Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ukrainian State Programme of Combating Trafficking until 2020

Since my current book project looks at why countries adopt human trafficking policy I always find it interesting when one of my case studies adopts a new law related to human trafficking. Before I went to Ukraine in 2013 it was really difficult to find out about the kinds of trafficking laws that they had. It took me a while to weed through things and locate the laws in a brand new country. Fast forward to 2016, after two research trips to Ukraine, I found out that they adopted a new State Programme of Combating Trafficking until 2020 from the Ministry of Social Policy's facebook page! It is amazing how much more transparent the new regime is on new policy adoptions and that after living there and conducting research how much easier it is to find out this information.

We have been waiting for the new state programme to be adopted since the end of the last state programme ended in 2015. When I visited Ukraine last summer the Ministry of Social Policy seemed very preoccupied with the Internally Displaced Persons crisis and their attention was shifted elsewhere. So it was great to see that on February 24, 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted the Resolution "On approval of the State Programme of Combating Trafficking 2020." This programme will determine the Ukrainian government's work to combat trafficking over the next four years. It outlines a number of specific measures to combat human trafficking and gives a number f responsibilities to the central and local executive authorities. The goal of the state programme is to "prevent human trafficking, increasing the efficiency of detection of persons who commit the offense or contributing to their occurrence, protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking" (Ministry of Social Policy 2016). Since I look for the reasons why countries adopt policy it was interesting that the Ministry identified that it was "developed in pursuant to paragraphs 50 and 51 of the National Action Plan to implement the second phase of the Action Plan to liberalize the EU visa regime for Ukraine" (Ministry of Social Policy 2016). Which supports the argument in my book that the biggest influence on Ukraine with respect to policy adoption was the EU visa free regime.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thomas Remington's visit to Clayton State

In an earlier post I discussed the grant I received from the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Alumni Development Fund at American Councils and the U.S. Department of State. For the grant I organized a Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series and the culmination of that series was Thomas Remington's visit to Clayton State and his talk "Remaking the Social Contract in Russia." I first read Remington's work during my Politics in Russia class in undergrad and continued to read his research on institutions in Russia throughout my graduate career. When I received the grant Remington who is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Political Science at Emory University was the first person on my list of possible speakers and I was so happy when he accepted the invitation to come and speak. I am using the seventh edition of his Politics in Russia book in my POLS 4800 Post-Soviet Politics class this semester and so it was also great to give my students the opportunity to meet the author of their textbook as well. The visit went great, my students found his talk informative, and a number of CSU faculty including the Dean showed up for the talk. Remington was so humble and nice and it was great to meet someone who has made such a profound impact on the field and remained nice and down to earth in the process.

Thomas Remington autographing his book for one of my students

Me and Thomas Remington!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Assessment of County Level Human Trafficking Protocols

I was tasked to examine county level protocols on human trafficking for the Clayton County CEPR Multi-Disciplinary Team. A county level protocol directs people to resources and Clayton county is the county where I live and teach and so I have a vested interest in human trafficking work in the county where I live. The multi-disciplinary team related to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) has been meeting for almost a year and works to investigate trafficking offenses, as well as, facilitate judicial proceedings for the prosecution of traffickers and help the victims. To my surprise there were no other county level protocols on human trafficking in Georgia. Further investigation revealed that county level protocols were relatively rare around the United States. Only nine county level protocols from different counties around the United States were located from counties such as Ross County, Ohio; Cook County, Illinois; San Mateo County, California; Howard County, Maryland; San Francisco, California; Orange County, California; and Lucas County, Ohio. All of the protocols were formulated by county-level human trafficking task forces. 

Here are a few of the findings from my research. The main components of the protocols included a mission statement, scope of the problem, different types of responsibilities allocated to law enforcement, victims service providers, criminal justice authorities, and education and community initiatives. All of the protocols/policies were adopted in the past two years. Some of the bigger counties around the United States such as Kind county in Seattle rely on state level protocols. All of the protocols promote a collaborative approach with multiple stakeholders from different agencies and these stakeholders have clearly defined roles in the protocol. New Jersey outlines the county level task forces/coalitions protocols "are very helpful, we have also learned from experience as well as from our counterparts in other parts of the country that building personal relationships and trust among those professionals working to combat and respond to trafficking is the most critical step. From that, protocols may emerge but it is the ability to be flexible and to respond to the unique circumstances of every case that brings value to the process." 

This cursory research will help the team develop the first county level human trafficking protocol in Georgia. We are set to discuss and examine a rough draft of the protocol that I am working on with my graduate student in April.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Safe Harbor Legislation and Constitutional Amendment

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Lobby Day was February 11, 2016. This is the day that anti-trafficking organizations from around the state go down to the capitol in Atlanta and lobby for different human trafficking initiatives. This year the focus was on Safe Harbor Legislation which would grant protections for trafficking victims and so that they will be treated as victims and not prosecuted as criminals.
We have also started preparing for the Constitutional Amendment for the State of Georgia called the Safe Harbor Fund Amendment which will create a fund to help human trafficking victims by charging adult entertainment industries and seizing assets from those convicted of trafficking. This is a great editorial by Evia Golde, the Chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Women’s Leadership Council on Human Trafficking Task Force and Co-Chair of the SafeHarborYES Ballot Committee about the implications and importance of this amendment for Georgia and I encourage everyone to vote for it!

The text of the constitutional amendment will read as follows: 

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?"