiving reintegration assistance and education.
Ms. Anyola continues to call for the government to enforce its human trafficking legislation by regularly prosecuting traffickers and ensuring that victims receive the protection they need.
Read more about Laura Anyola Tufon.
Katrin Gluic has spearheaded Croatian Police efforts to combat human trafficking since January 2010. She is frequently identified as a driving force for creating necessary changes on anti-trafficking efforts, including those related to Croatia’s EU accession.
As a chief police inspector within the National Police Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (PNUSKOK), Ms. Gluic coordinates trafficking investigations in Croatia. She oversees initial assistance to victims as a leader of Croatia’s highly effective and innovative mobile teams, which she helped to create. These teams consist of specialized government, Red Cross, and NGO personnel, and rapidly deploy in order to handle initial care and placement of victims in suspected trafficking cases. She also designed and executed an extensive anti-trafficking training program involving several branches of the Ministry of Interior, including the border police, police academy, and virtually all police precincts.
Ms. Gluic has been pivotal in Croatia’s international cooperation in the fight against trafficking. In 2012, she coordinated efforts to shut down an international forced prostitution and narcotics ring, creating joint initiatives with counterparts in Spain, Serbia, Hungary, and Slovenia. She ensured that victims returning to Croatia received the assistance they needed in the difficult process of reintegration.
Read more about Katrin Gluic.
Simona Broomes is a courageous leader in assisting human trafficking victims and raising awareness about human trafficking in Guyana. After 25 years as a miner, in 2012 she established the Guyana Women Miners Organization (GWMO), a volunteer membership and advocacy organization, to empower women miners and address the economic discrimination and physical intimidation that women miners face. The GWMO is the first organization of its kind in Guyana comprising women miners advocating on a cross-section of social and economic issues. Ms. Broomes has worked relentlessly to engage the government, the international community, and the media to raise public awareness about human trafficking, identify traffickers, promote access to victim care in remote mining communities, improve the law enforcement response, and increase job training for women in mining.
In April, Ms. Broomes was physically assaulted by traffickers while rescuing victims. Despite the dangers of retaliation, however, she has assisted several victims, and GWMO members have temporarily housed survivors before transporting them from remote areas to government care and law enforcement officials in the capital. Under her dynamic leadership, the GWMO and its 440 members have become undeniably powerful anti-trafficking advocates and a recognized force in combating human trafficking while promoting equality and economic opportunities for women in Guyana.
Read more about Simona Broomes.
Mohammed Bassam Al-Nasseri
Mohammed Bassam Al-Nasseri has played a critical role in the development, passage, and implementation of Iraq’s comprehensive 2012 anti-trafficking legislation. As a capacity building officer at the International Organization for Migration, Mr. Al-Nasseri has provided superior leadership and unflagging support to the International Trafficking in Persons Working Group in Iraq, a forum for Iraq’s Central Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons, to coordinate with the international community to fight human trafficking.
Mr. Al-Nasseri also served as a tireless advocate for 35 stranded Ukrainian and Bulgarian construction workers in Iraq. During daily visits to the construction site where the workers were living in crowded, dark, dirty, and unventilated conditions without electricity, money, or water, Mr. Al-Nasseri delivered essential medical assistance, potable water, and hot food, and assisted the workers so they could call home. Mr. Al-Nasseri worked closely with various government ministries on the workers’ case. Through his advocacy efforts, the workers were spared from even more dire circumstances and were repatriated back to their home countries, where they continue to participate in legal proceedings against their former employer. Mr. Al-Nasseri’s heroic and continuing involvement in this case is just one example of his exceptional commitment to fighting human trafficking.
Read more about Mohammed Bassam Al-Nasseri.
Javier Antonio Morazán & Juan Victoriano RuÍz
The partnership that Javier Antonio Morazán and Juan Victoriano Ruíz have forged in their efforts to combat human trafficking has been one of the most important law enforcement advances in Nicaragua.
Mr. Morazán, the Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Anti-Corruption and Anti-Organized Crime Unit, is one of the Nicaraguan government’s most knowledgeable officials on human trafficking. Since 2009, he has been personally responsible for the vast majority of convictions against traffickers, and under his leadership, the number of human trafficking prosecutions went from zero to a record-high of 35 in 2012.
But Nicaragua’s progress in prosecutions is not due solely to Mr. Morazán’s work in the Public Prosecutor’s office. Without Lieutenant Ruíz and his team’s efforts to collect evidence against traffickers and shut down human trafficking rings, none of the success of Mr. Morazán’s unit would have been possible. As the head of the Nicaraguan National Police’s Anti-TIP Unit (NNP), Lieutenant Ruíz leads a small but dedicated group of officers responsible for investigating human trafficking cases throughout Nicaragua. Over the three years since Mr. Ruíz assumed leadership, the NNP has investigated an average of 24 cases a year, compared to an average of 11 cases a year over the two years before Mr. Ruíz’s unit was created.
Each of these officials is extraordinary in his own right; however, what is truly remarkable is the partnership they have formed. Their work together, and the level of coordination and trust they have developed, has been key to advancing Nicaragua’s success in the fight against human trafficking.
Read more about Javier Antonio Morazan & Juan Victoriano Ruiz.
Ippei Torii has been a forceful leader in anti-trafficking efforts as the secretary general for Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ), which has provided shelter and assistance to more than 4,000 foreign workers in Japan who have escaped from exploitative conditions or sought help recovering unpaid wages. SMJ has offered advice and assistance by telephone to more than 1,200 foreign workers in Japan’s Industrial Trainee and Technical Intern Program (TTIP), a government-run program that recruits unskilled labor to work at factories and farms in Japan. Awareness of Mr. Torii’s network has spread by word of mouth by foreign workers, who distribute mobile phone numbers of SMJ staff to those in need of assistance.
The organization has also engaged in public awareness and lobbying campaigns both domestically and abroad to raise concerns about how traffickers exploit the TTIP to coerce foreign workers into conditions of forced labor. Mr. Torii meets regularly with various ministries that are responsible for oversight of the program, and he has provided guidance to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. His persistence has kept this issue squarely before the press and on the political agenda in Japan.
Read more about Ippei Torii.
Susan “Toots” Ople is founder and president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a Philippine non-profit organization dedicated to helping distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with labor and migration issues. The Ople Center provides free legal assistance to survivors of human trafficking, as well as other free reintegration services. It represents the OFW sector on the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), a successful multi-agency government body that, with the help of the private sector, civil society, and international partners, combats all forms of human trafficking. With an estimated 10 million Filipinos working abroad, the Ople Center has been a leader in calling for an increased focus on combating labor trafficking.
Ms. Ople works tirelessly to reintegrate trafficking victims into Philippine society, believing that skills training combined with good job placement will empower these workers to secure safer employment. Through her leadership, the Ople Center has entered into partnerships with hotels, private sector companies, and legislative offices to secure jobs and training for trafficking survivors. One woman trained at the center, a former domestic worker in Libya, now heads the housekeeping unit of a major resort hotel in Cebu, while another trafficking survivor works as an employee of IACAT.
Read more about Susan “Toots” Ople.
Paul Holmes is an internationally-renowned expert in combating human trafficking. His expertise is founded upon a long and successful career as an operational officer and criminal investigator with New Scotland Yard. For the past 10 years he has provided anti-trafficking expertise across six continents, primarily in the design and delivery of specialized training for practitioners and performing technical capacity assessments for national governments.
With a focus on a victim-first, human rights-based approach to criminal justice responses to trafficking, his interactive training program encompasses the full range of reactive and pro-active investigative techniques. Within the training sphere, his uniquely practical and effective style has secured his reputation as one of the world’s foremost trainers on the subject. He has developed and published wide-ranging investigative “good practice” manuals for a number of national governments and international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Interpol. Additionally, he has held various advisory roles in the international arena and currently serves as a member of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Expert Group on the Palermo Protocol.
Read more about Paul Holmes.
2012 saw the tragic loss of Eunice Kisembo, the former Head of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Office of the Government of Uganda. Her trailblazing efforts were critical in addressing human trafficking in Uganda, assisting Ugandan victims of trafficking around the world by aggressively investigating potential trafficking crimes, and establishing Uganda’s National Task Force against Human Trafficking.