What does “justice” for a human trafficking victim mean? This question is more difficult than may first appear. Notes on 2016 Anti-Trafficking Events below profiles some recent events addressing this topic. For example, the United Nations Commission on Status of Women recognized that the empowerment of women and creation of sustainable societies depends on meaningful access to justice for all. In our meetings, anti-trafficking experts expressed concerns about legal challenges that frustrate their ability to fully serve the needs of human trafficking victims.
We know that despite laws criminalizing human trafficking in 90% of the countries, only a small fraction of traffickers are convicted. In a recent presentation at the University of Denver, Kristiina Kangaspunta of the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime, stressed the wide distance between number of victims and number of traffickers convicted.
The justice question is even more pressing when we consider that justice for victims means more than putting traffickers in jail. It means that those who went through the horrific experience of being trafficked have the support and access to resources they need to rebuild their lives. Having legal support in different areas of law is crucial here. A trafficking survivor may need to divorce her trafficker who is also her husband, obtain custody of her children, and clean her criminal record for crimes she was forced to commit while trafficked. All at once.
ALIGHT employs a comprehensive definition of justice that recognizes trafficking victims have diverse legal needs. We recognize that legal support is crucial for justice and is enhanced with better access to resources. ALIGHT addressed what these legal needs entail in our DATA Conference presentation.
To better address these needs, ALIGHT is excited to share that we are currently working with a technology firm on a Legal Needs Matching Pilot Project. We are testing how to improve access to legal expertise through an innovative, real-time needs matching tool through which advocates can post or assist with victims’ legal needs. The ALIGHT Legal Needs Matching Pilot Project is looking for candidates! Together we move towards the next generation of anti-trafficking solutions.
We hope you enjoy this quarterly newsletter. Share our work, check on our Ambassadors of Light Program, and continue to learn more!
In Full Light,
The ALIGHT Team
ALIGHT ENVISIONS a world where anti-trafficking professionals have the resources to achieve justice and restitution for victims of human trafficking. Our MISSION is to enable anti-trafficking advocates and legal providers to connect across borders and build solutions together.
LEGAL NEEDS MATCHING PILOT PROJECT
CALL FOR CANDIDATES!
As ALIGHT continues building relationships across borders and learning about trafficking victims’ legal needs from meetings with stakeholders from over 25 countries, we hear the demand for stronger cross-border collaboration. Given the complex and multi-faceted legal challenges that trafficking victims face, their legal representatives and advocates need a way to connect to relevant assistance.
Through the ALIGHT Legal Needs Matching Pilot, we march towards that goal.
We are looking for candidates to participate in our US-based 3 month pilot project. Do you know potential Needs Posters or Needs Responders? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Pilot Project” in the subject line.
NOTES ON 2016 ANTI-TRAFFICKING EVENTS
APRIL 21, 2016 PRESENTATION BY CHIEF, GLOBAL REPORT ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS UNIT OF UNODC
Kristiina Kangaspunta of the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime (UNODC) recently spoke at the University of Denver on “Measuring Human Trafficking: Small, Medium and Large.” Ms. Kangaspunta heads research for the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, which tackles the problem of measuring human trafficking’s international scope. She expressed many of the concerns ALIGHT has about the world justice gap: Globally only 1/4 of suspected traffickers are convicted and many, many victims are not vindicated (or even identified). At the same time, funding for anti-trafficking initiatives is decreasing.
APRIL 15, 2016 ALIGHT PRESENTATION AT DATA CONFERENCE
Our “Upgrading Legal Assistance” presentation at the Denver Anti-Trafficking Alliance Conference was premised on the comprehensive understanding of “justice” for victims. Individuals who were trafficked often face a diversity of legal challenges that block their path to restitution, security, and healing. For example, they may need help to
- File a civil case for damages against their trafficker(s)
- Collect on successful judgments
- Pursue a lost wages action
- Apply for asylum or a T/U Visa
- Pursue reunification with family members in their country of origin
- Initiate divorce/custody proceedings against an abusive spouse
- Expunge/seal previous criminal records for crimes they were charged with related to their trafficking
- Participate meaningfully in (and remain updated about) a criminal case against their trafficker(s)
- Thinking more broadly than the traditional criminal justice response allows us to better serve the victims’ interests. It also requires us to invest in systems and tools that enable strong and comprehensive legal advocacy.
MARCH 14-24, 2016 UN COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN (CSW60)
The 60th session of the CSW explored the theme: Women & UN Sustainable Development Goals. Here, human trafficking plays a prominent role and is directly addressed by 3 of the 17 sustainable development goals:
- SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
We applaud this mindset that empowerment is linked to larger systemic issues. Indeed, SDG 16 invites us to think about broad, long-term strategies that provide justice from the victim’s perspective. ALIGHT believes “access to justice for all” must encompass a system of connected legal support and resources to be in place in order to accomplish meaningful justice.
FEBRUARY 5, 2016 ALIGHT PRESENTATION AT STATE DEPARTMENT “COMBATTING TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS” FOREIGN DELEGATE MEETING
The ALIGHT team, represented by Marianna Kosharovsky, Kristen Berg, and Holly Redmond, was honored to present our views on the world justice gap to international trafficking experts from jurisdictions as diverse as Romania and Nepal. Fighting trafficking takes many forms for these stakeholders, including representing international victims, running shelters, advising on anti-trafficking policy, supporting vulnerable refugee populations, and innovating community-building collaboratives.
Many pointed out that challenges to full and meaningful legal representation of victims often remain even where anti-trafficking laws are in place. It was truly valuable to learn from their experiences, establish new partnerships, and inform our solution with their on-the-ground concerns.
AMBASSADORS OF LIGHT
As first announced in our Winter Newsletter, the Ambassadors of Light Program is an opportunity for individuals, teams, community groups, professional services firms, and other organizations to step into leadership in the anti-trafficking movement. By helping to spread ALIGHT’s work and message, Ambassadors of Light are an active part of the effort to ensure that lawyers and advocates have the tools to collaborate across borders and provide justice for victims of human trafficking.
AMBASSADORS OF LIGHT EVENT AT UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO LAW SCHOOL – BOULDER
In April, Ambassador of Light Annie Tooley, as a 3L law student and President of the Silicon Flatirons Student Group, orchestrated a fantastic event for over 25 law students. This sponsored presentation offered her constituents — fellow classmates involved in law, technology, and public interest — a way to learn more about the realities of human trafficking. Moreover, it challenged them to get involved in applying their backgrounds to this area. We look forward to their involvement!
INTERESTED IN BEING AN AMBASSADOR OF LIGHT?
You, too, can participate. Learn about the different ways Ambassadors of Light support ALIGHT here, then email our Executive Director Marianna Kosharovsky.
TO LEARN MORE
Haven’t visited our website in a while? Check out our new resources page with an extensive catalogue of reports, manuals, and case law to help you understand the many angles of human trafficking.
To learn more about human trafficking, we also invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. These recent posts on how different professions can step up to fight human trafficking were popular in our community:
Doctors identify and assist victims of trafficking
Accountants catch and deter human trafficking
Corporations and financial service firms focus on putting traffickers out of business
SUSPECT HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEAR YOU?
If you are anywhere in the US:
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
If you are specifically in Colorado:
Call the CoNEHT Hotline: 1-866-455-5075
Vital support also comes from our amazing volunteers who contributed their time and skills this spring. Thank you Anne Dunlop, Vally Dikovitskaya, Danielle Ford, and Sophia McDonald Bennett (our Social Media Volunteer)!