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UN Special Rapporteur at City Bar Justice Center

UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Comes to NYC

by Lorena Ramirez December 15, 2016

On Friday, December 9th, the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Women & Children Project, a longtime provider of legal services to survivors of human trafficking, hosted a meeting for the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Hon. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the efforts and challenges in the fight against trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in the U.S.

At the meeting, Ms. Giammarinaro mentioned that there is a problematic and narrow interpretation of trafficking, hinting at the lack of conversation surrounding labor trafficking. “Sexual exploitation should continue to be the number one priority,” said Giammarinaro. “But labor trafficking should have equal attention and be prioritized.” Suzanne Tomatore, Director of the Immigrant Women & Children Project, pointed out that one of the problems in the U.S. is that “different states in the U.S. have different procedures on accessing a public defender in state criminal courts and some courts have very high fees to that are required to dispose of criminal charges, including those that are directly as a result of being trafficked.”

About 30 people attended the meeting, each with something to say about human trafficking, including Lynly Egyes, Legal Director at the Sex Worker’s Project, who said, “Anti-trafficking is anti-poverty work.” Others in attendance included anti-trafficking advocates from the New York Asian Women’s Center, The Legal Aid Society, U.S. Human Rights Network, Covenant House, as well as students from CUNY School of Law and Duke Law School and survivors from around the country.

New York City, one of the four cities chosen to host the UN Special Rapporteur during her trip to the U.S., was the second leg of the trip. Giammarinaro also visited Washington D.C. and is expected to visit San Francisco and Houston.

With the information that the UN Special Rapporteur will collect from all four cities, she will assess the best practices to combat human trafficking in the U.S. and share that with the international community. In addition, Giammarinaro will identify areas at risks and alternative responses to human trafficking. This report is expected to be presented at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2017.

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