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The Justice Center News blog features our advocacy on issues affecting low-income New Yorkers today and the latest CBJC happenings.  For press releases, click here. For publications, click here.

Immigration Women & Children Project in Vienna

by CBJC Staff November 17, 2014

Suzanne Tomatore, the project director of the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Women & Children (IWC) Project, was one of only four U. S. representatives from service providers to attend  the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) October 22 & 23 meeting in Vienna, Austria, on the role of recruitment fees and recruitment agencies in trafficking in persons. Recruitment fees are often mentioned as a factor that can fuel trafficking in persons.

A group of 25 experts attended from various countries including Serbia, Mexico, The Gambia, Zambia, Uganda, and several throughout Europe. About half the group was government officials or agents, including a police chief from Germany and an immigration official from Spain, and a third of the group consisted of representatives from UN affiliated agencies that work on policy.

The meetings were informal and all participants had the opportunity to present and comment on various subtopics. UNODC has contracted with consultants from Verité and others to draft a report on recruitment and trafficking that will be ready next year.

In her presentation, Suzanne shared her first-hand experience at IWC  working with survivors of labor trafficking. She included an overview of U.S. trafficking laws on labor and foreign labor recruiting and case studies from her docket at the City Bar Justice Center. She also presented some examples of recent U.S. civil cases.

At the end of the second day, the meeting group came up with some goals to strive for in connection with these issues, including:

  • Transparency for both the recruiter, the employer and the employee
  • No identification documents should be withheld
  • Freedom to change employment
  • Access to remedy
  • Safe working conditions
  • Workers are to be timely and directly paid

Suzanne called the meeting a very valuable opportunity for shared learning and policy recommendations. “Israel, for example, has an agreement with the Thai government to recruit foreign workers and has promoted a bilateral agreement as a way to curb exploitation and fraud in labor contracting,” she said. “Overall, it was a very interesting and engaging discussion on fair labor practices and trafficking. I look forward to the final report, in particular, to help us better assist our pro bono attorneys in working on these cases.”


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