2015 TIP Report Heroes
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. For more information about current and past Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes, including how to connect with them, please visit the Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes Global Network at www.tipheroes.org.
Betty Pedraza Lozano
Since July 2003, Betty Pedraza Lozano has served as the founder and director of Corporación Espacios de Mujer, a Colombian NGO that provides victim services to adults, especially women, and children who suffer violence and abuse within the context of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. As director, she promotes and advocates for women’s empowerment and victims’ rights, as well as gender and human rights. She has worked with the Colombian government and international organizations to implement protocols for victim care.
A native of Medellín, Ms. Pedraza focuses much of her attention in the Antioquia department, where virginity auctions, sex tourism, and child pornography are rampant, and women and children are often exploited in prostitution in the mining and tourism sectors. She coordinated an anti-trafficking awareness campaign called “Porque se Trata de Ti,” or “Because it’s all about you,” which provides educational information on prevention efforts, victim identification, and victim services.
Ms. Pedraza is the co-founder of the Colombian Alliance of Civil Society Organizations against Human Trafficking, the first NGO network on trafficking in the country, and represents Colombia in the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women.
Ameena Saeed Hasan
Ameena Saeed Hasan is a Yezidi Kurd, a former member of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, and a fearless voice for the Yezidi religious minority in northern Iraq. This community has been the target of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since the summer of 2014 when they began kidnapping thousands of members of the Yezidi community, including women and girls who are subjected to forced marriages, sexual slavery, systematic rape, and domestic servitude.
Resolved to assist victims of some of the worst forms of human rights abuses and human trafficking, Ms. Hasan participated in an effort to create a registry of ISIL captives and the locations where they were being held. She also joined a team of activists sponsored by the Kurdistan Regional Government that has helped secure the release of approximately 100 former captives.
Ms. Hasan’s courageous leadership has been vital to support fellow members of the Yezidi community who have sought assistance from the U.S. government in the face of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq. She participated as a civil society representative in the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism in February 2015, where she delivered remarks on captive Yezidi women.
Gita Miruškina, an innovative lawyer for the Latvian NGO Safe House, has dedicated her life to assisting victims of human trafficking and enhancing the legal understanding of trafficking in persons in Latvia and the European Union. As one of the principal NGOs working on trafficking in Latvia, Safe House works directly with sex and labor trafficking victims, assisting them in their recovery and providing vital legal aid.
Ms. Miruškina also has been instrumental in alerting the European Union to the issue of “sham marriages”—brokered marriages between European Union passport-holders and third-country nationals, arranged so the latter can become eligible for immigration benefits—a practice that often leads to sex and labor trafficking, especially of women from Eastern Europe.
In the past six years, Ms. Miruškina has assisted more than 150 trafficking victims and acted as their legal representative in nearly 30 trials, including Latvia’s first labor trafficking trial, a landmark case that is still ongoing. Ms. Miruškina’s professionalism and dedication to a victim-centered approach has been lauded by victims and their families, as well as by judges and prosecutors who frequently consult her for professional advice.
Norotiana RamboarivelO Jeannoda
Norotiana Ramboarivelo Jeannoda launched the National Union of Social Workers in Madagascar in 2005, which quickly became a leading civil society organization promoting human rights and combating child sex tourism and human trafficking. She is among the most persistent and outspoken members of civil society advocating in Madagascar on behalf of victims of human trafficking. Ms. Ramboarivelo Jeannoda counsels victims trapped in abusive situations abroad, meets victims at the airport who return destitute and in need of care, and coordinates with border police to institute protective measures.
Ms. Ramboarivelo Jeannoda has prodded the government to do more by documenting the numbers of Malagasy victims exploited in the Middle East and of those who have committed suicide as a result of their desperation. She has led civil society groups to plead publicly for the case of transnational trafficking victims. In addition, Ms. Ramboarivelo Jeannoda was instrumental in ensuring that new draft anti-trafficking legislation addressed the needs of victims, and her advocacy efforts led to the adoption of Madagascar’s new National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
As Founder of Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC), Catherine Groenendijk-Nabukwasi is a pioneer in the fight against child trafficking in South Sudan. Ms. Groenendijk-Nabukwasi established CCC in 2007 as a drop-in center for girls vulnerable to sex trafficking, at a time when no other organizations were serving that population. Between 2010 and 2013, Ms. Groenendijk-Nabukwasi raised funds to build a shelter, which provides full-time residential care for 40 girls, ages 3 to 18, as well as food, health care, scholarships, educational support and mentoring, recreational activities, and counseling. The children learn trades, such as making handicrafts, cooking and farming as a means for income generation, and develop skills in conflict mitigation, stress and anger management, and cultivating self-confidence.
CCC also ensures 600 vulnerable boys and girls in the impoverished communities of Juba attend school by paying tuition and providing basic necessities, including books, uniforms, and shoes. CCC provides outreach services to 10 schools and raises community awareness about child protection and gender-based violence. CCC also supports survivors of trafficking and sexual and gender-based violence displaced by the current civil conflict. In addition, Ms. Groenendijk-Nabukwasi has consistently engaged the Government of the Republic of South Sudan on justice for children, specifically on the issue of human trafficking.
Moses Binoga, Coordinator of the Ugandan National Counter Human Trafficking Taskforce, has worked tirelessly to bring together the government-led taskforce and the civil society coalition against human trafficking into one coordinated effort to better identify and assist trafficking victims at home and abroad. With Mr. Binoga at the helm, the national taskforce has conducted training programs, created public awareness materials, held pre-departure information briefings for intending migrants, drafted guidelines on victim care for investigators, and is designing a national database in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration for sex and labor trafficking statistics. Due to his urging, the government has substantially increased its emphasis on prosecuting trafficking offenses.
Mr. Binoga is a strong voice on behalf of victims and has brought attention to their stories, often featured in Uganda’s leading national papers. He regularly deals directly with victims and answers their calls for assistance while also effectively coordinating assistance between officials and NGOs. Additionally, he proactively engages diplomatic missions in Uganda to establish agreements to prevent Ugandans from being subjected to human trafficking abroad.
Parosha Chandran, an extraordinarily dedicated human rights barrister, has spent the last 18 years shaping the development of national and international law and policy on human trafficking in the United Kingdom and globally. With a rare multidisciplinary perspective, she has set critical legal precedents to protect the rights of trafficking victims.
Ms. Chandran has appealed cases in which victims were punished as criminals for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; enabled trafficking victims to seek redress by taking civil action against the police for having failed to investigate the alleged crimes; and brought forward a case where the court established the right to refugee status for victims of human trafficking. Ms. Chandran’s cases often have exposed legal protection gaps, which have led to legislative or policy reforms.
As one of the world’s leading practitioners in the field, Ms. Chandran is recognized as a global expert on human trafficking by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Council of Europe. She works closely with NGOs and has a strong commitment to pro bono work. Ms. Chandran is the co-founder of the Trafficking Law and Policy Forum, an educational think tank based in London with a diverse membership.
Tony Maddox is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of CNN International (CNNi) and creator of the CNN Freedom Project, the longest-running awareness and investigative campaign on modern slavery on a global news channel. CNNi launched the CNN Freedom Project in 2011 to shine a spotlight on modern slavery, amplify the voices of survivors, highlight effective prevention and victim assistance efforts, and investigate the criminal enterprises involved. Mr. Maddox’s personal conviction that combating trafficking is a shared responsibility was the catalyst for the concept behind the Freedom Project. Due to his dedication and relentless advocacy, what began as a yearlong project became a much longer commitment. The Freedom Project is celebrating its fifth year of production, and is one of the most successful and highly visible programming initiatives on CNNi.
Under Mr. Maddox’s leadership, CNNi has enlisted dozens of correspondents and crews around the world, and has published more than 400 investigative stories on modern slavery. Various NGOs report that Freedom Project stories have led to more than 1,000 survivors receiving assistance, sparked more than $24 million in donations to anti-trafficking organizations globally, contributed to changing laws and corporate policies, and inspired new NGOs and grassroots campaigns around the world. CNNi currently reaches more than 291 million households and hotel rooms worldwide.