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By CT117-pressguna|Email the author|Jul 08,2013   (2401 views)
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Introduction
Slavery was a socially accepted and promoted practice in Greek and Roman antiquity and in Eastern empires. The modern practice of human trafficking is another iteration in the history of the international slave trade. An intricate global network connected traders in Africa to merchants in emerging European countries, as well as buyers in the Americas. Warring states enslaved surviving opponents and kidnapped people from other states to provide bodies for slavery. Trade expanded when Portugal and other European powers built large fleets capable of sailing to Africa and trading with merchants involved in the Arab and African slave trades. Spanish explorers imported West Africans to the Americas, establishing a practice that lasted for over three centuries. Historians estimate that 11 million slaves were transported from Africa to the Americas, and over one million died from violence, smallpox and other fatal diseases during the tumultuous journey across the Atlantic known as the Middle Passage. An estimated total of 25 million Africans were removed from the continent and sold into slavery.

Many African kingdoms also practiced local forms of servitude, and self-interested African merchants and rulers sold humans to European merchants before demand from slave labor reached the point that European powers conducted slave raids. Colonialism buttressed by a racial ideology that touted the superiority of Europeans to Africans and other non-white races grew concomitantly with the burgeoning slave trade. Empires and kingdoms required free labor to expand and maintain their global presence, and improved maritime and navigational skills buttressed their expansion. The historical human mass displacement has resulted in global diasporas serving as remnants of a once powerful institution.

Abolishing Slavery
Harnessing the momentum of the Enlightenment and revolutions, Western European powers began formally abolishing slavery within their empires. Despite exploiting the slave trade for two centuries, Great Britain eventually heralded a strong anti-slavery tradition that included the formation of abolitionist societies and multiple efforts to push legislation through Parliament to ban slavery outright. Late eighteenth and early nineteenth century efforts to ban the slave trade faced stiff resistance from the East India Tea Company, merchants, plantation owners in the Americas and throughout the empire. By 1807, the Slave Trade Act banned the slave trade within the British Empire and the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act, coinciding with a slave rebellion in Jamaica, emancipated slaves through the empire. Parliamentary acts resulted from social and moral campaigning and through pressure by abolitionist MPs, Quakers and women. Britain combated the slave trade by crafting treaties first with individual European countries and then African and South American countries, bolstering its efforts by creating an Anti-Slavery Squadron and influencing countries to ban slavery.

Following the French Revolution, France banned slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte swiftly reinstated it in order to support an expanding empire. Canadian colonies and smaller European kingdoms also abolished slavery in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Slavery in the US
Although many important political figures in the early US owned slaves, some of the founding fathers expressed uneasiness regarding the `peculiar institution` of slavery. The slavery issue predated the formation of the nascent US, as the British Royal Army offered slaves freedom during the Revolutionary War if they fought against the colonists. Thomas Jefferson had authored a passage in the Declaration of Independence condemning slavery in the future country, but delegates from South Carolina and Virginia obstructed its approval. The Northern colonies, such as New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, instituted a gradual process of abolition in the late eighteenth century that began with the liberation of slave children and culminated with full emancipation. Their legislative efforts to eliminate slavery contrasted with the strengthening of the practice in southern states and western territories that became candidates for statehood. President Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807, deeming trade as piracy punishable by death. This act referenced Article I of the US Constitution, which guaranteed that the slave trade would be protected for twenty years.

The concept of manifest destiny encapsulated a slavery versus anti-slavery dichotomy that divided established northern and southern states over which new states could legally practice slavery. Kansas [PDF] held a popular vote to decide the issue, and slaveholders from nearby states rode into the state to cast ballots in favor of slavery, resulting in Kansas being admitted as a slave state. Congress enacted the Missouri Compromise of 1820 in an attempt to resolve in which newly settled territories slavery could be practiced. The Compromise balanced the number of slave and non-slave states by admitting Missouri as a slave state, Maine as a non-slave state and prohibiting slavery in the Louisiana Purchase territory north of the parallel 36430` north, except for Missouri. The number of pro-slavery and anti-slavery states bore importance to representation in Congress, as an imbalanced ratio stoked fears on both sides. The compromise illustrated the precarious balancing act of the political consensus leading up to the Civil War. The consensus as encompassed in the Missouri Compromise withered through the Dred Scott decision, formation of anti-slavery political factions and the abolitionist movement, leading to the secession of 11 states to form the Confederacy followed by the bloodiest war in American history. The Civil War lasted from 1861 until 1865, devastated portions of the country and resulted in the Civil War Amendments. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship for freed slaves and the Fifteenth Amendment ensured voting rights for all male citizens.

Human Trafficking in the US
Even since human slavery was officially banned through the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, human trafficking continues to present an ongoing problem in the US and abroad. The US State Department reports [PDF] that between two to four million individuals are trafficked worldwide annually, with at least 17,500 of these individuals trafficked within the US. Other organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services, report far higher numbers, some as high as 12.5 to 27 million, with trafficking in the US reported in the hundreds of thousands. Organizations focused on ending child trafficking claim that there are as many as 300,000 children in the US at risk of commercial sexual exploitation, with most of them being US citizens.

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics classifies reported cases of human trafficking into two broad categories: labor and commercial sex. In the 2013 annual Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department stated [PDF] that trafficked individuals in the US can be found in areas as diverse as farms, the hospitality industry, restaurants, brothels, pornography studios and massage parlors. According to that same report, the most prominent nation of origin for trafficked individuals in the US in 2012 was the US, followed by Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Honduras, Indonesia and Guatemala.

Today, efforts to address and combat these issues in the US are being pursued mostly by the Executive Branch, under order of Congress, as well as through a variety of non-profit organizations in the private sector. Private sector organizations have undertaken the largest portion of efforts, including international lobbying and policy-based efforts by groups like Catholic Relief Services and MercyCorps, as well as smaller, more individual localized efforts by organizations in a variety of cities around the country.

Several states have also enacted legislation to combat state-based human trafficking concerns. Lawmakers in Texas identified Houston as a key port in the sex and labor trade; thus, Texas has played a major role in creating a state-based initiative to fight human trafficking. These efforts have included increased funding for law enforcement personnel focused on monitoring and finding individuals involved in trafficking, as well as enlisting the help of locals through education and outreach.

Legislative Branch
The federal government`s efforts to combat human trafficking stem from one major piece of legislation, as well as four reauthorized versions. The original legislation, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 [PDF], was passed in 2000, followed by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Acts of 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013 (TVPRA). The legislation authorizes the US State Department and White House to work on educational, prevention and enforcement efforts surrounding human trafficking, as well as providing most of the funding for these efforts.

Congress has also addressed human trafficking in areas of immigration reform. Under the above stated law, individuals who are found to be victims of human trafficking, especially children, are granted certain immunities and permitted to pursue services and citizenship.

Executive Branch
The Obama administration has continued all of the programs enacted under the Bush and Clinton administrations to combat human trafficking, as well as bulked up some other efforts. Most recently, in April 2013, the White House held the Forum to Combat Human Trafficking. This one day forum brought together the various executive departments engaged in efforts to end human trafficking in an effort to highlight current efforts and draw public support and involvement.

On September 25, 2012, President Obama delivered a speech on the need to strengthen the fight against trafficking as part of the Clinton Global Initiative and signed an executive order strengthening the federal government`s zero-tolerance policy against contracting with organizations involved in any way with human trafficking.

Despite the reported accomplishments, not all efforts by the federal government to combat human trafficking have been successful. In July 2012, a federal judge dismissed the largest case ever by the DOJ involving human trafficking after a grand jury had indicted six businessmen accused of enticing hundreds of Thai nationals to come to the US with promises of jobs and then forcing them to work on farms in Washington and Hawaii. The judge dismissed the case due to the DOJ`s inability to prove the allegations.

Other departments housed in the Executive Branch also work in various capacities to fight human trafficking. The FBI lists human trafficking as a top investigative priority in the Bureau`s civil rights program. In 2012, they opened 306 adult trafficking cases and 363 child trafficking cases. The State Department oversees the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the single largest governmental effort to combat trafficking and explicitly created by the TVPRA. The office collaborates with various international and domestic agencies in order to track and find those engaged in human trafficking.

International Efforts
Human trafficking occurs across the globe, but the UN International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that it is more prevalent in regions of conflict. Women and children are more likely to become victims, and on August 30, 2005, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that human trafficking was on the rise.

To combat human trafficking, the UN has brokered several agreements attempting to curb the practice. On November 1, 2011, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees agreed to pool resources to better combat human trafficking. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime later partnered with the International Organization for Migration and pledged to reduce migrant smuggling.

Thailand is a primary source for labor trafficking victims as well as a hub through which victims from all over the globe are transported. In August 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on human trafficking applauded a Thai anti-trafficking law passed in January 2008, as well as cautioned the country that additional measures must be instituted.

The ILO has estimated that over 21 million people are subject to forced labor. The organization has increasingly called on Asian and Latin American countries, two main sources for such human trafficking, to enact anti-trafficking legislation and support enforcement of those laws.

Child Trafficking
Following the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004, the Indonesian government placed restrictions on the international transport of minors and required guards at refugee camps in an effort to thwart potential child trafficking. The UN and the Indonesian government jointly established child registration checkpoints as a way to prevent child trafficking. The Sri Lankan government, also in an attempt to reduce instances of child trafficking following the tsunami, placed a temporary hold on a child adoptions.

In regions where the potential for child trafficking is particularly high, countries can be spurred to action following the requests of other world leaders. When the US State Department threatened sanctions against Togo due to its lack of concern regarding child trafficking, the Togolese government passed a law in August 2005 increasing prison time and fines for those convicted of the practice.

Organ Trafficking
Following allegations of organ trafficking by international human rights groups, China passed a law banning the sale of human organs in May 2007. In Europe, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Kosovo and Albania to open investigations to determine the veracity of claims that the Kosovo Liberation Army trafficked in organs harvested from Serbian prisoners taken during 1998-1999 Kosovo war. While the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe launched an investigation into the organ trafficking allegations in June 2008, Albania refused to initiate its own investigation. In February 2011, the UN Special Representative to Kosovo called for an independent investigation into Kosovan organ trafficking allegations to be spearheaded by the UN Security Council.

Sex Trafficking
Noting the changing forms of slavery, including the rise in global sex trafficking, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon insisted, in March 2010, that countries renew their commitment to combat the practice. The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) heard testimony in April 2008 from a woman stating that the Niger government failed to enforce a May 2003 law criminalizing slavery. The woman, Hadijatou Mani Koraou, had been sold into slavery as a child and then forced to remain her master`s wife even after he granted her freedom. In October 2008, the court found the Niger government liable a ruling binding for all ECOWAS member states and ordered restitution equivalent to approximately USD $20,000.

In an attempt at transparency and regulation, Hungary began licensing sex workers in September 2007. Critics argued that such licensing violated an UN human trafficking treaty from 1950. Convicted and sentenced by the War Crimes Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2009, a former Serbian military leader was found guilty of multiple atrocities, including sexual slavery and rape. In January 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that countries complicit in sex trafficking violate Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which forbids slavery and forced labor.

Courtesy : Arjun Mishra, Kyle Webster and Sarah Steers - jurist.org
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