Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Iowa Man Convicted of Human Trafficking, Sold Teens In Prostitution

DES MOINES, Iowa — The first person to be convicted under Iowa's human trafficking law was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.

Leonard Russell was found guilty of two counts of human trafficking, two counts of pandering and a count of ongoing criminal conduct during a September trial in Crawford County.

The 37-year-old was sentenced Monday in Crawford County District Court to 25 years on the ongoing criminal conduct charge, and 10 years on each of the other four charges — with all the sentences to be served concurrently. He was also fined $5,000.

Prosecutors said Russell, who has used addresses in Sioux City and Omaha, Neb., recruited and harbored two Nebraska girls last year for commercial sexual activity, including prostitution and performing at strip clubs. They said the girls, ages 15 and 16, were runaways.

Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement that the case helped officials understand that human trafficking is a much bigger problem in Iowa than many realized.

"It can be especially perilous for young people and disadvantaged kids, and it can occur in small towns," he said. "The underground nature of human trafficking makes it hard to fight, but the trafficking law is a valuable new tool and we will use it."

Read more here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Congress OKs tough anti-trafficking bill

WASHINGTON (BP)--Congress has approved legislation that supporters believe will strengthen both the domestic and international efforts to combat human trafficking.

Passage by the House of Representatives and Senate on the same day brought an end to a lengthy, contentious debate over competing pieces of legislation. Activists in the anti-trafficking movement strongly favored a measure approved overwhelmingly by the House last December over one proposed in the Senate. In the end, a new bill more closely resembling the House version passed without objection in either chamber.

President Bush is expected to sign the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, H.R. 7311, into law.

To read more about what the bill will do, read the article here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First-Ever Rock Concert at Angkor Wat Temple Raises Awareness about Human Trafficking

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Dec 15, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- An international line-up of rock musicians took a stand against human trafficking at a recent concert at the Angkor Wat temple sponsored by the MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) campaign, a project supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This was the first rock concert ever performed at the massive 12th-century temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was bathed in floodlights for the event.

More than 1,200 fans spilled from the bleachers to the edge of the jungle to hear The Click Five from the U.S., Placebo from the U.K., Grammy Award-winner Duncan Sheik, Australian pop star Kate Miller-Heidke, Cambodian hip-hop legend Pou Klaing, and Cambodian pop stars Sokun Nisa, Meas Soksophia and Chorn Sovanrech.

"We're here to call attention to human trafficking, a form of slavery that is as big a problem today as perhaps anytime in history," Placebo lead singer Brian Molko told the invitation-only audience. The concert also featured traditional Khmer dancers and clips from Traffic: An MTV Special, a documentary about human trafficking that was funded by USAID.

Read more here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So Important It Gets Its Own Post!

Hey guys, I linked a Katie Ford interview in the post below this (and you should read it!), but just in case you don't get the chance to look at it, here's something that I think is really important for us as a group to advertise. It says that a way to get involved is to go to the site Chain Store Reaction and send emails to chain stores to ask them what they are doing to fight human trafficking. It's really easy! Just click on the link, fill in your information, change the content of the email (if you wish) and send it off! Together we can prove that consumers want SLAVERY FREE merchandise!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Power of One-Plus-Many Produced Historic Anti-Trafficking Legislation

Congress passed historic anti-trafficking legislation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) passed both the House and the Senate within several hours. That timely victory was more than two years in the making and represents the triumph of one man’s passion and a broad coalition’s power.

It is safe to say that the legislation would not exist without the whole-hearted passion and the incredible commitment, dedication, skill and determination of Michael Horowitz, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, who has for over a decade presided over a loose, broad-based coalition of left-right activists who unite in opposition to human slavery and exploitation but differ on almost every other issue. Keeping that group of diverse leaders united and focused is in itself a monumental accomplishment, but satisfying the different expectations required a level of expertise that is rare indeed.

It is also safe to say that the legislative victory would have been impossible without the grassroots involvement of organizations like Concerned Women for America and the Southern Baptist Convention — two conservative groups that have been intimately and extensively involved in the nitty-gritty lobbying and negotiating that were essential to passage of the legislation. It is rare for conservative groups to get headlines for their involvement in what is commonly referred to as “social justice” issues, yet CWA, the Southern Baptists, and the Salvation Army, along with many other evangelical organizations, are usually found in the trenches when such battles are being waged, whether domestically or internationally. Certainly, in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and labor slavery, conservative leaders are essential to success.

Read more here.

Also, here are three ads to bring light to the situation of human trafficking. They're really interesting, but also kind of graphic...

And, (I know, there's a lot today!) here's an interview with Katie Ford, former CEO of Ford Models and current modern-day abolitionist. It's an interesting interview and she very briefly addresses the issue of the new administration's role in ending trafficking. Certainly worth reading :)

High School Students Warned About Human Trafficking

Each year, thousands of young people worldwide become the victims of human trafficking, or modern day slavery. Some cases are starting to occur in urban areas of the United States. WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson visited Riverside High School on Milwaukee’s east side, where students wanted to learn more about the issue.

It’s the final hour of the school day and five dozen students have gathered in the library of Riverside High School, listening to Maggie Wynne. She’s director of anti-trafficking at the U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Her office rescues victims of human trafficking and prosecutes those responsible.

She says the crime started overseas, but in the past decade, has become more prevalent in the U. S. She says traffickers often approach teenagers and then things can happen quickly.“Say you’re a 14-year-old girl and some 22-year-old man drives up his car and starts giving you compliments and telling you how good you look and things like that. And, you start thinking this is really cool. I’ve got a cool boyfriend. He likes me and he loves me and I love him and then you start a sexual relationship. And then the boyfriend starts saying well, if you love me you’ll do some things for me, and then they start making demands. All of a sudden the demands turn into, well if you want to keep getting these nice things you have to bring in some money,” Wynne says.

Wynne says that’s how teenagers are forced into prostitution, child pornography and hard labor. Sometimes they’re flown to other countries for arranged marriages.

Read more here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Human Trafficking Victims To Get Green Card

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The U.S. federal government will grant permanent residency to human trafficking victims. On Monday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published through its website an interim final rule that permits non-immigrants with "T" and "U" statuses to acquire green cards.

The two non-immigrant classifications were the result of the approval of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000. The act granted T visas to immigrants who were victims of human trafficking and U visas to victims of crimes who suffered mental or physical abuses.

But the rules limit the adjustment of status for T visa holders to 5,000 people, although it covers only the main visa applicant, not their families who are also permitted to change their immigration status together with the main visa holder.

The USCIS explained it took the agency almost six years to come up with regulations because the change in migration status of T and U visa holders involve complex, difficult legal and policy issues which took long to resolve.

Immigration advocates hailed the release of the long overdue regulations. According to Diana Velardo, an immigration lawyer at the University of Houston, it will help the human trafficking victims move out of uncertainty and move on with their lives.

After the rules are published in the Federal Register, it will become final in 30 days.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Iqbal Masih

Hey guys, I found information on that child I talked about at the fondue party yesterday. His name is Iqbal Masih, and he's Pakistani, not Indian.
This has an interview with him, but he doesn't speak English so there's a voiceover for him.
The same website, but this talks about the school that was started in his honor.
Of course, a Wikipedia article :)
A nice news article written on the 3rd anniversary of his death.

There are other things, of course, but a lot of them have the same information over and over. But if you're interested in exploring on your own, here's a Google search for his name.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

U.S. subcontractor confined more than 1,000 foreign workers in Iraq warehouses

- McClatchy Newspapers

1,000 Asian men who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work.

Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor to KBR, the Texas firm formerly known as Halliburton, hired the men, who are from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. On Tuesday, they staged a march outside their compound to protest their living conditions.

"It's really dirty," a Sri Lankan man told McClatchy Newspapers, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he still wants to work for Najlaa. "For all of us, there are about 12 toilets and about 10 bathrooms. The food - it's three half-liter (1 pint) bottles of water a day. Bread, cheese and jam for breakfast. Lunch is a small piece of meat, potato and rice. Dinner is rice and dal, but it's not dal," he said, referring to the Indian lentil dish.

After McClatchy began asking questions about the men on Tuesday, the Kuwaiti contractor announced that it would return them to their home countries and pay them back salaries. Najlaa officials contended that they've cared for the men's basic needs while the company has tried to find them jobs in Iraq.

The laborers said they paid middlemen more than $2,000 to get to Iraq for jobs that they were told would earn them $600 to $800 a month. Some of the men took out loans to cover the fees.

"They promised us the moon and stars," said Davidson Peters, 42, a Sri Lankan. "While we are here, wives have left their husbands and children have been shut out of their schools" because money for the families has dried up.

The men live in three warehouses with long rows of bunk beds crammed tightly together. Reporters who tried to get a better glimpse inside were ushered away by armed guards.

The conditions in which the men have been held appear to violate guidelines the U.S. military handed down in 2006 that urged contractors to deter human trafficking to the war zone by shunning recruiters that charged excessive fees. The guidelines also defined "minimum acceptable" living spaces - 50 square feet per person - and required companies to fulfill the pledges they made to employees in contracts.

A U.S. military spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq referred questions to KBR. The spokesman said that the American military wasn't aware of the warehouses until McClatchy and the Times of London began asking questions about it on Monday.

Some of the men who've been living in the warehouses said that KBR representatives visited the site two weeks ago. They said Najlaa held their passports until the KBR inspection, which Najlaa officials denied. Seizing passports is a violation of the U.S. military's 2006 instructions to contractors.

KBR didn't answer direct questions about the warehouses but issued a two-paragraph statement. "When KBR becomes aware of potential violations of international laws regarding trafficking in persons, we work, within our authority, to remediate the problem and report the matter to proper authorities. KBR then works with authorities to rectify the matter," it said.

Reached in Kuwait, Najlaa chief executive Marwan Rizk said the company recruited the laborers for contracts it expected to begin servicing, but the work didn't materialize. He didn't specify which contracts fell through or why they were delayed. The company offers a number of services in Iraq, including catering at U.S. military bases.

"We had some obstacles with the services we were contracted to do," Rizk said. "These obstacles were not forecasted."

He said it's the company's practice to begin paying its employees once they start their jobs, though Najlaa credits them from the time they arrive in Iraq.

While the main complaint in the warehouses centered on living in what many considered prisonlike conditions, Najlaa officials said it was crucial to keep the men in the compound to prevent kidnappings or other dangers.

Read the rest of the report here.

Thanks to Asher for finding this and Dear Kitty for posting it!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Hey guys, I found two really interesting articles today!

Students at Calvin College are doing a Human Trafficking Awareness week that will be full of activities so people can learn more about human trafficking. Maybe we could incorporate some of these ideas into the Week of Action next semester?

Also, Fox News did an interview with Ambassador Mark Lagon concerning human trafficking. It's mostly focused on South and Central America and the Caribbeans, especially because this interview comes after Joran van der Sloot stated that he sold Natalee Hollaway into slavery for $10,000. It's a short interview, but it's very interesting. The second article is an interview with various people concerning this recent development in the Natalee Hollaway case, if you're interested.,2933,460130,00.html,2933,460108,00.html

Also, I don't know if anyone would be interested, but I've completed my thesis over human trafficking and the modern-day slave trade in Southeast Asia! Here's a link to read it, if you'd like. This is the rough draft, so if you do read it and think of any corrections I could make, PLEASE let me know! :)