Posts tagged with: International criminal law

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Detail from Pamela Alderman’s “The Scarlet Cord”

Those of you who are regular readers here at the Acton PowerBlog are very familiar with Elise Graveline Hilton’s extensive research and work on the subject of human trafficking, both here on the blog and also through her recently published monograph, A Vulnerable World. (For those of you who don’t have a copy, you can pick up a paperback version at the Acton Bookshop; a Kindle version is available as well.) As Elise was doing the hard work of writing her book, Pamela Alderman was exploring the world of human trafficking through her artistic talents, producing an installation called “The Scarlet Cord.” Her powerful work was created for ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went on to be displayed at the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. It is currently on display at the Acton Institute’s Prince-Broekhuizen Gallery.

In conjuction with Acton’s exhibition of “The Scarlet Cord,” we hosted an evening event featuring talks from both Hilton and Alderman. If you weren’t able to join us for the event, we encourage you to take the time to watch the video of the event, and to share it with your family and friends. Learn to look for the telltale signs of trafficking in your day to day life, and join the effort to stamp out this inhuman practice.

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, May 11, 2015
By

200271918-001For many of us ladies, getting our nails done is a regular bit of pampering. We stop off at the local nail salon, grab a magazine and relax while someone paints our nails. We pay our $25 and off we go.

We never, for one moment, consider the person doing our nails could be a slave.

For those who study human trafficking, nail salons have long been held as a hotspot for trafficking victims. But for the average client, the idea that the person hunched over their nails is literally a slave never crosses their mind. Last week’s New York Times followed women in four urban settings in the U.S., exploring the deplorable world they work in. (more…)

nepal earthquakeNepal has a human trafficking issue. With an open border between Nepal and India, traffickers openly move people between the two countries with promises of work. Nepalese women are trafficked to China for sex work. With the recent massive earthquake, the Nepalese who have been displaced now face the threat of trafficking.

Tens of thousands of young women from regions devastated by the earthquake in Nepal are being targeted by human traffickers supplying a network of brothels across south Asia, campaigners in Kathmandu and affected areas say.

The 7.8-magnitude quake, which killed more than 7,000 people, has devastated poor rural communities, with hundreds of thousands losing their homes and possessions. Girls and young women in these communities have long been targeted by traffickers, who abduct them and force them into sex work.

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A Cambodian boy working on a Thai fishing vessel

A Cambodian boy working on a Thai fishing vessel

It is no secret that Thailand is rife with human trafficking. It is the world’s number one destination for sex travel. (Yes, that means people travel to Thailand solely for the purpose of having sex with men, women and children who are trafficked.) Thailand’s fishing industry is also dependent on human trafficking, often using young boys at sea for long periods of time, sometimes working them to death.

Quartz is reporting today that the EU is considering a ban of Thailand seafood because of the industry’s use of slave labor. (more…)

Raphael Lemkin

Raphael Lemkin

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide – a systematic, murderous campaign carried out by the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian population, killing 1.5 million and leaving millions more displaced.

Though these atrocities have been verified through survivor accounts and historical records, to this day, not all countries have recognized the atrocities as “genocide” – the foremost being Turkey, along with others, including the United States.

In a Huffington Post article, “The United States Should Remember Raphael Lemkin’s Words and Formally Recognize the Armenian Genocide,” H.A. Goodman draws particular focus to Turkey’s animosity toward the genocide label, even threatening other countries that recognize the tragedy as genocide.

Most recently, Turkey’s resistance was displayed when Pope Francis referred to the slaughter as the “first genocide of the 20th century.” The Turkish government responded by recalling its ambassador to the Holy See.

But perhaps an even more shocking reality surrounding the Armenian Genocide is this: at the time the Ottoman Empire began exterminating the Armenians in 1915, its actions were not considered illegal. It would be another 33 years before genocide was named a crime under international law, through the United Nations’ adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948, after which the word “genocide” was created and used for the first time, only 4 years prior. For these two significant actions we have one man to thank, a largely unknown Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin.

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backpageBackpage.com has, for years, been a place for people to buy and sell household items, cars, post ads for apartment rentals … and for human trafficking. Despite the fact that the site allows for the trafficking of men, women and children, law enforcement has been lax in clamping down on the trading in flesh. Even worse, Backpage allows for the use of Bitcoin, which means such transactions are virtually untraceable.

Breitbart News reported:

A recent court case, Doe v. Backpage.com LLC, brings the issue in to astounding focus. The case filed through the Massachusetts federal court by two women details the horrifying abuses they endured as minors when they were sold for sex through ads placed on Backpage.com. Unfortunately, this case is not the first time we are hearing about this; it is one of the numerous accounts that have been reported in the last few years.

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basketballJust when I think I’ve heard and read everything about the slavery that is human trafficking, something new comes along. This time, it’s the trafficking of boys and young men for sports.

NPR’s Alexandra Starr writes about teens from Nigeria being lured to the U.S. with the promise of basketball scholarships, only to end up homeless on the streets of New York City or in foster care. Then there is this:

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security raided the Faith Baptist Christian Academy South in Ludowici, Ga., and discovered 30 young boys, mostly Dominican, who had been living in the campus gym, sleeping on the floor. Apparently students had been housed there since 2013. These boys also had been recruited to America with the promise of a high school education and a shot at a college scholarship.

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Trafficked workers striking against Signal International

Trafficked workers striking against Signal International

While sex trafficking gets a lot of media attention, labor trafficking is the larger problem globally. Recently, the largest court case ever involving labor trafficking was settled in Mississippi against Signal International. (You can read more about the case here.)

Labor trafficking is not a secret. However, we are just beginning to grasp the scope of the problem and the deep wounds it inflicts on its victims. In The Economist this week, the magazine goes so far as to say “its everywhere:”

Estimates of the number of workers trapped in modern slavery are, inevitably, sketchy. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), an arm of the UN, puts the global total at around 21m, with 5m in the sex trade and 9m having migrated for work, either within their own countries or across borders. Around half are thought to be in India, many working in brick kilns, quarries or the clothing trade. Bonded labour is also common in parts of China, Pakistan, Russia and Uzbekistan—and rife in Thailand’s seafood industry … A recent investigation by Verité, an NGO, found that a quarter of all workers in Malaysia’s electronics industry were in forced labour.

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HTFinal CoverPlease note update on free ebook giveaway.

Acton’s latest monograph, A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking, will be available as a free ebook download beginning Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 13. To access the free download, click on this link during the two-day time period.

Today, human trafficking impacts entire industries and job sectors—both legitimate and illegitimate. Monetarily, it is the second largest criminal activity in the world. Only the illegal drug trade is more profitable—and trafficking and drug smuggling are often linked. The profits generated from human trafficking play an enormous role in national and global economies. There is also the untold human cost. It is, as Pope Francis said, an open wound on humanity.

Experts believe that in the next ten years human trafficking (if left unchecked) will become more profitable to criminals than drugs and arms trafficking and will continue to grow in both developed and developing countries. The purpose of this monograph is to outline both the economic dimension and the moral fallout of modern slavery and to suggest ways that the business of trading in human beings can be severely curtailed.

One of the trailers used by Signal, International to house workers

One of the trailers used by Signal, International to house workers

While sex trafficking gets a lot of attention in the media, labor trafficking is actually more common. It largely affects middle-aged men, most of whom are looking for ways to support themselves and their families. Often faced with overwhelming poverty, these men make ill-informed and risky choices, hoping that what they are being told by potential employers is true.

In a landmark case, a Gulf Coast company, Signal International, has been ordered to pay $14 million in damages to men they had “hired” from India.

After more than four weeks of testimony and several days of deliberations, the jury found that marine construction company Signal International and its agents engaged in human trafficking, forced labor and racketeering, among other violations. (more…)