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CHTCS in Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Feature Story of its December 2016 Issue

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteWe at Counter Human Trafficking Compliance Solutions (CHTCS) were happy to close out the year being highlighted in Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s feature story “VF Puts People First” about improving corporate social responsibility throughout apparel companies in its December 2016 issue.

The story focused on the VF Corporation, a company who despite having no business in Rana Plaza at the time of Rana Plaza factory fire, found the devastating accident so tragic that it took matters into its own hands, “addressing potential problems with factory conditions, worker safety and sustainability within its own supply chain”, far before legislation and regulations required them to do so.

Our COO and CSO James Wiley was quoted in the article, saying “Companies might say [corporate social responsibility] costs too much money, but it will save a company money in the long run.” If you’d like to read the entire article, please click the button below.

View Full Article, Pgs. 16-18

Source: Supply & Demand Chain Executive

The Accidental Slave Owner: Compliance Week Interviews Rizk Compliance

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteI have 65 slaves working for me. I am not proud of this.

To be fair, I didn’t go out looking to gather more than five dozen slaves to support myself and my family, but living in the more affluent side of Western society, I got my slaves like most everybody else: without even trying.

I live in New Jersey, United States, with my wife and two children (my daughter is 16, and my son is 13). Most of the time, we are vegans, mainly for health reasons. (I know it is an annoying thing to just tell people how you eat, but when it comes to determining your slavery footprint, it matters, especially if you consume seafood.)

We don’t buy a lot of jewelry because my daughter has a nickel allergy, but also because we are aware of how environmentally harmful gold mining can be and how tainted the diamond industry is. What jewelry we do buy are either estate pieces (already manufactured) or pieces not typically associated with forced labor (like the ring my wife bought me that was carved from a single iron meteorite).

We own a fair bit of clothing, but we try to pay attention to where they are manufactured; we stay away from textiles manufactured in Bangladesh, as well as brands that are reported to source their products from areas with lots of forced labor. This is something we’ve tried to educate our daughter on, especially, because if that kid likes to do anything, it’s shop for clothes.

We own a lot of electronics, but most of them are from Apple or Samsung, companies that receive top marks for sustainability and ethical practices. Still, stories of suicides at an Apple factory in China are hard to shake off. We don’t own a lot of athletic gear, mainly because our activities of choice are running and martial arts, which don’t require a lot of stuff.

I mention all of this because as far as Western consumers go, I’d like to think we aren’t too lavish, and don’t buy things without considering what it took to make them. And yet, when I entered all of this information into a web survey from www.slaveryfootprint.org, there was my estimated employment of slave labor: 65 people. Somehow, there were 65 people in either forced or bonded labor conditions making the things my family buys just to go about our daily lives. To say this causes a knot in my stomach is a bit of an understatement, so one can appreciate how much this weighs upon most compliance officers who strive to make sure their third-party partners and their supply chain is as free from forced labor as possible.

Modern slavery is a massive problem that exists around the world. According to the Global Slavery Index, there are currently some 45.8 million people enslaved across 167 countries. More than half of people living in slavery do so in just five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Most modern slaves are also the victims of human trafficking. Nearly one in three modern slaves is a child.  Over half are female. Slavery is illegal nearly everywhere, and yet, it persists, and is used to help produce nearly 200 different commercial goods worldwide. Some industries, such as shrimp fishing, are deeply involved with using forced labor. It is a problem that is everywhere.

Over the summer, I spoke with John Clark, James Wiley, and Jessica Vincent of Rizk Compliance, a consulting firm that advises companies on dealing with forced labor within supply chains. John, James, and Jessica have backgrounds in the military and law enforcement, with experience in special operations, intelligence, border security, and nation building. They are also deeply involved in anti-human trafficking and they bring a special kind of perspective to the matter of fighting forced labor. These people are true believers in what they are doing; their work will bring them neither great fame nor fortune, but they have seen things in their previous work that they cannot unsee and, with eyes wide open, have dedicated themselves to fighting human trafficking in a way that brings about meaningful, impactful change.

When I spoke with them, they noted how pernicious the problem of human trafficking and forced labor can be. It takes place, hidden in plain sight in the United States and the United Kingdom, especially in industries that require lots of low-paying labor. By way of example, they noted that more than 150 displaced civilians enter the U.K. labor market each day, mainly by way of Calais, and it’s a problem that simply has no easy solution. Part of it is simply better security, but perhaps the larger part of it is addressing the conditions that drive those people to seek work in the United Kingdom in the first place.

John, James, and Jessica have spent a lot of time in the developing world, helping manufacturers review the operations where they source inventory or initially fabricate goods. And that is where they do some of their most interesting work. It is one thing to point out bad conditions at a workplace and advise a client to take their business elsewhere, they note, but that can actually make the core problem worse. In some areas, for example, where a mine is employing forced labor, as bad as that mine may be, it might actually be the best option for its workers to escape even worse conditions in areas riven with civil warfare or extreme lawlessness. This does not excuse the forced labor, but it does provide the companies doing business with this hypothetical mine to help the mine address its bad behavior and address the issue at its root. This needs companies willing to put in some extra time and effort to actually fixing the problem of slavery and human trafficking, rather than moving to avoid it altogether. It is a more difficult, but more meaningful solution.

In the context of the U.K.’s Modern Slavery Act, approaches like this matter. As companies conduct deeper compliance efforts to identify places in their supply chain that might employ forced labor, what to do when that forced labor is detected is key. So far, the Modern Slavery Act doesn’t require companies to try to eradicate slavery; just to not benefit from it. And while that’s laudable … as long as companies can simply turn the other way, forced labor will still seep into supply chains, even of those companies that genuinely do not wish to make use of it. After all, a perfectly clean supply chain is easier said than done. Take it from the fellow with 65 slaves working for his family.

Source: Compliance Week

Survey Finds 70% Of Migrants Arriving In Europe By Boat Trafficked Or Exploited

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteA new survey conducted by the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revealed some disturbing figures related to the global refugee migrant crisis. Per the IOM survey, more than 70% of migrants travelling both overland through North Africa to Europe and to Europe via boat have faced some form of human trafficking or exploitation along the way. Most disturbingly is the fact that “nearly half of all those questioned (49%) reported being held in a location against their will, often for ransom.”

As the refugee crisis worsens in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, criminal networks and gangs are seeing the massive number of moving people as an opportunity to capitalize on the innocent families hoping to escape war, poverty, and hunger. Since many of the refugees traveling have never left their home countries, many of them are unaware of the risk of falling victim to human traffickers posing as legitimate services and employers. Many of these refugees are willing to do anything to escape their current situation, but don’t consider the fact that they may be deceived or coerced into even worse situations.

Although this survey only gathered data from 9,000 migrants over a period of 10 months, the high frequency of similar responses from migrants questioned indicate the problem is as widespread as the results of the survey indicate. “What these surveys show is that human trafficking networks are becoming brutal and efficient at exploiting and making profit from the vulnerability of migrants,” says Simona Moscarelli of the IOM. The United Kingdom’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, said the survey shows “There is a need for urgent action to protect these people. I believe that a key focus for the UK and other governments must include collaborating with partners to priorities safeguarding against the risks of modern slavery as part of the response to the migration and refugee crisis.”

SOURCE: The Guardian

Could You Spot a Victim of Human Trafficking?

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteA person can identify possible victims of human trafficking if they are educated on and aware of the signs that are specific to victims. Whether it’s a victim of forced labor or sex slavery, the indicatorsof a human trafficking victim tend to be consistent. It is important for people to be aware of the signs of human trafficking because it is happening everywhere, including some of the wealthiest neighborhoods throughout the country. Traffickers look for potential victims in public places such as malls, food stores, school playgrounds and on the internet, yet most people are not even aware the crime exists.

There are specific things to look for to help you identify whether someone is a victim of human trafficking or not. A potential victim may always have someone with them who appears to be controlling, over protective and often speaks for them. Additionally, victims are often malnourished, show signs of physical abuse and sometimes have severe anxiety or depression. Another red flag is a possible brand or mark that many traffickers give their victims in the form of a tattoo. Often they are of their trafficker’s name, or some type of identification number. Victims also may not know where they are or where they’re from. When asked questions you may notice inconsistencies with their stories or they won’t tell you where they’re from or staying.

Members of the community can help prevent human trafficking by educating themselves on the signs and becoming more observant of their surroundings and the people they’re interacting with. Additionally, business owners are beginning to require their employees to receive human trafficking training, especially in establishments such as hotels and apartment complexes. Being aware of a person’s demeanor, clothing, location, license plate and other crucial details are all useful tools that law enforcement could potentially use to help save a victim of trafficking.

SOURCE: SunHerald

The Five Disguises Used by Human Trafficking

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteIn the U.S. there is a movement to prioritize human trafficking prevention. Our nation’s communities have begun to acknowledge their potential to empower youth to stay safe from exploitation by implementing programs in schools, juvenile correction centers, group homes, and other youth-orientated spaces. Many youths are experiencing exploitation right now, and it’s imperative that the U.S. prioritizes prevention.

Human trafficking exploitation needs to be prevented before it grows. These issues will only change when our communities step up to ensure potential victims are prevented. One way to prevent exploitation is by educating communities and training them to see through the disguises used by exploitative people, including traffickers. Traffickers use psychological manipulation as a means of control and come into the lives of vulnerable individualsthrough multiple outlets including social media, in-person at places like school or the mall, and through established relationships that people have in their families and communities.

iEmpathize, a non-profit that combats crimes against children, prepares both young people and adults to recognize issues of exploitation. Their prevention resource, The Empower Youth Program, identified five “disguises” that a person looking to exploit someone may take on to gain trust:

1. Pretender: Someone who pretends to be something s/he is not, such as a boyfriend, a big sister, a father, etc.
2. Provider: Someone who offers to take care of an individual’s needs, such as for clothes, food, a place to live, etc. or their wants, like cool cell phones, purses, parties, etc.
3. Promiser: Someone who promises access to great things, like an amazing job or glamorous lifestyle of travel.
4. Protector: Someone who uses physical power or intimidation to protect (but also control) an individual.
5. Punisher: Someone who uses violence and threats to control an individual. When previous disguises have been exhausted, an exploitative person often becomes a Punish to maintain control.

The program helps both youths and adults recognize disguises and teaches youth how to cultivate authentic and safe relationships. In the future, when a trafficker meets a community aware of the horrors of trafficking, exploitation loses and justice will win.

SOURCE: CNN

The 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteThe United States’ 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report was released Thursday, June 30th with the latest rankings of governments’ efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.The report sorts countries into four tiers: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum U.S. standards; Tier 2 for those that are making significant efforts to do so; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to fully comply with the minimum U.S. standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Over two dozen countries were demoted to the lowest ranking of Tier 3 in the TIP report this year. Among those were Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Sudan and Haiti which sit at the very bottom as the world’s worst offenders of human trafficking. These results received praise from human rights groups following negative feedback claiming last year’s report was politicized. Additionally, Turkmenistan, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea and Suriname we’re downgraded to the lowest tier as well.

Thailand was surprisingly removed from the bottom tier of the TIP report despite the prevalent forced labor problem within the country’s seafood industry. The Philippines, however, was moved to the top tier, amongst countries like the United States, although they are known for their thriving sex industry. Many human rights groups disagree with this decision, but specifically supported the demotion of Myanmar and Uzbekistan. Both countries are important partners to the United States and many feel those decisions may restore credibility to the annual report.

Unlike last year, this year’s critics are far more supportive of the TIP report. “’On the whole, this year’s trafficking report accurately reflects and critiques the record of countries around the world in addressing human trafficking and forced labor, unlike the report issued last year, which was marred by strong indications of political interference,’ said Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.” Despite the improvement, Thailand’s upgrade is still troublesome even with the improvements to legal reforms and increased prosecutions surrounding human trafficking cases in the country.

The report also downgraded Hong Kong from “Tier 2” to “Tier 2 Watchlist.” The Chinese territory strongly refused the decision. “We cannot accept that Hong Kong is a destination, transit and source territory for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said in a statement. Regardless of their disapproval, their position still remains on the Tier 2 Watchlist.

Secretary of State John Kerry said ranking decisions were not influenced by politics or other factors. “There are some tough calls. In the end they come down to an element of discretion, but not much,” he said. The report also highlighted the Syrian refugee crisis and reiterated that almost all sides in the civil war there, including government forces, as well as U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters, were recruiting child soldiers. Ultimately, despite some inaccuracies, the annual TIP reports undeniably shows the widespread and serious problem of human trafficking around the world and the dire need to end it.

Source: The New York Times

U.S. Seafood Importers Accused of Human Trafficking in Recent Lawsuit

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteRural Cambodian villagers have filed a lawsuit against four U.S. and Thai companies in a California Federal Court. The civil complaint accuses the joint venture of violating terms of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, created to prevent human trafficking. The villagers have accused the companies of trafficking them and making them work in forced-labor conditions throughout the Thai seafood industry.

The five men and two women who filed the suit claim that after leaving Cambodia for Thailand, factory managers took their passports so they could not leave the country. They also worked six days a week for wages much less than what was promised. For food, many resorted to eating seafood they found washed up on the beach. Their lead attorney Agnieska Fryszman told Thomson Reuters Foundation, “These are lovely, hard-working and decent people who really deserve better.”

In recent time, Thailand’s reputation has been damaged after multiple investigations by news organizations and rights groups into slavery, human trafficking, and violence across the multibillion dollar seafood industry which distributes goods around the world. Following the investigations, Thailand vowed to crack down on human trafficking and introduced reforms to its fisheries law, however unfortunately they have found themselves in trouble once again.

Many companies including retail giant, Walmart, buy shrimp and other seafood from the companies accused. Two of the companies even have U.S. offices, Rubicon Resources being located in Delaware,and Wales & Co. Universe Ltd. Located in California. The two Thai companies are Phatthana Seafood and S.S. Frozen Food. Most of the companies could not be reached, and Walmart has not yet responded for comment.

The exploited workers are seeking money for their unpaid wages, mental anguish,and physical abuse in the suit. These seven workers are just a small percentage of the 21 million people globally who are victims of forced labor in the industry that generates $150 billion a year in illegal profits according to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO).

Source: The New York Times

Jessica Vincent, co-founder, 4P Project and Director of Intelligence, CHTCS

CHTCS-Logo-For-Site“How much does a human life in slavery cost? In the crudest terms, globally, the average cost of a slave is $90 (£57)”. A multi-billion dollar Human Trafficking industry runs in absolute darkness and denies hope and freedom to ~20.9 million people all around the world. According to NHTRC (National Human Trafficking Resource Center), it received a total of 24,757 trafficking signals in the United States and U.S. territories (alone) in 2015 and the surprising element is ~40% of the suspected traffickers are women.

To gain more understanding of this subject, I spoke to Jessica Vincent, a former Senior Intelligence Specialist to a Special Mission Unit in support of Tier Force Commanders, Chiefs of Stations, and senior U.S. State Department officials since 2001. She along with her mother Stephanie Ransom co-founded 4P project to counter Human Trafficking in Arizona, US.

Q1: What is the 4P Project?
The 4P stands for counter-human trafficking 4P paradigm: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership in everyday life. It covers breaking news on sex trafficking, forced labor, legislation, corporate social responsibility, and education. Based out of the southeast region in Arizona, 4P collaborates with law enforcement agencies, intertwining their efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking, domestic violence, drugs and sexual assaults.

Q2: As a founder of 4P project and Director of Intelligence at CHTCS, what is your role and contribution? Are there any risks involved in rescue operations?
My role with 4P Project has been in-transition as we are determining the best solution to help more victims of trauma through self-identification. Recently, I’ve been volunteering at our local victim advocacy center as a victim advocate. In this role, I assist the center with victims of any traumatic event, help them identify resources for help, obtain medical attention, if necessary, and build a road plan for a safer lifestyle. Collaboration is the key to our success.

As Director of Intelligence at CHTCS, I’m currently writing our Quarterly Journal which educates readers on domestic and international topics that may affect business operations from a social compliance point of view. I also assist clients with in-depth supply chain research. With an overlay of proprietary data points, I attempt to help clients make sound social decisions that are duo-fold, improving the integrity of their product by reducing potential human trafficking in their supply chain.

Q3: How difficult is it to deal with victims of Human Trafficking considering stigma and trauma?
Human trafficking victims often experience the same trauma as domestic violence victims. The sense of security, love, attention, legal status, even income, or means for survival inhibits a victim from escaping. Human trafficking victims must make the personal choice to recover on their own and commit to the long road to recovery. It can be very difficult without a safe environment, a questionable support network, little to no means for income, and possibly having dependent children. Blaming the victim is still commonplace and the stigma can hurt job placement or social status. A victim often experiences trigger scenarios that exacerbate traumas. Simply seeing a couple argue at the grocery store or watching a child holding hands with an adult may be a trigger that places the victim in a swell of emotions and without proper counseling or training, they may relapse and find themselves finding a way to escape the situation with drugs, alcohol, self-deprecating behavior or reckless behavior. Many victims blame themselves for their predicament and fail to see themselves as victims, making counseling and recovery difficult.

Q4: How difficult is it for survivors of Human Trafficking to have a normal life?
Considering normalcy is solely based on one’s own interpretation of their life experience and surroundings, victims of trauma find survival through degrees of difficulty. Victims of human trafficking must first make the choice to change their position and remove themselves from the abusive situation. This can be difficult and often out of their control, so this is why it’s so important to have more resources such as shelters and an educated community to assist the victim when they are mentally prepared to leave the situation. Once a victim has obtained safe harbor, they must face the arduous experience of healing not only from their victimization of human trafficking but possibly from precursory abuse. The healing process includes comprehensive counseling and essentially a strong support unit. At some point, human trafficking victims develop coping skills and evolve into survivors who can function better in society but some simply don’t. Victim shaming is still a serious problem for human trafficking survivors, and criminal records can persist for a lifetime effecting career choices and limiting income.

Q5: Any advice that you would like to give to people, that may help save more lives?
The best practice to save more lives is through prevention. The entry age of domestic minor sexual trafficking (DMST) in the United States is 14 years old. Empowering communities and children through education will help. Parents need to maintain involvement in their child’s lives, online, at school, after school, etc… Parents and adults are the first line of defense to protect children and it is our responsibility to speak honestly with them about the dangers of human trafficking and child abuse. Unfortunately, abuse can occur at home and it is a community responsibility to recognize that trafficking can occur in their small rural town and to report it to the authorities. Human trafficking awareness has just begun and is in a similar position of awareness as to the issue of domestic abuse 30 years ago. Collectively learning the signs, symptoms and causes of human trafficking will help save lives.

Source: Women To Watch