Don't join any of these group ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Shabab and Boko haram these are human traffickers

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pathway to citzenship needed to counteract human trafficking

Updated July 5, 2011 08:35:08
Several Pacific countries are on the watch list of the US State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons Report.

Tonga has been added to the list while the Federated States of Micronesia's status has been downgraded.

The report says that in many cases, women are recruited to other countries with promises of well-paying jobs and then forced into prostitution.

Wendy Doromal is a human rights advocate for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

She has advocated on behalf of victims of labour and human rights abuses including women trafficked for the sex trade.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts
Speaker:Wendy Doromal, human rights advocate, Northern Marianas
DOROMAL: It was a concern before federalisation went into a fact and that was in 2009 in November, and with federalisation we expected that labour abuses, including human trafficking would stop. But instead we've seen that they've continued under the US control.

COUTTS: Well let's look into the background a little bit more then and see if we can establish more of the detail. What do you know about it? It's mainly women I guess and the use of prostitution, where are they coming from and what do we know about the people who are doing the trafficking?

DOROMAL: Most of the trafficked victims are from the Philippines and China and other Asian countries, and they're victims usually of illegal recruitment and they're brought to work in clubs, restaurants or massage parlours with the promise of making large wages, often times they're told they'll be waiters or waitresses and then when they get there they're indentured and imprisoned falsely and then forced into prostitution. The latest trafficking report identified 71 victims in the last year.

COUTTS: Just in the CNMI?

DOROMAL: Yes only in the Commonwealth and that's in trafficking or fraud in labour contracting, and about 20 per cent of those were sex trafficking victims. It's really interesting that the week the report came out, which I believe was last week, the US Department of Justice indicted two Chinese for human smuggling. They were charged with labour contracting fraud, conspiracy, three counts of importation of aliens for prostitution, six counts of foreign labour contracting fraud and one count of aiding smuggling conspiracy and six counts of alien smuggling. And those were two Chinese, non-residents, who were apparently working with a resident there to smuggle in other Chinese.

COUTTS: Alright according to the report, besides the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, four other US insular areas were included in the State Department report on human trafficking, including Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Are they linked, are they all the same trafficking cartel if you want, or are they all separate deals, separate organisations working in human trafficking?

DOROMAL: I would say that for Guam and Commonwealth they might be linked because they're right next to each other. I mean on the island of Rota you can see in there and locate Guam, but the Virgin Islands and American Samoa and Puerto Rico, they're all insular territories of the United States. But the trafficking problems are not linked, even in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands victims may be from other countries, they might not be from Asian countries even.

COUTTS: Now you and your husband have worked to help the people who've been trafficked in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands. You've run a kind of an underground protection service. How did that work?

DOROMAL: Well that was when I lived there in the 1980s and 90s and victims of human trafficking would come to us and seek shelter and we'd shelter them and help them get a lawyer and get them off the island we lived on, the island of Rota to Saipan where there were federal officials. But what's really disappointing to us is that we worked for years and years to get the federal government to takeover the immigration and labour system, the corrupt system of the CNMI, and now that it's taken over we still see the same problems and the same corruption. And I think it's going to continue until the foreign contract workers have a pathway to citizenship, because one of the major problems is that employers know that they can take their passports and the victims have paid high recruitment fees that they have to pay off, so they're willing to put up with terrible abuses just so they can earn some money and pay off these fees. So until really people are looked at as human beings instead of as labour units or as replaceable coconuts, there needs to be strong regulations and also there needs to be smaller guest worker programs. In the CNMI in particular there's about 16-thousand alien workers who all went there illegally and they are there illegally, but they're all disenfranchised, even though they make up the majority of the private sector, they have no voice, they have no social or political rights, and the employers know this, the illegal recruiters know this and they're taken advantage of and will be taken advantage of until they are afforded some political and social rights.

COUTTS: And you on the path to that, are the federal officials listening to your pleas for this kind of status?

DOROMAL: Well I am going to be attending a hearing in a week on July 14th and submitting written testimony to that effect. So far the only response from the federal government to providing a provision for status that would give permanent residency to these legal alien workers has been a bill that is really inferior and I consider undemocratic and un-American. It would continue the disenfranchisement of the foreign workers and create a new CNMI only category, which goes against the intent of the federalisation bill, which was to align the CNMI's immigration program with the federal government's program.

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