Since 2011, Italy has been the locus of a massive rise in onward migration from North Africa, sourced from across the sub-Sahel, as well as from South and Central Asia, and the horn of Africa. In 2016 there were 181,436 arrivals in Italy by sea. Of these there was an estimated 30,000 minors present in the mixed migration of those seeking refuge, work, futures, hope in Europe.
Requests for Asylum took some time to respond to the increase in numbers with 2017 presenting the paradox of more asylum applications than arrivals, owing to the backlog in Asylum processing which has blighted the Italian effort to appropriately respond to the sustained surge in forced migration numbers it has been absorbing into its social and administrative economy since 2014.
In 2016 a study undertaken for the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) annual report, noted that it was taking an average of 403 days from first registration of asylum, to reach the first decision. After that, if the decision was appealed the Tribunale Civile took a further 349 to hear the case, and from the second appeals court, the Corte d’Appello, a further 373 days. Where final appeals came into play the Supreme Court of Appeal – the Corted di Cassazione – took a further 688 days to receive the case and conclude its judgement. From registration to final appeal a staggering 1,813 days – just a few days short of 5 years.
Italy has been scrambling to catch up. In 2017 it eliminated the Corte d’Appello to remove the second tier of the process of appeal. At the same time it inaugurated special asylum chambers into 26 appeal courts the first tier Tribunale Civile. However warnings were soon sounding from across Italy that the backlogs were so significant that in the case of the Florence chamber, carrying a backlog of 5,440 cases in 2017, 2018 would see none of the appeals lodged in 2017 or 2018 AND just under a thousand cases originally lodged in 2016 would not be addressed either. And when all is said and done hardly any of those submitting their Asylum claims receive refugee status and subsidiary protection.
Why those who arrive in Italy stay
In 2017 only just over 13,000 of the 81,527 decisions which were made by the Italian asylum commissions, were for full refugee status or for subsidiary protection to those not qualifying as refugees but were recognised as being at risk of serious harm if they returned to their home country.
A further 25% of cases, 20,166 of the 81,527 cases before the asylum commissions, recommendations resulted in the generation of residence permits on humanitarian grounds – (health problems or preserving family unity). Humanitarian beneficiaries receive a 2 year renewable residence permit without family reunification being a deliverable. This means that the ‘humanitarian’ protection decisions which are generated for those seeking asylum in Italy, represents over half of the positive decisions passed through the commissions in Italy, a significantly different percentage than that of other European countries as the table below shows.
The difference in the percentage of Humanitarian decisions in Italy over against full asylum or subsidiary protection, being deployed in other countries in this table, is massive, and worthy of further explication by the Italian authorities and the UNHCR.
At the same time the inability of all countries to exact removals of those who have failed their asylum claim after all processes of tribunal ratification have failed, is exemplified in the following data drawn from Italy in 2017.
The countries which see most of the returns exacted are North African – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria. For third country Nationals coming from sub-Sahel there is currently a huge challenge facing Italy in achieving any voluntary or forced returns to West Africa and Sub-Sahel countries as the following data shows.
What is to be done? Europeanisation of approach
Italy’s asylum system is creaking. Not only do decisions take an unconscionable time to realise, but once realised (just under 5 years if every route for asylum is exhausted) very few of those who are present either surfaced through their asylum appeals, or simply bedding down into Italy’s grey/black economy return home. The same is true with differences in the asylum and subordinate protection recognition rate, across Europe.
Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity at a speech in the Sorbonne at the end of 2017 to highlight a fresh European wide approach. He said:
“So long as we leave some of our partners submerged under massive arrivals, without helping them manage their borders; so long as our asylum procedures remain slow and disparate; so long as we are incapable of collectively organising the return of migrants not eligible for asylum, we will lack both effectiveness and humanity … we need to do that without leaving the burden to the few, be they countries of first entry or final host countries, by building the terms for genuine, chosen, organised and concerted solidarity.”
Carrot and Stick – Safer routes to European Work and Study
An Italian-EU pilot project supported across the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to provide resources to bring the asylum process including appeals into a more efficient time frame without loss of quality. The Dutch asylum system is cited as a good example of how this can be done, in the ESI’s recent paper ‘Amsterdam in the Mediterranean’, the process from start to finish of asylum petitions takes just two months, with state funded lawyers expediting the cases through two comprehensive interviews.
Certainly a more efficient system, with full state sponsored support for the Asylum seeker would be welcomed by everybody. There are currently hundreds of thousands of migrants ‘capsized’ across Italy, caught in limbo, unable to work and prey to those who offer solutions to homelessness, hunger, loss of purpose, and lack of prospects, open season for a range of exploitative and criminal processes to be unleashed on their lives. The hope of ‘integration’ is sadly underfunded and is currently not to the general public’s political taste.
The carrot offered, to encourage co-operation from source countries in accepting back their migrating population into their polities is to increase legal access to some EU countries to give the incentive to politicians at countries of source for future and sustained co-operation. Member states of the EU can offer places for work, or for study, but either way the current stringency around legal means to access European opportunity for third countries will be ameliorated.
Will this be enough to staunch the flow of aspiration and desperation which fills the boats daily bound to Italy from the shores of the Libyan coast-line? Until some clear economic and hard consequence signals are given to those who secure the smuggling routes North through to the nightmare vortex of Libya, where there are such inhumane, instrumental and cyclical forms of financial and venal extraction played out on young African’s lives, the flow is not going to be staunched any time soon.
Meanwhile the numbers are backing up in Italy, and some of Europe’s barricades are toughening with resistance to hospitality, integration and honesty around how the global economy actually works, through the movement of goods and people, weakening.
In these circumstances, of desperation, lack of political and civic will, public disinterest in the outcomes foisted on those who have been swept up on their shores, the opportunities for incorporation into criminal and trafficked enterprises increases.
What are your thoughts on LARS – the Legal Access and Return Statement now being postulated to the UNHCR and the European Commission for consideration? Our joint sponsored symposium in Palermo in a month’s time will be exploring some of the implications of taking this forward in Italy, and how the proposals are currently being received. Readers reflections would be welcomed to inform our panel discussion on this during the week.
A Year in Focus – March 31st 2016 – Transparency, Supply Chains, and the Modern Day Slavery Act 2015.
The year in focus in this instance is based on the anniversary of March 2015. For in this particular month – on the 26th March 2015, the UK government initiated through legislation, a deviation from mainstream legal nomenclature currently being run out across the European Union to define the ‘crime’ and Human rights violation of Human Trafficking. The European framework on Human Trafficking, was initially set out in 2002 to approximate the laws and regulations of European Union (EU) countries in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters relating to the fight against trafficking in human beings. It also aimed to set out common framework provisions at European level ‘in order to address issues such as criminalisation, penalties and other sanctions, aggravating circumstances, jurisdiction and extradition’. (2002/629/JHA) Working with the same terminology, bringing together some co-ordination across policing, information sharing and policy formation around Human Trafficing was seen to be an important and responsible response to the crisis of Human Trafficking whose scale of traction in Europe was just starting to be recognised.
In 2005 the European Union sought to strengthen the commitment of the EU to preventing and combating trafficking in human beings with an additional report by the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament in May 2006 based on Article 10 of the Council Framework Decision of 19 July 2002. In this communication the Commission sought to further reinforce the commitment of the EU and its countries to preventing and combating trafficking in human beings committed for purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, and in doing so to protect, support and rehabilitate victims. In this communication the EU Commission noted that trafficking in human beings could not be effectively tackled unless an integrated approach against Trafficking was adopted, based on
respect for human rights
taking into account the global nature of the problem.
Such an approach the Commission noted required a coordinated policy response particularly in the areas of freedom, security and justice, external relations, development cooperation, employment, gender equality and non-discrimination to be realised across the European Union. In 2011 a further series of measures were announced to sharpen up the EU’s response on a number of measures around victim protection and early identification and intervention on Traffickers. Furthermore in 2009 the EU had put into place an informal network to support country based Rapporteurs on Human Trafficking in order to bolster the understanding and networking of best practice developing across the EU.
The UKs journey to the Modern Slavery Act 2015
In October 2013 the then Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime and Security James Brokenshire with Home Office backing from Teresa May and Lord Bates, introduced the Modern Day Slavery Bill. Brokenshire heralded its presence in the chamber that it would “send the strongest possible message to criminals that if you are involved in this disgusting trade in human beings, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up.” This was language first heard at the public launch of It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to fight modern slaveryin March 2013. Professor Kevin Bales was the main platform speaker at the launch of this Centre of Social Justice report – a centre close to the heart of the Conservative Government having been founded in 2004 by former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith. To a crowded room of NGOs, journalists, policy advisers, and conservative politicians, Bales called for Britain to find its former leadership on counter-slavery matters, and implied that it could find refreshed greatness as the first country to ‘eradicate slavery from its shores’ once more with the gripping of human trafficking as slavery. The bait for greatness seems to have been too much for the politicians who recieved the briefings from this meeting to let slip. And thus three years and much committee time, report commissioning, lobbying and internal civil service reorganisation and reframing of training for police, prosecutors and courts later, together with the launching of scores of new supply chain related businesses to which we now turn, we now are.
Transparency of Supply Chains and the Modern Slavery Act 2015
March 31st 2016 sees the requirement for businesses with an annual turnover of over £36 million to report on what they are doing in their businesses to resist intrusion of human trafficking and forced labour in their supply chain. This is in many ways an important inclusion in the spirit of the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight human Trafficking UN GIFT, call to incorporate big business in the global requirement to clean up the ‘supply chain’. Big brands are now recruiting counter trafficking CSR personnel and outsourcing to CSR auditting businesses to assist them in delivering ‘slavery free’ order and procurement books. A late but wlcome addition to the MDS act, when in October 2015 the transparency of ‘supply chains’ provision was appended to MDS. Hailed by Home Secretary the Hon. Teresa May as ‘a truly ground breaking measure’ and an important addition to the ‘world leading Modern Slavery Act’ of 2015, the transparency in supply chains provision in the Act brings into view, businesses with an annual turnover of over 36 million, who will want to align themselves with the Conservative Governments ‘hard and tough’ talk on counter trafficking.
A slavery and human trafficking statement for a financial year is—
(a) a statement of the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place—
(i)in any of its supply chains, and
(ii)in any part of its own business, or
(b)a statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.
All of this activity throughout 2014 and 2015, has spawned a whole new micro industry in transparency and counter trafficking resilience tool kit development in the supply chain. The Conservative administration espouses to ‘ raise the bar and send(ing) out a powerful signal to the world about the UK’s determination to confront all forms of modern slavery’. Although there is at present no real bite to the provision, as the requirement is in truth advisory with no criminal consequences for failure to report, a late in the day and significant insertion of ‘Directorate level sign off’ for the supply chain audit, offers going forward, the chance that over time, with share holder and consumer groups taking note of what the audit reveals, that the measure might gain some teeth and transformational traction.
At present though, we are very much in the foothills of the assault on restoring accountability within the supply chain in the face of all the drivers of the globalised market economy to place vulnerable communities, at considerable risk, with children, women and men caught in the slip stream of providing the cheapest and most easily disposable supply of labour in certain sectors of harvesting, processing, manufacturing and construction businesses. The challenge to render all links in the chain ‘slave, or forced labour free’ is going to be a long haul. One which will outlast every parliamentary based five year plan, for the foreseeable future, and a goal which could be significantly undermined if some of the strong regional alliances built across Europe over the last two decades to identify and resist human trafficking and forced labour presence in the supply chain are unravelled. Stakeholders who buy into this process, now at least have the sustainable development goals announced last year by the United Nations to assist them in the transformation of business goals placing the seventeen elements announced by the UN of sustainable development, with human rights based flourishing and ecological sustainability playing new roles as critical cousins to the ‘free movement of capital’, labour and the golden mean of the market, the mercantile mantra of the ‘wealth of nations’ which has powered the industrial revolution and its technological successor over the last two centuries.
The deeper background of this initiative to transform the wording of Human Trafficking legislation into a fanlfared Modern Day Slavery Act, may help us assess the likelihood of success of the rebranding which has been taking place. The role of American Academic and activist Kevin Bales has not been without significance. Bales – with a string of notable publications on the presence of slavery like practices informing his analysis of the global realisation of human trafficking – brought to Britain, language and legislative responses which many comment refer more appropriately to the cultural and racial specificity of the triangle of Caribbean and North American enslavement of African peoples across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, state sanctioned for three centuries has spawned a deadly legacy in ethnic separation and delegitimisation of an entire population within North America. As Andrew Coyle, Allison Campbell and Rodney Neufeld’s book amongst others point out, the prison based industrial inclusion of a significant part of the black population, defines the principal political asymmetries of North American society which was embedded in state sponsored slavery, and the Black Codes of 1865, emerging from the years of the American Civil War itself defined around states position on legitimising black slavery within their economies.
In vesting British legislation in such North Atlantic colours, the United Kingdom government has begun a journey which could restructure responses to Human Trafficking in the UK and further afield. There have been a number of voices expressing concern around separating the UK from the regional and international language of European directives and UN protocols developed over the last decade with an overarching framework built internatationally to accord with the edicts of the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Human Beings (2003) and the subsequent Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings opened for signature in Warsaw in 2005 and eventually ratified in the UK on the 17th December 2008. The next six months, with the up coming referendum on the UK’s place in the European Union, and the current policies emerging in Europe around the control of recent ‘surges’ in migration will have a significant role to play in how the UK moves forward with its new umbrella legislation, and how its wider regional partners react to its changes.
To the outside observer, tougher language – announcing a UK hostile to ‘modern day slavery’ – should signal tougher responses to those who commit trafficking crimes. But in truth very little appears to have altered. True there are a couple of new provisions included which beef up the provision of advocacy for children caught within the processes of trafficking, and two new civil orders put in place which assist police challenges in moving forward enquiries internationally. However this could have been undertaken within the existing framework of counter trafficking responses. For many of its critics, the new act is seen as window dressing, and the role and contribution of the welcome presence of some independence in the appointment of an Anti Slavery Commissioner to monitor and hold accountable the policing response to enforce the new legislation, though welcomed, yet to be fully put to the test. A great deal of money and energy has been spent reallocating legislation already in place to some new locations. Parliamentary questions will eventually disclose at quite what cost, when other capabilities of the Criminal Justice System have been, some might comment by stealth, dismantled. We shall be blogging on this aspect later in the year, as some of the first year results of the MDS in place are analysed with the 2015 – 2016 National Referral Mechanism numbers assembled later in 2016.
So what in case you missed it did the Modern Day Slavery Act bring to the party which was not already in place.
The Modern Day Slavery Act 2015
The act brought in a number of changes principally the long overdue appointment of an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, (NGOs in the UK had been lobbying for the appointment of an independent Rapporteur on Trafficking, appointed in many European and international states for some years now) in the person of a former senior police officer who had served with particular distinction during the 2012 London Olympics, in the Vice and trafficking unit S014.
The consolidation of a range of counter trafficking, kidnap and slavery legislation which had been distributed across the legal shelves. This it is said will enable the easier absorption and implementation by police forces, prosecutors and the criminal justice system of counter trafficking measures
The introduction of two new civil orders to enable the courts to place restrictions on those convicted of modern slavery offences, or those involved in such offences but not yet convicted
The clarification of mechanisms for seizing traffickers’ assets and channelling some of that money towards victims for compensation payments – which had been informally operating over the last decade under the processes of the proceeds of crime act 2004 (POCA)
The creation of a new statutory defence for slavery or trafficking victims, compelled to commit criminal offences whilst under the control of their traffickers
The provision (in a piloted trialling) of child trafficking advocates
What have been the impacts?
Of course it is still to early to call. The impacts of all this churn, publicity and publishing attached to the Modern Slavery Act has raised a generation of NGO neophytes some of whom believe that before 2015 the United Kingdom had not been undertaking any strategically informed responses to human trafficking –chronically inaccurate but that is the advantage and risk of rebranding. It is quite extraordinary how such a young discipline as counter trafficking has already yielded to a chronic loss of short term memory, with all the work of Operations Pentameter (pp16-17) one and two under the leadership of Chief Constable Dr Tim Brain, and the pioneering development of the first multi-agency and inter-departmentally co-operating Centre to address intelligence gathering and strategic advice for United Kingdom Police Forces, the UK Human Trafficking Centre initially based up in Sheffield under the leadership of Assistant Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell, largely forgotten.
What the motives of this rebranding were are not completely clear. However it will repay research efforts to explore the ways in which European politicians have sought over the last decade to move counter trafficking discourse away from explicitly policing and enforcement requirements, to announcing discourse around higher moral and political values being championed by politicians. The inner politics of how power is wielded and distributed across the various arms of state, let alone how states choose to interact with one another across the wider vantage of the geo-political map is also in play in this recent piece of UK reallocation of the names we call gross exploitation by. It should also be noted that when focussing on the depravities of ‘modern day slavery’ our political and socio-economic attention can be steered away from the role which States and Businesses play in rendering millions of global citizens stateless or at appalling risk where lives are lost in thousands through forced migration, forced labour and super exploitation become the only options available to sustain life, gender based violence rises exponentially as summary eviction occurs due to man-made sustainability crises, war, threatened genocides, ecological devastation, from places where people for many generations have formerly called home.
What will be areas to watch for 2016?
This last year has seen unprecedented numbers of refugees and economic migrants seeking to enter the jurisdiction of the European Union without ‘due process’. Whether seeking to access the southern-most point of entry into Europe through Italy, via its first port of call Lampedusa, from North Africa, or cut across from Turkey to the necklace islands of Greece, many thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds, North Africans, Afghans, Somalis and Eritreans have died in 2015. Their exact number will never be known – though continued deaths experienced on this southern route this year alone will undoubtedly be counted in thousands. The logistics of the refugee and smuggling facilitated genocide, lack the record keeping required to be able to properly estimate the level of the horrors which have been taking place in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. The International Organisation for Migration have assessed the numbers arriving into Europe through the Adriatic and the Mediterranean as more than 1,011,700 migrants, with only 34,900 accessing European borders by land. These numbers will be extremely tough for public opinion in the European Union to politically stomach, for a number of reasons which requires another thought piece to dismantle – and it has to be announced that set in a global context the numbers on the move north to the European Union are a paltry percentage of the millions of people on the move, seeking safety and economic survival world-wide.
With the civil war in Syria still raging, North Africa yet to emerge from the chaos which followed the displacement of its ‘tyrants’ and the ongoing presence, terror and appeal of Daesh and its associated networks wreaking havoc within the instability of these regions, the refugee crisis which emerged as the number one political crisis for Europe in 2015, will continue to generate anxieties around migration, border security and internal political stability across the Union. There will undoubtedly be ricochets in the world of counter trafficking, and the potential of ‘modern day slavery’ being interjected into discourses to potentially disrupt clarity in thinking, around sustainability and human rights informed immigration policies, asylum requirements , ongoing flexible labour force needs, competing international and national security concerns, social protection and privileging within nation states, and the role ethnic alignment and historical imperial privileging plays out for so many national identities across the globe.
This is a time when informed interventions around smuggling and human trafficking whilst rendering asylum fuelled migration safe across internationally recognised national borders will occupy significant time and thought from all our politicians and their advisers. It is a time when those involved with applied research in this area have a particular responsibility to bring some clarity, assisting policy makers to be fully apprised of the human rights and sustainability framed issues which we are confronted with in a world where there is suffering and terror, as well as great opportunities to join up our thinking and actions with regionally based programmes which recognise the interconnectedness of our political, economic and cultural choices and our inter-regional dependencies. In this the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Human Beings was clear – no nation can resist the challenges presented in Human Trafficking alone. All are accountable to each other in the deep and complex processes of resistance, prevention, protection, recovery and socio-economic, cultural, behavioural as well as crimogenic changes required to turn the tide on this particular form of human misery and super exploitation.
Earlier this year, before Olympic fever spread across the globe, the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons released the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report (‘TIP Report’). The Report, issued in June each year in accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, sets out to provide a comprehensive account of human trafficking and anti-trafficking efforts around the world. It acts both as a primary reference and as a source of information on government efforts to combat the trade. The Report reviews the work of 184 countries and then ranks them according to three tiers based on the extent of trafficking in the country and progress on combating it. These rankings act as the United States Government’s primary diplomatic tool regarding anti-trafficking efforts by foreign governments, representing an opening of dialogues with different states aimed at advancing anti-trafficking actions and better allocating resources.
At first glance, it is apparent that many countries are doing better in combating trafficking. While Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic were recently ranked as very poorly attending to trafficking, new legislation and the implementing of comprehensive strategies to encourage the Four Ps – prevention, protection, punishment and partnerships – have moved both countries up a tier. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic, which slipped down a tier last year, regained its Tier 1 status following developments in anti-trafficking laws and the securing of convictions under these new laws.
However, it is rather notable that the tier rankings of certain states have not improved over time, with some several countries falling down a tier again this year. Many of these countries are plagued with widespread violence and conflict. Such conditions have made the assessment of anti-trafficking efforts and developments more difficult. It remains, though, that while the Report aims to encourage better efforts regarding the Four Ps, certain states are not responding to the Report.
In large part, such a failure to respond may be the result of the United States being perceived as failing to allocate funds based on the recommendations of the tier system. While the Reports aim to improve anti-trafficking efforts through a carrot and stick approach of economic benefits for efforts to comply with standards and sanctions for continued failures to meet standards, the continued failure to apply sanctions on certain states whilst continuing to sanction others has led to a perceived bias. Such accusations of bias were articulated on 19 June 2012 by Russia, which expressed clear discontent at its continued placement in Tier 2, whilst other states, including the United States itself, continue to receive a Tier 1 ranking despite profound trafficking issues and large numbers of victims.
While clearly the Report does provide valuable information, such complaints highlight some valid issues around the nature of the evaluation system being used to rank countries. First, the criteria and requirements for tier placement are difficult to identify. They are mired in complexity, which, added to a lack transparency in the way in which data is collated and translated into ranking positions, leads the report to appear only partial. Second, the Report only assesses the actions of governments not the actions of other organisations operating within a country. Such a limitation means that organisations that may have significant impacts remain unaccounted for and not fully assessed. Third, the rankings adopt United States standards rather than internationally agreed standards, imparting culturally specific criteria that could result in unique factor operating in other countries being ignored. For instance, several Caribbean and South American states have pointed out that their child labour problem is being overstated, as it is common for young family members to help with harvests without being paid. They argue is a culturally normal, household-based, and non-exploitative form of labour in states where farming remains a family effort.
What all this evidences is a greater need for the United States to engage other countries and jurisdictions in formulating the Report for 2013. Developing co-operation around data collection and the matrices which inform the interpretative grid must occur both in before and after publication. The State Department must take heed of its own advice and focus on the fourth P, partnerships. By mobilising different resources and working with its critics, the Department will be able to build greater counter-trafficking resilience, understandings and interventions that push the fight against trafficking further along its path.
Our thanks to Advocate Beatri Kruger who works in at the Free State University in South Africa for the following update on South Africa where the legislature is developing its response to Human Trafficking – she informs us about the following news released yesterday.
Human trafficker Adina dos Santos was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Pretoria Regional Court on the 20th July 2011. Dos Santos was found guilty of trafficking three girls from Mozambique who had been forced into prostitution and worked in South Africa. Dos Santos was in addition to life imprisonment, also given a one-year sentence for living off the money she had made from the girls.
This is very significant case. The giving of a life-sentence now clearly sends the message that human trafficking is categorised among the most serious of crimes in South Africa and signals clearly that those who traffick in human beings can no longer get away with impunity, or light sentencing in South Africa.
Dos Santos was convicted of sex trafficking under the terms of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 32 of 2007. South Africa is currently reviewing its legislation on human trafficking and its comprehensive legislation regarding both child and adult trafficking has still not passed through the legislature. However there is interim legislation in place criminalising
-all forms of child trafficking and
-sex trafficking of adults
which are now in force on which courts are reaching their judgements, and judges sentencing on the strength of them.
In May two Chinese women who allegedly ran a brothel in Goodwood, South Africa were accussed of luring young women from China to South Africa. They were charged with keeping a brothel and human trafficking, but because the charges involve sexual offences, they have not yet been named until they plead. They were set bail conditions of R5000 – less than £500 each.
The women were accused of luring young Chinese women to South Africa with false promises of jobs that paid monthly salaries of up to R50,000 (£4,481). Chinese women are some of the most at risk women and girls in the world, in the current global movement of women for sex, domesticated servitude and trafficked labour.
The dos Santos judgement, is just one part of the long haul in getting a grip internationally on the globally realised crime of human trafficking – but an important one. As IOM acting chief of mission in South Africa Erick Ventura noted – ‘human traffickers in South Africa have in the past been rarely taken to court and only charged with minor offences such as “keeping a brothel” when they have been brought for prosecution.’
Without appropriate – punishment fits the crime judgements – those who benefit from as much as £100,000 per woman/minor exploited within trafficking for sexual exploitation – will continue to ply their illicit merchandising. Other dimensions of the trade need to be addressed as well. Importantly, dos Santos would have made no money whatsoever if there had been no clients to purchase the three young Mozambicans whom she had imported and forced into prostitution. And thereby hangs a longer and more critical cultural conversation for most countries in the world to engage with.
If you have news on recent judgements or decisions occurring in your context on which you would like us to comment or feature in the CCARHT blog drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a “looming potential explosion of human trafficking around the Super Bowl,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was reported as saying by Newsweek yesterday. Certainly there is strong evidence that during the Superbowl when over 100,000 fans descend on the designated city, cases of super-exploitation within the sex industry arise, and within that mix can be found those who have been trafficked, either internally in the USA or across international borders.
In 2009 when the Superbowl was played in Tampa Florida, 24 children were later taken into care by the Department of Children and Families who were designated as victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, and had been brought into the city for ‘use’ during the Superbowl festivities.
CCARHT is currently looking into the hard and softer evidence surrounding concerns about the linkages of trafficking for sexual exploitation and major national and international sporting events. Our report on the indicators of trafficking challenge around FIFAs world cup events, and the Olympic Games is currently being finalised – One thing that can be said for certain – in an environment where male leisure activity and surplus wealth can be channelled into purchasing sexual services, supply of these services will rise to fulfil the demand. The risk of some of those caught in the matrix of buying and selling, having been trafficked, increases year on year, as trafficking networks develop their muscle to super-exploit women, children and men in a global market. Thankfully states are not completely passive in the face of this exploitation of people’s liberty and dignity. However enforcement agencies, ordinary citizens, third sector agencies, businesses and government at local, regional and national level need to be alert to the movement of people deprived of their fundamental liberty to refuse their labour, trafficked across every border of the globe.
We shall be in touch with the justice department and some of the lead NGOs to analyse what does go down at this year’s Superbowl. Meantime NGOs and Citizen advocacy groups seeking to raise awareness of the human rights and dignity issues which cluster around the buying and selling of sexual services will do well to look at the range of ongoing economic and power inequalities which squeeze people into a place where they are vulnerable to the abuse of those who would pimp and those who would traffic them.
It is in the current context of anxiety around the horrendous crime which trafficking represents, which includes trafficking for labour in which men are as likely to be exploited as women, trafficking for sexual exploitation, trafficking for social benefits and insurance fraud, and trafficking for organ exploitation, to focus exclusively on a campaign around Trafficking for sexual exploitation, and neglect other longer term, endemic and presient issues of inequality and gendered violence.
In a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania Professors Estes and Weiner suggested that between 244,000 and 325,000 young men and women were at risk in the United States of some form of super-exploitation.
However all statistics need to be managed and cited with caution – as they say:
These estimates…reflect what we believe to [be] the number of children in the United States “at risk” of commercial sexual exploitation, i.e. children who because of their unique circumstances of runaways, thrownaways, victims of physical or sexual abuse, users of psychotropic drugs, members of sexual minority groups, illegally trafficked children, children who cross international borders in search of cheap drugs and sex, and other illicit fare, are at special risk of sexual exploitation. The numbers presented therefore, reflect the actual number of cases of the CSEC in the United States, but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children “at risk” of commercial sexual exploitation.
As the NGOs and counter trafficking activists face off with bloggers accusing them of Misandry, and riding on the back of Superbowl induced hyperbole – it is well to remember that over inflating numbers could risk undermining long term resilience in addressing trafficking – which in all its forms is an expression of a fundamental erasure of human dignity, respect and worth- by the well worn path of crying wolf and then being unable to display the circling wolfpack.
However given the current known presence of trafficked women and children caught in the sex industry’s darker underbelly throughout the ‘developed’ world, as women’s education and aspirations enable them to move away from this enduring rung of accessing finance into other forms of wealth creation, trafficked women and children in the Superbowl’s wake will undoubtedly be present in the mix. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is right to alert law enforcement to a proper mindfulness to this form of superexploitation – but Dallas and those who come to the sporting festivities could benefit in taking some stock of the wider issues of exploitation operating and cashing in on the multiple opportunites which the gain in visitor dollars affords to the unscrupulous and the desperate.
The longer term arena of economic and social inequalities within the Nation’s own domestic ‘household’ arrangements as the University of Pennsylvania report suggests – shows there is plenty of room for some energetic conversation and interventions around the supply chain, and the demand cycle which drives the strange business of people’s – mainly women’s but also the unnerving use of children for sexual services for cash and highly abusive pornography. There will undoubtedly be some men who find themselves inadvertantly having ‘leased’ a trafficked woman whilst seeking what they consider innocuous sexual entertainment. One of our serious and sustained conversations in the third millenium must be about what the significance of gender equality, and children’s inalienable rights is in relation to the whole culture of renting bodies for sex. It will continue to excite tempers, and fray public servant’s nerves as the pay off between choice, freedom, dignity and exploitation is worked through.
Superbowl aside there is an opportunity here for some soul searching on how societies build solid socially just, psychologically empathatic and economically stable environments at home and abroad so that the numerous exclusions and lack of security which puts so many children, women and young men in the USA , and globally ‘at risk’ of profound exploitation today, can be addressed in a long term, strategic and effective manner – not just a matter of a few high balls and crowd ‘hysteria’ in Dallas next week.