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Conference Report

A majority of the speakers developed and successfully utilized PowerPoint presentations.  The name, field specialty of each panelist and a copy of the slides used in their presentation, when available, are included in the attached agenda.

The first panel presented a general survey of the trafficking situation in Latin America, focusing primarily on Central America and the Dominican Republic.  Some of these initiatives were adopted by the Inter-American Commission of Women and by the General Assembly of the OAS.  A research study was completed in nine countries: Belize, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic.  The findings of the study demonstrate the severity of the disturbing reality of trafficking, both internal and international, from and through Central America.  Corruption, poverty, gender inequality, social violence and sexual abuse are some of the factors that contribute to fertile trafficking grounds.  An alarming increase in sex tourism, and the profits it produces, has added incentives to traffickers.  In addition, there is a lack of appropriate legislation; there are no systems to detect and report trafficking cases, no regional cooperation to investigate traffickers and no system for protecting victims.  The sexual exploitation of women and children remains the most painful and visible evidence of how prolific trafficking has become.

The study recommended the implementation of concrete measures at both the national and regional level.  Based on its results, the General Assembly of the OAS adopted a resolution on June 10, 2003, “Fighting the Crime of Trafficking in Persons, especially Women, Adolescents and Children,” urging the member states “to enhance their legal, judicial and administrative systems, and to consider the establishment, where appropriate, of a national coordination mechanism to prevent and combat the crime of trafficking in persons and to protect the victims.”

A representative from the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons division presented a basic overview of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the methodology of the 3 tier placement system.  The U.S. Congress adopted  minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, under which foreign governments are categorized.  Placement is dependent on compliance or non-compliance and whether it is apparent that the foreign government is making significant strides in stemming trafficking.  It is possible that governments placed in tier 3 will be subject to economic sanctions if reform does not begin by the end of 2003.

The Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins University Protection Project expanded on deficiencies in current anti-trafficking legislation.  He argued that trafficking was too complicated a legal issue to be included in contemporary penal codes.  Instead, trafficking statutes should constitute a special, separate body of law enacted to protect women and children.  His proposed model anti-trafficking statute contained the following legal elements:


A crime control approach


The inclusion of all forms of trafficking: forced labor, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and the involuntary removal of body organs


Notice of trafficking as a serious or grave crime

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