There is probably no issue that is drawing as much international attention as human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking. Rightly so, this issue is capturing the world’s attention. At the IHRG we are stepping into the fray offering legal help beginning in Eastern Europe. At the same time, we will continue to work raising awareness on the issue of sex trafficking and helping different countries and states develop real laws with severe penalties, and help local prosecutors with how to secure victories in the courtroom against traffickers.
There is a tremendous need for a concerted legal effort in the area of sex trafficking. We believe the time is right to begin to press in and work together to create an arm of ministry that aggressively meets the legal needs of trafficking victims.
(While we are dealing here with sex trafficking, there is an even greater number of people who are the victims of labor trafficking. We do not intend to ignore them, but are meeting the more pressing emotional and legal needs of sex trafficking victims.)
We have begun this work in a partnership in Greece.
The most immediate area of legal need is for lawyers in Greece who are willing to help with the civil needs of the victims. Needs such as advising trafficking victims on their rights as immigrants, often illegal, and other matters that will typically follow the tragic events victims find themselves in through no fault of their own. This would include helping the victims to process the necessary paperwork to return to their homes or to rebuild their lives in the country where they now find themselves. This means helping them get new National Identity Cards, renewed Passports, etc. We have begun this work in Greece, Ukraine, and Bulgaria providing the same services for the victims without charge. After establishing work in these three countries we will expand into all of Europe, providing all of these services to victims in the country where they are rescued.
We are also working with local Parliaments and the European Parliament on the enactment of laws that create higher penalties for traffickers. These laws should also provide greater protection to the victims of trafficking. This is work that I have done in Georgia and have some level of expertise in drafting the laws and making sure the proper protections are put into place. This work would need to be done on a country by country basis as well as with the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Once we have the changes in the law at each level it is important to have a protocol in place for working with local prosecutors’ offices to make sure they know how to implement the law and how to prosecute violators under the new laws. This can be most easily done through a legal nonprofit that works attorney to attorney in training and educating. This is a service we are preparing to offer.
The IHRG and other organizations can work together to create training modules that train the various communities in each of the areas discussed above. This curriculum can be used to personally train and to train remotely through Internet access around the world.
We also need to work helping engage local churches in the battle to end human trafficking in this generation. That work coincides with the work we are already doing helping local churches with their legal needs in organizing, forming, and maintaining their corporations according to the laws of the city, state, country, and international protocols. It also involves planting churches that are extremely socially aware and engaged in their local communities fighting trafficking, and the problems that lead to trafficking such as extreme poverty and lack of parental engagement.