NYATN members Ivy Suriyopas, director of AALDEF‘s Anti-Trafficking Initiative, Lynly Egyes, staff attorney at the Sex Workers Project at Urban Justice Center, and Tauno Bilstead, intensive case manager at Safe Horizon‘s Anti-Trafficking Program, will speak at a forum on trafficking of Asian women in Queens on May Day. For additional details….
Forum on Trafficking of Asian Women
Queens Pride House
May 1, 7-9 pm
NYATN Member Florrie Burke Receives Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons
Update: See the transcript and video of the medal ceremony, starting at the 7:00 mark.
Bringing together leaders from government, the private sector, advocates, survivors, faith leaders, law enforcement and academics, the White House Forum on Human Trafficking was held on April 9th. Valerie Jarrett, Advisor to the President, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of State John Kerry (video) gave remarks that outlined the efforts of the Obama administration has made, including the developments since President Obama outlined specific commitments at the Clinton Global Initiative in September. At that meeting, President Obama said, “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it-in partnership with you.” The President called on everyone to increase his or her efforts to end the scourge of modern slavery. In particular, he directed his Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to look at new and strengthened initiatives. The White House Forum described many of these including the release of the first-ever federal strategic action plan, increased innovations in technology, new partnerships with business and recommendations from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As Attorney General Holder said, “Over the next five years, the strategic action plan will enable us to reinforce our relationships with nongovernmental allies-and build public-private partnerships. It will lead us to develop innovative new strategies for identifying, assisting and seeking justice on behalf of those trapped in some form of slavery, bonded labor or forced prostitution.”
The strategic plan will increase support for legal and service providers. This is key, as we in the NGO world know that supporting survivors is paramount as long as this crime continues. Technology, the criminal justice system, and supply chain issues are all important as means of preventing, prosecuting and ending human trafficking, but cannot exist in a vacuum and must have survivors and their rights at the center.
A highlight of the Forum was the presentation of the first Presidential Awards for extraordinary efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Two awards were presented by Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Policy Council and Ambassador Luis CdeBaca of the Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking of the Department of State. The first award was presented to Florrie Burke, Chair Emeritus of Freedom Network and New York Anti-Trafficking Network member “for her sustained dedication and unparalleled leadership in combating modern slavery through the development and delivery of comprehensive services, the empowerment of survivors to move from slavery to independence, and the transformation of policy to eradicate all forms of human trafficking.” The second was presented to Carlson Company “for its demonstrated commitment and corporate leadership in combating modern slavery through the adoption and promotion of business practices that seek to protect victims of human trafficking, and the development of proactive measures to train employees and encourage its partners and the broader business community to take a stand against human trafficking.” Secretary of State, John Kerry, said of the award, “With this Presidential Award, we honor those who have played an extraordinary role in advancing our common cause. They have been pioneers in this effort-from developing the 3P approach of prevention, protection, and prosecution in the earliest days of the movement, to championing innovations in corporate social responsibility that will help carry this work forward for years to come. This award pays tribute to their leadership and commitment.”
NYATN‘s Avaloy Lanning, senior director of Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program, and Ivy Suriyopas, director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative, were in The U.S. News and World Report‘s “Modern Slavery Emerging from the Shadows,” by Kira Zalan. It addresses how enforcement of immigration laws could be making human trafficking tougher to detect.
Says Lanning: “The trafficker uses [work-related visas] against [workers], [saying], if you run then you’re going to be illegal, then immigration is going to pick you up, arrest you and deport you.”
Says Suriyopas: “”Immigrant victims are not going to come forward if they fear that the NYPD or the LAPD are not going to come help them but might label them a criminal first and ask questions later.”