In April 2004, the Clinic and the Human Rights Center convened a conference of international anti-trafficking experts to strengthen protections for Mexican victims of human trafficking. Clinic research on forced labor in the United States indicates that hundreds and possibly thousands of Mexican men, women, and children are trafficked into this country each year and forced to work in brothels, agriculture, and sweatshops as modern day slaves. Yet even when victims manage to escape or are rescued, their ordeal is not over. Family members of survivors who prosecute their perpetrators have been intimidated or attacked in home countries. Fear of reprisal against family members in the survivors’ home country once perpetrators are released from prison in the United States is an on-going concern to survivors and delays their rehabilitation. Similarly, fear that law enforcement will be unable to protect them or their families discourages many victims from assisting in prosecution of their traffickers.
Participants in the conference, “Safety After Slavery: Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking,” met to develop a transnational model for protection of Mexican trafficking survivors and their families and to identify a research agenda to generate and implement policy in this area. Clinic interns Noura Erakat ’05, Andrea Fitanides ’05, and Katie Glynn ’05 presented their paper, Transnational Frameworks for Prosecuting Traffickers and Protecting Survivors. The paper sets forth the legal framework for transnational prosecutions of Mexican traffickers, protection measures available to survivors in Mexico and the United States , as well as international models for protecting victim of this illicit trade. Conference participants included officials from the Mexican and U.S. governments, service providers and human rights advocates in both countries, and trafficking survivors. The Clinic will continue its work on victim protection during the 2004-05 academic year.
The Conference was supported by the Ford Foundation, Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, Townsend Center for the Humanities, War Crimes Documentation Center, and the Wang Family Foundation.