Friday, January 11, 2013

Human Trafficking Awareness Targeting Traffickers, Helping Victims

Last month, a Kentucky cardiologist and his ex-wife pled guilty to recruiting a Bolivian woman to work as their domestic servant and holding her unlawfully for nearly 15 years. The couple took her passport, threatened her with deportation, and falsely promised that her wages were being put in a bank account.

Trafficking in persons is a widespread form of modern-day slavery, and as we observe National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we’d like to update you on what the FBI—with its partners—is doing to go after the traffickers and help the victims.

Human trafficking is a top investigative priority of the Bureau’s civil rights program.

During fiscal year 2012, they opened 306 human trafficking investigations around the nation involving forced labor or forced household service as well as sex trafficking of international victims (young and old) and adult U.S. citizen victims.

Along the same lines, the sex trafficking of U.S. children is also a priority within their crimes against children program. During fiscal year 2012, they opened 363 investigations into the commercial sexploitation of domestic minors. Fortunately, they were also able to locate more than 500 young victims of sex traffickers.

They participate in 88 human trafficking task forces and working groups around the country. Their efforts include not only investigating cases where they find them, but also proactively using intelligence to drive and support these cases, looking at known areas of human trafficking activities, and developing liaison relationships within communities to promote awareness of these crimes.

Help for victims.

The Bureau also has a robust assistance program in place for victims of human trafficking—as well as other federal crimes investigated by the FBI. Their Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) oversees the work of victim specialists located throughout our 56 field offices.

These specialists—experienced in crisis intervention, social services, and victim assistance—work closely with agents to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are rescued, transferred to safe locations, and provided with referrals for medical, mental health, housing, legal, and other necessary services. And this past year, representatives from OVA and their civil rights program developed a protocol for human trafficking investigations that was implemented in all FBI field offices. The protocol highlights a victim-centered approach and the need for collaboration between the investigating agent, the local victim specialist, non-governmental agencies, and other law enforcement partners.

OVA oversees their child/adolescent forensic interviewers who work with Crimes Against Children task forces and provide training for agents and task force officers working human trafficking cases. These interviewers also collaborated with partner agencies to develop an interview protocol for minor victims of sexploitation for use by professionals working against human trafficking.

Their training and awareness efforts were significant.

During fiscal year 2012, they conducted training around the country focused on defining, detecting, and investigating human trafficking cases. The audiences included law enforcement—both U.S. and international—along with government employees, religious and civic organizations, ethnic advocacy groups, schools, social service agencies, medical personnel, legal aid agencies, domestic violence services, etc.—in short, anyone in a position to make a difference in the life of a trafficking victim.

Multi-agency investigations, intelligence, victim assistance, training - the FBI's putting their tools and capabilities to work to help combat the scourge of human trafficking.

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