NYATN member Sex Workers Project joins letter to United Nations demanding the US stop criminalizing human trafficking survivors
The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations monitors state compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), one of the three human rights treaties that the US has ratified. In this fourth review of US compliance, civil society is submitting letters raising human rights concerns that are not adequately addressed in the U.S.’s self-reporting.
In a letter by the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law, the Sex Workers Project, and the Legal Aid Society, and we note that in the United States, victims of human trafficking are often “arrested, detained, and prosecuted, and then burdened with the stigma and collateral harms of having a criminal record—all for having engaged in criminal acts that they are forced into by their traffickers… The failure to take adequate steps to prevent criminalization of trafficked persons violates the U.S.’s obligations under the ICCPR.”
The Sex Workers Project will work with these partners to engage with the Human Rights Committee process over the next year, holding the US accountable and spreading the message about effective criminal justice remedies for survivors of trafficking.
After a federal judge found Filipina domestic worker Elizabeth Ballesteros’s testimony “highly credible” against a colonel in the United Arab Emirates navy at the damages hearing for default judgment in her case, Ballesteros v. Al-Ali, Judge John McConnell ordered the defendant, Col. Arif Mohamed Saaed Mohamed Al-Ali, to pay more than $1.2 million to her. In stark contrast to the assessment of the judge from the criminal action, Judge McConnell remarked that he found that Ms. Ballesteros’s allegations in her civil suit along with her testimony established “outrageous, illegal, and inhumane conduct on the part of Mr. Al-Ali.” Read more….
NYATN members represent human trafficking survivors, facilitating reunification, while feds arraign perpetrators
NYATN members represent some of the survivors of another human trafficking case that originated from Tenancingo, Mexico. The perpetrators, extradited to Brooklyn to face federal charges, are “members of familial clans in Tenancingo that prey on girls in their early teens with false promises of romance and a better life in the U.S. only to enslave them in the world’s oldest profession.” The defendant perpetrators “recruited three victims in Mexico when they were just 14 and 15 years old.”
NYATN helped facilitate the reunification of a survivor and her child, in a stirring chapter of the federal criminal case United States v. Carreto. NYATN member Sienna Baskin stated, “this ‘an example of people going above and beyond and being creative and thinking outside the box in order to make this happen. Now we need the lessons we learned in this case to be institutionalized.'”
NYATN Steering Member Suzanne Seltzer’s piece, “Are New Policies Really About Human Trafficking?” in honor of Human Rights Day on Race-Talk, examines misguided policies such as California’s Proposition 35 which purport to be anti-trafficking legislation but actually may be harmful to many of those who are are trafficked. Read more here.