Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Panel Discussion on “Human Trafficking”

This week I was asked to chair a panel on human trafficking for the Atlanta Council on International Relations on March 18 with some very big names in the anti-trafficking community. The speakers are below and I am honored and thrilled to be monitoring this panel and an Ambassador, Assistant Attorney General, and US Senator!

A Panel Discussion on “Human Trafficking”
Speakers:  Susan Coppedge, Ambassador-at Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State;
Camila Wright, Human Trafficking Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General, State of Georgia; and
David Perdue (invited), U.S, Senator from State of Georgia
Panel Moderator: Laura Dean, Professor, Clayton State University

Here is more information on the talk if you are interested in attending.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lobbying for Safe Harbor Legislation

In the Capitol building atrium!
I spent Tuesday morning at the capitol lobbying for Safe Harbor legislation which would vacate criminal convictions for victims of human trafficking for crimes committed while they were trafficked. I believe that this a vital component to the human rights approach versus the criminal justice approach to trafficking because it ensures that victims are treated as victims and not prosecuted as criminals! Thirty-four states have passed safe harbor laws so we are hoping Georgia will be next. The legislation is limited in scope and only offers protections to those under 18 years of age that have been commercially sexually exploited and many of those existent laws only offer legal protections to prostitution and prostitution-related crimes when they should likely extend beyond that but still we have to start somewhere!
The introduction of bill on the floor of the Senate!

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine

This week I gave the first lecture in my Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series on "New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine." This lecture was given as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which was established in 2007, when the U.S. Senate designated January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The month seeks to raise awareness to human trafficking and culminates in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1st. 
My color coordinated lecture complete with a Ukrainian rushnyk!
The lecture I gave discussed the consequences of the war in Ukraine on human trafficking in that country based on fieldwork and interviews I conducted in 2012-2013 and again in 2015. As a result of the conflict, anecdotal evidence has been reported of the use of child soldiers by the rebel forces in combat  as well as forced recruitment/kidnapping of men and boys for exploitation in the armed conflict. There have also been reports of kidnapping of women and girls for the “purposes of sex and labor trafficking” by the anti-government forces. Child begging is also still a problem. There has been a shift in labor trafficking from male victims to female victims since the crisis started. War, displacement, and the economic crisis in Ukraine have led to an increase in the number of people vulnerable to human trafficking. While some of the displaced have fled to Russia, it is no longer the preferred destination for Ukrainian labor migrants as most now prefer Poland or Germany. The at-risk population has increased and the post-conflict situation has fueled the push factors enticing people to leave Ukraine. The IDP crisis has taken the emphasis off of human trafficking in the Ministry of Social Policy. Bureaucrats inside the ministries have changed and the institutional knowledge of trafficking is lacking. New working groups meet more often and are better coordinated. The economic recession has placed a strain on government resources.
Getting to use all of my post-Soviet tableware! Any good post-Soviet lecture must serve tea and cookies!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal

I like to keep tabs on new human trafficking resources to see if they would be useful in the future for my research purposes. I have known about the University Michigan's Human Trafficking Law Project (HTLP) database since it was established in 2011. I have not used the database since I don't track legal proceedings or sentencing data for traffickers in the United States at this point in my research. This past week I learned about a new database sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime called the Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal. According the website, it is is an "initiative to facilitate the dissemination of information regarding the implementation of the Palermo Protocol." Examining the implementation of the protocol and how states choose to conform with the protocol is precisely the topic of my current research. So I was really excited to learn about this new portal which includes a case law database for international case law on human trafficking and a database for legislation. The database is called SHERLOC (Sharing Electronic Resources and Law On Crime). According to the website, most of the "legislation included in this database has been enacted specifically to counter trafficking in persons." Looking over the different laws, the database focuses on the criminalization statutes and some national laws but not any other types of laws or policies related to victims services. Despite the incomprehensiveness of the database, I think it is a good start and includes laws and policies from 95 different countries. Hopefully more laws and policies will be added in the future and then it will be a useful and informational database.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series

This semester I received a small grant from the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Alumni Development Fund from American Councils and the U.S. Department of State to organize a lecture series on the current issues in the post-Soviet region. As part of the lecture series I am giving a talk on the "New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine: In Recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month." I am looking forward to sharing my research from this past summer and educating people at Clayton State about the war in Ukraine and its consequences as part of human trafficking awareness month.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Resolution...

It has been a little over a year since I posted on my human trafficking research and travel blog! It is not because I haven't been doing wonderful things over the past year related to human trafficking. In fact, it is most likely because I was busy doing so many things as part of my advocacy work that I simply did not have time to write. However, a colleague of mine made it his New Year's Resolution this year to write once a week on his blog, so even though I do not like resolutions, I am going to make it a goal for myself this year to try and write once a week on this blog. Since I am doing so many things related to human trafficking in Atlanta, I figured I should document them, my perspectives, and my research more than just a simple post on facebook. So here goes nothing! This year 2016, I resolve to reflect on the things I did last year and also document all of the activities and advocacy work I will do this year!
This is one of my favorite events from last year the the Red Sand Project at the Center for Civil and Human Rights which invites people to find sidewalk cracks and fill them with red sand to help raise awareness of the vulnerabilities that lead to exploitation and human trafficking!