We are pleased to announce the expansion of our team with five new colleagues. In March we welcomed Leah Sullivan and Borislav Gerasimov to the Communications and Advocacy team. Leah has previously worked with Anti-Slavery International, UNDP and the EU Mission to the UN and Borislav has long work experience with our European members Animus Association and La Strada International. Together with Alfie Gordo, they will develop and implement GAATW-IS’s Communications and Advocacy Strategy and strengthen GAATW’s role and presence on the international arena. In April we welcomed Gita Jena as a Programme Coordinator and Maitreyi Gupta as a Project Officer South Asia. Gita has 25 years of professional career in the field of promoting gender, justice, equality and inclusive and just development with, among others, Oxfam/Novib. At GAATW-IS she will help strengthen our programmes and team. Maitreyi is an international women’s rights lawyer from India and has worked on labour migration, human trafficking and violence against women with a regional focus on South Asia. She will analyse the laws and policies on human trafficking, labour migration and related themes in South Asia in order to identify implementation gaps. In July we welcomed Storm Tiv as Programme Officer Southeast Asia. Storm has previously worked with the Legal Aid Foundation in the US and Human Rights Watch in Southeast Asia and will be responsible for our engagement in this region. We also contracted Maria Stacey as an external lead researcher for our new project on sex workers organising. Maria has long experience with SWEAT in South Africa and strong connections with sex workers groups around the world.
On 31 May GAATW launched the sixth issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review ‘Prosecuting Human Trafficking’. This issue analyses human trafficking prosecutions in different regions of the world and from a range of dif
ferent perspectives. With five themed articles focusing on Russia, the United States, the Balkans and Western Europe, the issue provides valuable insights into the practical and policy issues surrounding human trafficking prosecutions. Some of the challenges analysed in the articles include conditional assistance, definitions and their interpretation and application, and victims’ experiences with the criminal justice system.
In the Debate Section, nine authors take sides to defend or reject the proposition: ‘Prosecuting trafficking deflects attention from much more important responses and is anyway a waste of time and money’. While th
ere is considerable diversity in views among contributors, most authors argue around one of two central ideas: failure to prosecute trafficking effectively makes a mockery of criminalisation and ensures the cycle of exploitation will continue unchecked; and, prosecutions that ignore the rights and needs of victims are hollow victories that will never deliver true justice.
We organised two side events to present and promote the issue to broader audiences. On 31 May Anne Gallagher, the guest editor of this issue, presented it at a seminar of the British human rights law firm Doughty St Chambers in London, attended by lawyers, barristers, service providers and advocates who work with victims of human trafficking in the UK. On 2 June Borislav Gerasimov, Co-Editor, together with Suzanne Hoff and Mike Dottridge from the Editorial Board, presented the issue in Belgrade at a conference of our Serbian member ASTRA, focusing on access to justice and compensation for victims of trafficking in Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
In May GAATW hosted a one-week learning trip for two partner organisations from India to visit partners and key stakeholders in Kuwait. Sr Josephine Valarmathi from the National Domestic Workers Movement, Sr Lissy Joseph from the National Workers Welfare Trust and advocates Hubertson Tom Wilson and Shankar Nalli attended a workshop co-hosted by GAATW, the Kuwait Society for Human Rights and the Arab Network for Migrant Rights on 10 May entitled ‘The Crime of Human Trafficking and Its Impact on Societal Security.’ GAATW also sponsored two representatives from Tamkeen Fields for Aid to attend the workshop. The workshop discussed the Kuwait government’s anti-trafficking initiatives, connected a number of ministries with each other and local civil society organisations, and provided opportunities for the Indian and Jordanian partners to share their experiences and good practices in supporting exploited and trafficked migrant workers. Participants included officials from the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Interior, the government-run shelter for distressed migrant workers, local lawyers, and representatives from the embassies of the United States of America and Ethiopia, among others.
Afterwards, the participants met with several local organisations and migrant worker associations to better understand the problems migrant workers face in Kuwait and the hurdles that prevent them from accessing justice after their rights have been violated. The trip also included a visit to the Kuwait government’s shelter for distressed migrant workers, where participants were also able to speak with a number of women about their cases and to collect information to follow-up with the women’s families. Participants also visited the Indian Embassy to meet with the Deputy Chief of Mission and two Labour Attachés.
To learn more about the work done in Kuwait, the partners met with Sandigan, a Filipino organisation that provides direct aid and repatriation support to exploited Filipino migrant workers and with Project 189, a local organisation that promotes the rights of domestic workers in Kuwait. Additionally, GAATW-IS and the partners learned more about the different associations for Indians in Kuwait and attended a church popular with migrant workers from a number of different countries and languages. Overall, the trip provided tremendous insight into the challenges facing migrant workers and the gaps in services available. We look forward to utilising these new friendships to collaborate in the future on increasing the protection space for migrant workers in Kuwait.
In June GAATW-IS presented at the UNITAR-CIFAL’s ‘Training on Enhancing a Victim-Centred Approach: Identification, Assistance and Protection of Trafficking Victims in the Asia-Pacific Region’ in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. One of the main objectives of the workshop was to understand how anti-trafficking strategies, policies and frameworks can be adapted for local implementation and in inter-agency coordination at the national level. A total of 19 participants from Cambodia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand represented various government agencies and civil society groups.
The GAATW-IS presentation centred on assistance for trafficked persons. The aim of the session was to create a mutual learning space to understand the needs, identities and situations of trafficked persons from their own perspectives. After the presentation, participants engaged in a planning exercise in assisting victims and abused migrants keeping in mind the key principles of a victim-centred approach.
Participants highlighted the importance of coordinated actions between state authorities and civil society groups, the need for careful assessment of the victim’s situation, the importance of collecting information, and cooperation between countries of destination and origin.
In May GAATW-IS visited two migrant rights organisations in the Philippines - KAAGAPAY (Cotabato City) and Batis Center for Women (Manila), as part of GAATW’s participatory learning initiative.
Kaagapay works for the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of migrant Filipino workers, their families and relatives in Mindanao and in other parts of the Philippines and across the world through community-based paralegals and counsellors, educators and trainers, community-managed economic activities, and information campaigns. KAAGAPAY conducts pre-employment orientations, radio broadcasting advertisements, and School of Rights workshops for women leaders, in collaboration with women returnee organisations in different communities.
Batis Center for Women is a non-profit working to assist distressed Filipino women migrants. Batis helps facilitate their recovery and healing through peer accompaniment, case management, and providing support services like airport assistance, family mediation, counselling, temporary shelter and referral to legal and medical assistance.
Both organisations highlighted that organising amongst returnee women is crucial and is seen as part of the recovery process. They added that outreach programmes, such as pre-employment orientations, are often seen as an effective channel for information awareness and venue for legal consultations. However, it would be good to provide inputs and raise the level of awareness among communities of social issues (e.g. climate change, armed conflicts) that have a direct impact on migration patterns in their region.
GAATW-IS has been partnering with the ILO on the Work in Freedom project that focuses on the South Asia and Middle East migration corridor and aims to strengthen rights protection for women migrants into the domestic work and garment work sectors. In India, the project also focuses on women migrating within the national borders. Partners from India, colleagues from ILO-New Delhi and GAATW-IS met on 21-23 June to build a common understanding on core concepts related to women and development, women’s paid and unpaid work, women’s agency and empowerment, and decent work deficits in the context of women’s work. The aim is to understand the key areas/points of empowerment and disempowerment related to women’s mobility, organising women workers, enabling safe migration and promoting decent work and working conditions and to reflect on the learnings of Phase I and develop the analytical capacities of the outreach workers to process information needs and deliver messages that enable women to exert their agency and make informed decisions.
GAATW member Capital Humano Social Alternativo, Peru, conducted a research into the modalities and routes used by human traffickers in the Peruvian Amazon to recruit their victims and lead them to the places where they are subjected to diverse forms of exploitation.
The objective of the research was to describe and analyse these routes, defining them not only as a number of roads and transport routes that traffickers use to take their victims from point A to B, but considering also the steps by which an individual becomes a potential victim. The study covers the conditions of vulnerability in their place of origin, and how gradually they are stripped of their rights to end up in situations of exploitation. It includes the description of the actors, modus operandi and social characteristics, but also the policies directly or indirectly involved in the recruitment, transfer and exploitation of the victims. The ethnographic method used in this study is a purely qualitative approach that has taken into account various ethnic and cultural variables to analyse the problem of human trafficking in the Amazon.
The main findings of the study show that indebted people are targeted by criminals who find ways to exploit their labour. There is also lack of knowledge of the crime of human trafficking among the population that is at risk of exploitation, and lack of awareness on children’s and adolescents’ rights. There is significant impunity in the informal transit system throughout the entire route, where the Police or the Ministry of Transportation exercise almost no control. As for the prosecution and punishment, there is a lack of awareness and knowledge among the authorities, no coordination between them, and no specialised offices to fight against trafficking.
On 1 and 2 June ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action organised a regional conference ‘Protection of Victims of Trafficking – Rights-based Approach in Practice’, in partnership with International Forum of Solidarity EMMAUS, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Women’s Rights Center, Montenegro, Open Gate/La Strada, Macedonia and La Strada International in Belgrade, Serbia.
The conference aimed to present the current situation with access to justice and compensation for trafficked persons in the four Western Balkans countries and the results of the monitoring of national anti-trafficking policies and practices conducted by the partners.
One of the conclusions was that despite certain progress made and the developed systems and indicators, the countries are witnessing a decreasing number of identified victims, frequent violations of the reflection period, inadequate housing and lack of sustainable reintegration programmes. Civil society organisations are not sufficiently involved in the process of identifying trafficked persons, and when they are, it is not from the very beginning of the process, and many services are not adequately available to the victims.
Legal proceedings were pointed out as an area where the rights of trafficked persons are not sufficiently respected. People are still retraumatised by the criminal justice process, where they often have to retell their story over and over again and/or face the trafficker in court. It is very difficult for the trafficked person to obtain compensation and in the last ten years, throughout the region, only three have been awarded compensation for their suffering. There are also very few prosecutions for human trafficking and even fewer convictions.
On 24-25 June representatives from civil society, trade unions, the National Human Rights Commission, INGOs, media and the government met in Kathmandu to discuss ways to improve the protection of women migrant workers, particularly domestic workers, going abroad from Nepal. About 60 people attended the consultation which was co-organised by WOREC and GAATW-IS. The meeting included a dedicated discussion with the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) about the way forward. Recognising the fact that domestic workers still remain one of the groups whose rights are least protected and acknowledging that the Government of Nepal has taken proactive steps in the past, the participants urged the ministry to step up its efforts to protect their rights. Simultaneously, CSOs also affirmed that they are prepared to work closely with the government for speedy and efficient action.
The current EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking Human Beings ends in 2016 and in April the European Commission launched a written consultation to develop its Post-2016 Strategy. The aim was to collect information and inputs regarding the objectives of the new Strategy and the work against trafficking in human beings in the EU. The Commission invited members of the EU Civil Society Platform and the e-Platform on Human Trafficking to identify three top priorities and/or potential relevant actions that need to be addressed in the new Strategy.
Members of the LSI NGO Platform and GAATW-Europe submitted a contribution, detailing the most urgent challenges and relevant issues that need to be addressed. The three top priorities identified were:
GAATW European members met ahead of the EU Civil Society Platform on Trafficking in June in order to discuss issues of common concern, as well as common future advocacy around the new EU Strategy.
Dalila Figueiredo, president of ASBRAD, a GAATW member organisation in Brazil, participated in the Third Public Consultation on Combatting Human Trafficking on 13 May in Argentina. There she shared the recommendations from our briefing papers: ‘Towards Greater accountability - Participatory Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking Initiatives’.
The consultation was organised by the Institute for Public Policy in Human Rights of MERCOSUR (IPPDH). IPPHD is an intergovernmental body created in 2009 whose main functions are technical cooperation, research, training, and support in coordinating regional human rights policies. This Third Public Consultation sought to promote regional dialogue among social actors of the States Parties and Associates, on initiatives and policies to combat human trafficking that are being implemented and current challenges for progress, and receive contributions from the perspective of the organisations and social movements as leading actors in combatting trafficking.
The Forum for Social Participation IPPDH is a permanent and ongoing space for dialogue, reflection and consultation with civil society. Within this framework, it organises Public Consultations biannually with the participation of organisations and social movements in the region to share joint analyses, deepen relevant and timely topics, and build regional proposals.
GAATW e-bulletin is sent out to all member organisations of the Alliance as well as to many of its friends and sister NGOs worldwide.
The e-bulletin is published every three months. A Spanish version goes out to REDLAC members a few days after the English version. Sometimes additional follow-up information and/or reminders are also sent via email to member organisations.
Primarily a tool for communication between the International Secretariat and the Alliance members, the e-bulletin aims to cover a broad range of topics although trafficking-related issues remain its special focus. The bulletin does not have a rigid format; while some issues may contain news clips others may have an opinion piece or a report. We also use this e-bulletin to inform members about upcoming events and provide regular updates about the Secretariat.
2010 GAATW Advocacy Update
Access to Justice bulletins
Centring Rights -This specialised e-Bulletin offers a platform of exchange for a broad and diverse community with one common goal: centring the rights of trafficked persons in the justice process.
Visit the Access to Justice website at www.gaatw.org/atj