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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

Slavery In The 21st Century

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteYou learned in school about the four million slaves that existed in the United States until the abolishment of slavery in 1860 in a way that made the practice seem extinct. In reality, today there are more slaves in the world than ever before as the modern slave trade is even more prominent and hellish as it was in the 19th century. It is estimated that there are 45.8 million enslaved people throughout the according to the Walk Free Foundation, which publishes an annual Global Slavery Index to measure the prevalence of modern slavery.

For the 2016 index, Walk Free used a detailed and tedious methodology that included interviews with 42,000 people across 25 countries and 53 languages. Walk Free defined a slave as “someone who is held against his or her will or otherwise forced to work through violence or threats of violence or abuse of authority.” Their research proved there is no specific profile of a modern day slave, as they range from Yazidi girls kidnapped to be sex slaves in the Islamic state of Iraq to Uzbek citizens picking cotton for their government for no pay.

Additionally, results showed there is no formulated way a person ends up enslaved, as it varies from country and region, but countries with dictator type governments do tend to have more enslaved people. Some countries, typically across Asia, practice ancient institutions of bondage such as debt-slavery, while civil wars and jihadist violence in Africa and the Middle East put millions of people in the way of human traffickers because of their displaced statuses. That being said, even the freest countries in the world, including the United States, have thousands of modern day slaves within them. The modern day slavery trade is worldwide.

Overall, Walk Free concluded that there are 10 million more enslaved people world-wide than previously thought. India had the highest number (18.4M), followed by China (3.4M) and Pakistan (2.1M). Although the highest numbers of slaves are found in less developed countries, the developed world is not unaffected by this problem, the nature of their human trafficking trade is just better hidden. An estimated 58,000 slaves are in the U.S. alone.

Governments, businesses and religious leaders are progressively trying to combat modern slavery especially in the United States and United Kingdom. The American government, along with many other countries, has illegalized the import of slave-made products. Additionally, the U.K. enacted a Modern Slavery Act that made all large companies thoroughly check their supply chains for use of forced labor. These efforts and more are applauded by the foundation, but they are just battles in the war to abolish modern day slavery for good.

Source: Wall Street Journal

CHTCS Community Outreach and Raising Human Trafficking Awareness in New Mexico

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteCounter Human Trafficking Compliance Solutions’ COO, James D. Wiley, recently traveled to New Mexico to help at a community outreach project and to help raise local human trafficking awareness at community centers and public schools.

He went to The Dream Center in Las Cruces, NM, a community center run by Mike Tellas who started the center to help kids and teenagers avoid the dangers of the streets. In addition, The Dream Center consistently runs food drives, church services, and other community programs combatting local issues such as homelessness and domestic violence.James Wiley joined teenagers from a Christian school and adult volunteers to help with construction and beautification.

While at The Dream Center, James Wiley had the opportunity to speak directly to the adult volunteers and school officials about human trafficking recognition and identification as well as set up a time to give them a brief traveler’s safety course to help protect the volunteers.

One of the most crucial aspects of counter-human trafficking is raising awareness, and many people are in positions to identify victims of human trafficking, they just don’t know what to look for. We like to make sure that wherever we go, we share vital information that could help everyday citizens recognize and report human trafficking and modern slavery.

In addition to the volunteer and outreach efforts at The Dream Center, James Wiley also visited the McArthur Elementary School, where he got to spend time and work with a 1st grade class. Speaking with some of the teachers of McArthur Elementary, it only became clearer that the Las Cruces community felt that a human trafficking recognition course would be greatly beneficial for the community’s recognition and awareness of the crime.

CHTCS wants to thank The Dream Center, McArthur Elementary School, and all the great men and women who joined us to volunteer during our trip in New Mexico.

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OPERATIONAL CONTRACT SUPPORT JOINT EXERCISE COMBATS HUMAN TRAFFICKING

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteYou might not think it, but the United States’ military has taken up a significant task and role in fighting human trafficking overseas. With the 2016 Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise,Operational Contract Support (OCS) professionals received invaluable training on combatting trafficking tied to overseas contracts. Leaders in the U.S. Department of Defense have expressed their focus on fighting human trafficking which is typically found in instances of overseas contracting, as Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, said “It’s often labor-related contracting, but many cases involved prostitution as well.”

Referred to as OCSJX-16, this training exercise is seen as an extremely vital one, and Col. Joshua Burris, the Executive Director for OCSJX-16, sees great importance in combatting trafficking in persons, better known as CTIP. “OCSJX and the DOD’s efforts to combat trafficking are very important. We understand this tarnishes the image of America and it affects our relationships with other countries,” Burris said.

OCSJX-16, a three-week long exercise, employed a scenario in which 500 service members and civilians involved in the OCS process had to defend the Panama Canal and provide humanitarian assistance. In addition, OCSJX-16 participants were given simulated CTIP violations and had to properly respond to the situation in order to prevent the mock human rights violations. Linda Dixon, the Defense Human Resource Activity CTIP Program Manager, says combatting trafficking in persons in OCS is all about knowing who you’re working with. “The main thing is you need to know who you’re doing business with,’ Dixon said. ‘Do they understand the labor laws in the area where you’re going to be performing? Do they understand what the policies are for the U.S. government? As far as our CTIP zero tolerance policy?”

Linda Dixon was directly involved with OCSJX-16, educating exercise participants on the common types of CTIP violations commonly seen in the area of operations. These type of violations include poor living conditions for workers, violence or abuse, and recruiters who charge exorbitant fees to place workers in jobs. It’s great that the U.S. military is placing such emphasis on CTIP in OCS situations, as U.S. contracted work overseas is one of the more common places to find human trafficking and modern slavery tied directly to the United States.

Source: The United States Army

HUMAN TRAFFICKING A CONCERN AS TRUCKERS GET TRAINED TO HELP STOP GROWING CRISIS IN AMERICA

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteOver the span of the past few years, countries around the world have come under fire for not addressing rampant human trafficking issues including modern slavery, forced labor, and sex slavery that affect their citizens. “Each year it generates over $32 billion for those who are involved in enslaving others. The toll is actually much higher though, as 99 percent of those who are sold into the modern day slavery will never escape.” As general awareness of the scale of these issues has risen, so has the response, and now even states in the United States where some may not think these issues exist are following suit. Why? Because these problems do exist in the United States.

One common point of emphasis found in human trafficking awareness initiatives across the country is empowering those best positioned to make a difference. A great example of this strategy is the organization Truckers Against Trafficking. Human traffickers in the United States often use large highways and interstates to move from place to place. Truckers Against Trafficking aims to educate truckers who travel the same roads and stop at the same rest stops as traffickers on the signals and red flags commonly found with human trafficking victims. This organization and its education programs across the country teach truckers to recognize victims and gives them the resources to contact law enforcement when they suspect human and sex trafficking. The state of Ohio recently passed a law that requires everyone applying for a commercial trucking license to receive human trafficking awareness training.

This same principle has also been applied to the air travel industry and in fact, CHTCS hasprovided human trafficking awareness to flight attendants and airline staff through our partnership with Airline Ambassadors International and Classroom24-7.

Overall awareness of human trafficking and sex slavery in the United States has been growing, as high profile cases have recently popped up during events such as the super bowl. Federal and state governments are also doing their job, coming up with new legislation aimed at not only preventing and arresting traffickers, but also supporting the many victims of trafficking who have suffered.

“For a victim of assault, the assault can be a life changing event. For a victim of human trafficking, the victim is often assaulted 15 – 20 times per day.”

Source: Inquisitr

NESTLE ADMITS SLAVERY IN THAILAND WHILE FIGHTING CHILD LABOR LAWSUIT IN IVORY COAST

CHTCS-Logo-For-SiteIn case you missed it, this past November Nestlé and various other corporations were found to have supply chain operations in Thailand tied to illegal fishing vessels that used slave labor to supply some the processing plants used by Nestlé. Dissimilar to most corporations who have found slavery in their supply chains in the past, Nestlé openly admitted to the public that internal audits confirmed the fact that their supply chain was tainted by modern slavery.

Emphasizing that “no other company sourcing seafood from Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, could have avoided being exposed to the same risks”, Nestlé has since committed to a “new era of self-policing of its own supply chains.” Many have applauded the move towards full transparency, including Freedom Fund CEO, Nick Grono, who said “if you’ve got one of the biggest brands in the world proactively coming out and admitting that they have found slavery in their business operations, then it’s potentially a huge game-changer and could lead to real and sustained change in how supply chains are managed.”

While most have applauded Nestlé for its move towards transparency, others see its actions as a public relations stunt to alleviate criticism Nestlé has received for a completely unrelated slave labor lawsuit in the Ivory Coast. “For me there is a big issue with one part of Nestlé saying, ‘OK we have been dragged along with everyone else to face the issue of slavery in Thailand and so let’s take the initiative and do something about it’, and at the same time fighting tooth and nail through the courts to avoid charges of child slavery in its core operations in the Ivory Coast.” said Unseen UK’s Andrew Wallis.

This seemingly double standard has created plenty of questions regarding Nestlé’s true motives, but regardless we believe any step towards increased transparency is a step in the right direction. Nestlé is a perfect example that companies tied to human rights violations are often praised when they come clean and make a concerted effort to change.

Source: The Guardian