Posts Tagged ‘domestic worker’

NYATN Testifies About Human Trafficking and Domestic Workers for NYC Council

NYATN members from Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, City Bar Justice Center, New York Asian Women’s Center, and Sex Workers Project at Urban Justice Center testified for the New York City Council on Friday, February 27, 2015 on, “Labor Trafficking in the Domestic Worker Industry – Resources for Victims in New York City (video).”

NYATN member Sex Workers Project's Crystal DeBoise (center) testifies alongside Legal Aid's Hollis Pfitsch and Catholic Migration Services's Alice Davis

NYATN member Sex Workers Project’s Crystal DeBoise (center) testifies alongside Legal Aid’s Hollis Pfitsch and Catholic Migration Services’s Alice Davis

View text of testimony of Ivy O. Suriyopas, NYATN steering member.  Suzanne Tomatore, a founder of NYATN and steering member, also provided testimony.  View full video testimony.


NYATN members Lanning & Sussman and Vandenberg on CNN’s ac360 on U.S. v. Khobragade

NYATN members Avaloy Lanning and Dana Sussman at Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program joined Martina Vandenberg on CNN’s ac360 on a segment called, “Uproar Surrounds Indian Diplomat’s Arrest.”  They describe how the case, United States v. Khobragade, is more than merely a labor dispute.  This case is one of many cases involving allegations of domestic worker complaints against their diplomat and consular employers.  See also the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s statement about the case, United States v. Khobragade.

Updates: Safe Horizon’s Dana Sussman also appeared on Good Morning America this morning on a segment called, “India Demands that U.S. Drop Case Against Diplomat.”  She stated in part that the domestic worker “worked more or less around the clock.”  See more.

The New York Times did a piece, “Fury in India over Diplomat’s Arrest in New York,” and quoted Sussman as saying, “My client is frustrated with how the media has portrayed this story and the response from the Indian government.”  Read more.

She interviewed with CBS News in a piece, “Kerry Expresses Regret over Strip Search of Arrested Indian Diplomat.”  Sussman says: “The victim in this case is not a criminal defendant but the person who was denied her wages and underpaid for her work.”  Read more.  And Sussman also appeared on CBS This Morning on December 20th in a segment called, “Protests in India Grow over U.S. Treatment of Diplomat,” saying that the domestic worker “left with essentially the clothes on her back.”  See more.

Sussman told the AP, as reported in the Washington Post piece, “Worker Abuse by Diplomats a Problem, Advocates Say,” of the prevalence of exploitation and abuse of domestic workers by diplomats.  She says, “We’ve seen it across the board, we’ve seen with country missions to the U.N., we’ve seen it with consular officials, diplomats of all levels.”  Read more.

Sussman, Vandenberg, and Ivy Suriyopas reported on the frequency of exploitation of domestic workers in diplomat and consular households in the New York Times‘s piece, “Claim Against Indian Diplomat Has Echoes of Previous Cases.”  Vandenberg says, ““These cases are the tip of the iceberg.”  Read more.

Domestic Worker Client of NYATN Member AALDEF Awarded More than $1.2 Million in Federal Court

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 Case in Which Diplomat Ordered to Pay Restitution to Domestic Worker in Amount of $24,153

NYATN members provided legal representation to a former domestic worker of a diplomat who worked more than 70 hours a week but was merely paid $1,000 per month.  Republic of Mauritius ambassador Somduth Soborun was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay full restitution to the domestic worker he trafficked in the amount of $24,153.  According to the press release from the FBI, Soborun pled guilty to one count of failing to pay the minimum wage rate.  Read more here.

NYATN Steering Member and AALDEF Staff Attorney Ivy Suriyopas in the News’s piece, “RI worker wins lawsuit against UAE officer,” addresses the default victory in Ballesteros v. Al-Ali, the civil suit that followed the criminal action, U.S. v. Al-Ali, of a domestic worker over her former employer, an Emirati colonel and former student in Rhode Island’s U.S. Naval War College.  The article quotes NYATN Steering Member and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund staff attorney Suriyopas in part: “She is able to use the system to highlight egregious abuses and violations of her human rights in open court. That is an opportunity that is denied to many other workers who are similarly situated.”  Read more here.

Advocating for the rights of domestic workers trafficked and exploited by diplomats

The City Bar Justice Center’s Suzanne Tomatore and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Ivy Suriyopas have been advocating for the rights of domestic workers who have been trafficked and exploited by diplomats.  The New York Daily News wrote in part:

“Suzanne Tomatore of the City Bar Justice Center said she has represented a dozen diplomat trafficking victims since 2002.”

“After Damayan helped maid Marichu Baoanan escape in 2006, she successfully sued her ambassador employer. Baoanan, a Filipina who says she was ‘enslaved’ in an E. 66th St. townhouse by United Nations ambassador Lauro Baja, got an undisclosed settlement in 2011.

“‘She said that she felt like she was in prison,’ said Ivy Suriyopas, of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.”

Read more….

UAE Embassy Couple Indicted for Trafficking Indonesian Mother and Daughter

Update: In a related matter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted three people, Nura Ziadeh, Rashid Ziadeh and Mannatullah Ziadeh, alleging that they recruited foreign nationals to serve as domestic workers and harboring them for commercial gain.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) is representing the mother, “S.S.” (as she is referred to in the indictment, U.S. v. Mervat Tolan and Nabil Talaat), as she cooperates with federal authorities as a witness in the criminal proceedings.  Click here for the complete press release.

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