Confronting human trafficking in the United States
I sat with other private individuals and NGO
representatives last week and listened to Lou de Baca, senior prosecutor and
a leading United States assistant district attorney, talk about human
trafficking. I was amazed at the number and diversity of cases he has
handled in the USA. Trafficking seemed to be one of those strange things
that rarely reared its ugly head when I lived there. We read occasional news
accounts of foreign women who had been tricked into brothels, or migrant
workers stuffed into vans and transported over borders. Somehow, it wasn’t
real to us, but we were wrong.
Lou de Baca has been prosecuting cases for over a decade.
He now serves as the Involuntary Servitude and Slavery Coordinator for the
Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. I am amazed that
such a need exists in a western country in 2005, but my research shows that
many western countries are engaged in just such battles against this crime.
Under U.S. law, the focus is not on the smuggling or movement of persons
over borders but on how people are held against their will in compelled
service. Forced manual labor, such as working on farms or in sewing
factories; forced street begging or selling of trinkets; and forced domestic
servitude are all treated as human trafficking violations.
In the case of the U.S. v. Pipkins, the now-convicted and
imprisoned Pipkins believed that he could avoid trafficking charges by not
operating across state lines or country borders. A notoriously violent sex
trafficker, he is presently serving 34 years in federal prison. Prosecutors
in the case utilized a slavery paradigm of forced or coerced labor against
the will of the women working for him in seeking his conviction.
Most of the modern literature identifies the “3P
Paradigm” of approaching human trafficking – prosecution, protection and
prevention. While countries have taken various approaches in the past, the
Palermo Protocol of 2000 encourages this comprehensive tack. An educated
public is not easy to traffic, whether male or female. Job opportunities and
literacy are essential components in prevention. But strong prosecution is
also important, which means that laws must be constantly examined. The
trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 criminalizes broad formers of
labor coercion, increases criminal penalties, and requires both restitution
to victims and forfeiture of assets gained through criminal activity,
effectively hitting human traffickers where it hurts worst – in the
The final part of the 3P approach is victim protection.
Far too often, victims are treated as perpetrators. In some countries they
may even be imprisoned and charged with illegal entry or visa violations.
Mr. de Baca emphasized that victims of trafficking may
have made bad decisions when they became involved with trafficking
organizations, but that the “challenge is to be compassionate and not
write them off”. He states that human trafficking is a terrible example of
“man’s inhumanity to man”.
For further information on human trafficking and the international
response, log on to www.humantraf ficing.org, www.Bangkok.usem bassy.gov or
Tourism Thailand 2006 targets the North
TAT plots marketing plan to attract tourists
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is developing its
marketing plans and is holding a meeting between government and private
sectors in the northern region to exchange information about tourism and to
further examine tourism strategies.
Akhapol Pleuksawan, director of policy and planning
department of the TAT, reported that there were 1.6 million tourists fewer
than in the previous years and that the previous target of 12 million
visitors was not reached.
The dwindling numbers were put down to bird flu,
increased fuel oil costs and the terrorism and tsunami related situations in
the southern provinces. However, there were 13 million tourists, (but this
figure includes Thais), who visited the northern region. Although the number
of tourists to the North has increased over the last two years, it was still
less than to other regions, resulting in northern tourism revenue dropping
to position three, 70 million baht less than Bangkok (306 million baht in
total), and southern regions receiving 156 million baht. The top five
northern destinations were Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Chiang Rai, Nakhonsawan
and Tak, and the most popular activities were shopping, with 60 percent;
making merit at temples, 51 percent; sightseeing, tasting local food at 39
percent, and visiting ancient sites at 26 percent. Most tourists arrived
from Europe, Asia and USA. However, there were several aspects considered
weak points, such as tourist commodities were only in the cities and the
lack of linking routes. An attractive point was the local culture.
Jaruboon Tana-non, director of the sales promotion
department of the TAT, recommended the North concentrate on different groups
such as families, and offer new routes like Chiang Mai, Tak and Phitsanulok,
new products like OTOP and to promote eco-tourism.