Moldova and Arizona Exchange Ideas on Human Trafficking

  • 08 January, 2018
  • Monday, 13:48 PM

Contributed by Rabiul Hasan, Intern at Global Ties Arizona

The International Visitor Leadership Program, a U.S. Department of State Professional Exchange program brought a group of professionals from Moldova to Arizona with the objective to provide them with innovative law enforcement strategies, insight into interagency cooperation, and US policy initiatives in order to effectively combat trafficking in persons. The program participants included Ms. Elena Botezatu, Mr. Iurie Cater, Mr. Vladimir Mosneaga, Ms.Alina Nicolaev, and Mr.Anatolie Pitel.

The group was in the United States for 17 days, starting October 29, 2017.   The program was administered by Institute of International Education (IIE), headquartered in Washington, D.C.,  and locally administered by Global Ties Arizona. The visitors spent time in five major cities in the U.S.  On October 29, the project started with Washington D.C. tour, introducing the visitors to U.S. federalism, criminal justice system and anti-trafficking laws, federal agencies, NGOs and international cooperation involved in combating trafficking. The tour also included visiting key historic and cultural sights of Washington such as The Washington Monument, The White House, The Supreme Court, The U.S. Capitol, and Memorials for World War ll, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

An appointment with Mr.Theo Christov, Ph.D, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, gave them an overview of how U.S. government system works at Federal, State and local levels and how the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches function together.
On October 30, the U.S. Department of State and IIE team formally welcomed the group to the U.S., discussed the program objectives explaining the administrative, financial and logistical details of the program, reviewed the Washington DC tour, and offered a brief introduction of the participants.

On October 31, the group met Mr. Matthew Villeman, Hotline Supervisor at National Human Trafficking Resource Center. In the meeting, Mr. Villeman discussed how Polaris Project works to combat all forms of human trafficking. On the same day, the group also met Ms. Michelle Sicat and her colleagues who gave them a brief idea as to how U.S. Justice Department combines its Units and Task Forces with Federal, State and local law enforcement authorities, government agencies, and nongovernmental victim-service providers to combat human trafficking. On November 1, the group had appointment with Ms. Beth Merachnik, Director for the Smart Prosecution Initiative and the Victim Services Decision at Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), and Ms. Angel Tucker, Director of Communications for APA. Ms. Merachnik and Ms. Tucker discussed the effective strategies for prosecuting trafficking crimes and protecting victims of trafficking from prosecution.  Also that day, the delegates also met Neha Misra, Senior Specialist for Migration and Human Trafficking. With a distinguished career of working both in and outside of the country, Ms. Misra  discussed the Center’s domestic and international efforts to eliminate migrant worker exploitation and to build support for workers’ rights domestically and internationally.

On November 2, the group met Ms. Sharon Peyus, Unit Chief at Victim Assistance Program and Management Homeland Security Investigations U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Mr. Micheal McKeown, Chair at Blue Campaign U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The highlight of their discussion was to brief the group about the role of ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in leading U.S. investigating agencies on human smuggling and trafficking; their leadership in cooperation between ICE and civilian government agencies and nongovernmental organizations; and ICE’s investigations enforcement activities with its various agencies and offices. The group also met Ms. Anna Margolis, Moldova Desk Officer, Office of Eastern European Affairs, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and Ms. Renee Lariviere’s, Foreign Affairs Officer, both of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, to discuss how the U.S. Department of State has a vital role in monitoring and combatting trafficking in persons in partnership with foreign governments and civil society in order to develop and implement effective strategies to confront modern slavery.  They also met two International Affairs Advisors under Financial Crimes Enforcement Network from U.S. Department of the Treasury.  Ms. Theresa Forbes and Ms. Shanna price-wright briefed the visitors on the investigation and prosecution of financial components of trafficking crimes and money laundering by trafficking organizations.

November 3 brought to group to Ms. Finkelstein and her colleagues of Montgomery County, Maryland, who shared her experiences working with Maryland families to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.  Ms. Frankelstein shared Montgomery County’s innovative local laws to deter and prevent trafficking as well as interagency cooperation to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes. They also had a meeting with FBI representatives to discuss the role of FBI to investigate and prevent trafficking crimes. Their last appointment in Washington was with Nancy Rivard, founding President of Airline Ambassador International (AAI), to discuss training program to recognize and address trafficking on commercial aircraft.  

On November 5, the group moved to Atlanta, Georgia, the commercial, industrial, financial and the communication hub of the southeast. Under the themes of Investigation and Prosecution of Trafficking Research on Exploitation of Children, the group met Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Human Trafficking Unit, a state level law enforcement organization, to learn about their activities; Atlanta Police Department’s (APD) Child Exploitation Unit to discuss with the detectives about their work to investigate child exploitation crimes; U.S. Attorneys for the Northern District of Georgia to discuss the federal investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases; the Office of Georgia Attorney General to learn about how they investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases at the state level; the Honorable Georgia State Senate, Renee Unterman, who briefed them about how they draft legislation to address trafficking and develop a coalition to pass it; YouthSpark, an organization committed to ending child sex trafficking to discuss the programs to prevent trafficking; Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University, a center comprehensively  working to adequately protect child victims of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation through publications, legislation, participation in local, state, and national coalitions and initiatives related to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and providing training and technical assistance for state agencies, service providers, law enforcement, community groups and lawyers about this specific type of child abuse. Their tour to Atlanta ended with a home hospitality from an American family. 

On November 8, the delegates moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Their programs for Arizona included meeting with Arizona Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking which is working to develop a coordinated victims’ service plan and promote greater collaboration with law enforcement, state agencies and the community-at-large, to discuss the Governor’s role in policy making on trafficking; Arizona Supreme Court to focus on its role to address trafficking and human smuggling in the light of court’s strategic agenda for 2014-2019;; the Office of Attorney General Mark Brnovich to focus on his anti-human trafficking campaigns; Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s office to discuss how they investigate and prosecute trafficking in Maricopa Counties; Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research (STIR) at Arizona State University; and  Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking (ALERT) to learn about  its programs to serve victims and survivors of human trafficking by providing access to protection, empowerment, stability, comprehensive case management, advocacy and public education.

On November 12, the group moved to Tucson where they met the Tucson Police Department’s Anti- Trafficking Taskforce to discuss  law enforcement strategies to identify and arrest traffickers; The Honorable Carmen Dolny, a retired judge, who briefed them about the sentencing of those convicted of trafficking crimes; Arizona Highway Patrol officers to learn about how they recognize and intercept traffickers on the roads; and lastly, Sold No More, a non-profit religious ministry to end sex trafficking in Tucson, to discuss Sold No More’s work and partnerships with religious and secular organizations with executive director Jerry Peyton.

On November 14, the group moved to Chicago, Illinois. Under the themes of Detection and Investigation Strategies of Trafficking Law Enforcement and Prosecution of Traffickers Awareness and Education Efforts, the group’s appointments in Chicago started with Cook County Human Trafficking Taskforce (CCHTF), a multidisciplinary task force bringing law enforcement, social, and legal service agencies together to work on human trafficking cases. The group also met United States Attorney’s Office (USAO)  to discuss the role of the USAO in prosecuting human trafficking cases and its cooperation with other agencies for trials; U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement to discuss ICE’s work to detect and disrupt human trafficking crimes and operations; the American Bar Association (ABA) Task Force on Human Trafficking to discuss the training and education it provides to lawyers who work with victims of human trafficking and how it increases awareness of human trafficking among its members. Their last appointment was with Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) which works toward addressing the culture, institutions and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation through prevention, policy reform, community engagement, and legal services. Their discussion focused on an overview of CAASE’s advocacy work to end trafficking and gender-based violence along with highlighting its strategies to promote awareness of human trafficking and legislation to protect the rights of human trafficking victims.
 

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