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Sometimes we are fortunate enough that our “jobs” lead us to opportunities to meet good people who are doing good things and who welcome us as an ally and asset.
I had this experience two weeks ago in Atlanta, where I attended a conference hosted by Delta Airlines and sponsored by gBCAT, an organization which fights human trafficking. I’m not a novice in this world, but I am still learning. Human Trafficking is a serious problem worldwide, including in the United States.
gBCAT is the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gbcat.org). The conference included representatives from Delta, Coca-Cola, Hilton Hotels, Carlson Hotels and individuals such as Laurel G. Bellows, the immediate past president of the American Bar Association, and others who have taken affirmative steps to fight human trafficking and who are interested in doing more and helping others do more.
How did I get interested in this? I managed a project for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in which we repatriated and compensated boys who had been trafficked out of their home countries into the UAE to be camel jockeys. Some of the boys were as young as two and three years old. I can tell you more about that project and how the UAE asked me to set up tribunals in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mauritania and Sudan at another time. My focus today is awareness and recognition of the problem.
Human trafficking is an ‘unseen crime.’ According to Gillian Rivers, who presented a showcase on human trafficking at the 2013 IBA Annual Conference in Boston, “There are figures where people [who have been trafficked] are known to the authorities but there are hundreds of thousands who are trafficked that are not known to the authorities – it’s carried out in our own backyards, but because of the hidden nature, it’s difficult to get figures.”
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, labor or sex trafficking were reported in all 50 states in 2012, and as of February 2013, all 50 U.S. States had enacted anti-trafficking legislation.
People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries and exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy. According to the International Labour Office, human trafficking generates $31.6 billion annually, while an estimated 20.9 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time.
In response to these startling statistics, federal and state legislatures have passed laws to promote the identification of and assistance to victims, and to support the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking perpetrators. In 2012, 49,570 victims of human trafficking victims around the world were identified. Of those cases, there were only 7,705 trafficking prosecutions and only 4,746 successful convictions.
Obviously, there is much to be done on the investigative, prosecutorial and recovery sides of this horrible problem. Because of my background as a former federal prosecutor, it is often assumed that my interest is in the investigative and prosecutorial sides. Of course, I am interested in helping there. But my primary interest is to work on projects that help the victims once they are rescued.
If you want to help or need information please let me know.
Bart M. Schwartz is the chairman of Guidepost Solutions LLC, a global leader in investigations, due diligence, security and technology consulting, immigration and cross-border consulting, and monitoring and compliance solutions.