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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Israel: Court Conviction a victory, but more needed
On May 10th the head of the largest trafficking operation in Israel, Rami Saban, received an 18-year jail sentence.  Saban and three partners are accused of having trafficked thousands of young women from Eastern Europe.  They are said to have recruited mostly from Moldova and Ukraine on the false pretenses of offering careers as cleaners.  The women were then sold to brothels based on age and appearance once they were smuggled into Israel from Egypt.  According to the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report, Israel "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so."  The Israeli government has instituted special training for police officers and has established a shelter for victims who escape, but more needs to be done.

Forced labor in the seafood industry
Sea vessels, or "motherships", that serve as deep-sea resupply stations have become sites for laundering products gathered by forced labor.  Once a squid or sardine comes aboard a mothership, it is almost impossible to know whether it was netted by paid fisherman or sea slaves.  Slavery is Thailand's deep-sea fishing trade is an open secret, recognized by the US, the UN and even within the Thai government.  In the wild-caught seafood industry, forced labor persists because out in the open sea, the "law is soft," says Bpa Ouan, a fishing syndicate chief based in Samut Sakhon, Thailand's hub for the fishing industry.  "We have to handle problems ourselves," he says.

Human Trafficking: McKenna, AG's blast Backpage.com
One of the most common things heard from law enforcement regarding human trafficking is that the trade has moved from the real world to the virtual one.  One of the easiest avenues for human trafficking is through websites that contain "adult" sections, most notoriously, Backpage.com.  Washington State Attorney, General Rob McKenna, along with 48 other attorneys general (AG) are pressuring the site to close it's adult section.   "One reason police are critical of Backpage.com is because too often the victims of prostitution are children," says Missouri AG Chris Koster.  In response, Liz McDougall, the general counsel, has promised to only cooperate with the AGs if they rescind their request to have that section discontinued. It is a request, they say, they will not obey.

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