ASU playing role in battle against human trafficking

TEMPE, AZ - Arizona State University is playing a role in the fight against human trafficking by hosting an international conference, and Valley residents are encouraged to attend.

“The exploitative practices that define trafficking are not new, but the recognition of the severity of the problem and creation of mechanisms to address the problem are relatively new,” said ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law professor Daniel Rothenberg.

Rothenberg is the Executive Director for the Center for Law and Global Affairs, which is hosting an interdisciplinary conference Friday on human trafficking.

Rothenburg told me many countries have adopted new laws just in the past 10 years.

Take the Philippines, where according to Sheila Besario, “we just passed our law in 2003.”

Besario, who practices law in the Philippines, said cyber-based sex trafficking has become a big problem, referring to it as “rampant”.

“You have Filipino girls on the other side of the camera and you have foreign buyers buying their services so to speak.”

She said they have now made trafficking a crime they can prosecute, but there’s still a glitch; not every country has the same legal definition or the same laws, so busting the suspects to help stop demand for sex exploitation is difficult.

“So yes, we shut down the operation in the city, but how can we go after the people who actually buy their services? When the perpetrator is outside the country we don't have jurisdiction over that person so it is difficult to prove, even catch, the person if he's outside the Philippines, so therefore there needs to be coordination between the Philippines and the other countries.”

And that’s why she’s in Tempe, along with others from around the world to attend a first-of-its kind human trafficking conference at ASU’s College of Law .

Rothenberg said the primary goal of the conference is to “ask questions and engage debate about the need for integration between the international, federal, state, and local levels of law and practice.”

The conference is open to the public.

“Combating human trafficking: how coordinating international, federal, and sate law can prevent and punish exploitation while protecting victims” is being held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in the Great Hall of Armstrong Hall.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “human trafficking” and “human smuggling” are not interchangeable terms.

Smuggling is transportation-based, while trafficking is exploitation-based.

ICE defines human smuggling as the importation of people into the U.S. involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal immigrants into the U.S., as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States.

By contrast, victims of human trafficking can be U.S. citizens. No movement is necessary for trafficking to exist. It is a form of modern-day slavery. ICE also states that for trafficking to exist there must be “force, fraud or coercion”. An example of “fraud” would be someone being promised a certain job, but they arrive being sold into sex slavery or labor slavery.

ICE defines human trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

ICE defines sex trafficking as a form of human trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to person such act has not attained 18 years of age.

I attended a conference hosted by the FBI and ICE about human trafficking several months ago. During that lecture they taught us how to spot human trafficking in your neighborhood.

Here are some of the “outside indicators”:

-Victims live on or near premises
-Barbed wire or fencing that facing inward to prevent people from leaving as opposed to preventing intruders
-Bars on windows
-Locks on exterior doors
-Security cameras at the front and/or back door that face toward the home or building instead of away
-Bouncers, guards, guard dogs

Here are some of the “inside indicators”:

-No cell phones allowed
-No phones
-Video cameras
-Signs of restraints (handcuffs, rope, chains)

For a conference schedule and list of speakers, and to register, visit .

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