Human Trafficking at a glance--

By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

What is Human Trafficking?

The United Nations defines human trafficking as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation." It is called modern day slavery.

Human trafficking is world-wide.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that approximately 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked around the world annually. Of these numbers, about 80 percent are women and children. Trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry second only to drug trafficking. The amount of money generated from trafficking is estimated at more than $32 Billion.

The Department of State, in the 2010 report on government progress in addressing trafficking, placed each country onto one of three tiers based on local government action to combat trafficking. Tier rankings are:

Tier 1--countries that have enacted laws prohibiting severe forms of trafficking and include criminal punishments upon conviction

Tier 2--countries that recognize the problem and are making significant efforts to enact legislation

Tier 3--countries that are not making significant efforts to combat trafficking

The world, in 2000, embraced international standards, known as the Palermo Protocol, to combat modern slavery. Currently, 137 countries have adopted it.

Human trafficking in the United States.

According to the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking in the United States includes both domestic and transnational trafficking. An estimated 17, 500 victims are brought to the United States each year. Many more are trafficked internally. The majority of the victims trafficked from overseas are brought from Africa, Asia, India, China, Latin America and the former Soviet states such as the Republic of Moldova or Ukraine.

The U. S. response.

In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, was passed and signed into law. The goals of TVPA are to prevent human trafficking overseas, protect victims and help them rebuild their lives in the U. S. with Federal and State support, and prosecute traffickers under stiff Federal penalties. To date, 21 states, including Michigan, have passed anti-trafficking legislation.

Human trafficking in Michigan.

Michigan has had human trafficking incidents. In January of 2007, two Greenville, Mich., residents were arrested on federal charges of human trafficking and immigrant violations when they allegedly trafficked a young woman, held her against her will and forced her into servitude.

Later that same year a Detroit man was sentenced to 14 years in prison and to pay more than $1.5 million for serving as a ring-leader in a human trafficking conspiracy. The man, Aleksandr Maksimenko, 27, forced women from Eastern Europe to work as strippers and exotic entertainers in Detroit nightclubs.

In 2006, Michigan House Bill 5747 became law. It punishes perpetrators of human trafficking in Michigan. Individuals convicted under the law can receive a 10 to 15 year sentence or life in prison if the activity results in the death of another.

Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking:

Victims of human trafficking may exhibit bruises or other physical trauma, be withdrawn or show signs of depression or fear. They are often mal-nourished or inappropriately dressed based on weather conditions or surroundings. They may make reference to frequent travel to other cities. They will not have control over their identification documents. They may show signs of drug addiction.

Those in the sex trade usually have a 'boyfriend' who is noticeably older (10+ years) and make reference to sexual situations or terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age-specific norms, engage in promiscuous behavior, and may be labeled "fast" by peers

Reporting trafficking crimes or to get help:

You can report trafficking crimes and get help by calling:

* Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line at 1-888-428-7581 (voice and TTY). New laws provide options for trafficking victims regardless of immigration status. Operators have access to interpreters and can talk with callers in their own language. The service is offered on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. After hours, information is available on tape in English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin.

* Contact your local FBI office.

* Contact the 24/7 toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.

For more information, visit http://www.humantrafficking.org, a web resource for combating human trafficking.

Published: Thu, Oct 21, 2010

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