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Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice


In March 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that combating trafficking in persons would be a top civil rights priority for the Department of Justice.

Overall Approach: The Justice Department's anti-trafficking work reflects extensive coordination with other federal agencies, local law enforcement, victims' groups, immigrants' groups, and others to:

1)identify trafficking victims;

2)provide such victims with medical, psychological, legal and employment assistance while remaining in the United States for a period of time;

3)grant them lawful immigration status if they meet certain statutory criteria; and,

4)investigate and prosecute traffickers.


- Since January 2001, Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section - working with U.S. Attorney's Offices nationwide - has charged, convicted, or secured sentences for 92 human traffickers in 21 cases. The Criminal Section is the component of the Justice Department with lead responsibility for prosecuting human trafficking in the United States.

- In FY 2001 and 2002, the Criminal Section and U.S. Attorney's Offices initiated prosecutions of 76 traffickers three times as many as in the previous two fiscal years.

- Since January 2001 - regarding those cases involving sex trafficking and abuse the Justice Department has charged, convicted, or secured sentences for 65 traffickers in 14 cases.

- As of December 18, 2002, the Justice Department has 125 open trafficking investigations - nearly twice as many as were open in January 2001.

- The Criminal Section and U.S. Attorney's Offices have prosecuted 33 traffickers under the statutes created in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), and 19 of these traffickers sexually exploited their victims. There have been 7 cases filed using the new TVPA statutes, 5 of which involved sexual exploitation (the TVPA criminal statutes cannot be used to prosecute conduct that occurred prior to October 2000).

- The interagency Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force helps coordinate the investigation and prosecution of trafficking and other exploitive work practices. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and the Solicitor of Labor, and we have created several regional task forces.

Benefits for Trafficking Victims:

- Immigration Benefits: Trafficking victims are crime victims and are treated as such. In January 2002, the Justice Department issued a regulation enabling certain trafficking victims to live and work legally in the United States for three years while their cases are investigated and prosecuted, through the T visa program. The efforts of Civil Rights Division, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and other federal law enforcement agencies have assisted approximately 300 victims to access immigration benefits. Specifically, INS has granted 300 "continued presence" requests and received approximately 150 T-visa applications, 23 of which have resulted in T-visa grants.

- Health and Human Services Benefits: Since 2001, the Criminal Section has worked with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement to certify over 350 trafficking victims, allowing them to receive federal and state benefits and services including employment authorization, housing, and medical care.

- Voluntary Repatriation: Not all victims have chosen to remain in the United States. Criminal Section personnel have assisted in maintaining housing and victim benefits pending repatriation of witnesses in trafficking investigations. Further, Criminal Section personnel have assisted in the repatriation process itself by liaising with foreign governments and NGOs to facilitate the victim's return and to ensure that the victim is not re-trafficked.

- Financial Assistance: Occasionally, victims of trafficking require monetary assistance - either because they do not qualify for refugee benefits (i.e. because they are American citizens) or because there is a time lag between the application for benefits and the ability to access them. Financial sources for such interim assistance include emergency funds provided by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).

Grants to Nongovernmental Organizations to Assist Victims:

- $1 Million in Technical Assistance Monies to Combat Violence Against Women: The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has set aside approximately one million dollars to provide technical assistance to OVW grantees and others on trafficking in persons issues. This OVW funding will support training for law enforcement on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking and training for attorneys and advocates on the legal rights of trafficking victims. OVW will also fund a project that, through training and capacity building, aims to improve the ability of communities to serve trafficked victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

- $9.5 Million in Grants to Trafficking Victim Service Providers: In February 2003, the Office for Victims of Crime awarded twelve grants totaling more than $9.5 million to help trafficking victims. Eight of the grants will support comprehensive services to trafficking victims in a specific state or region. Three of the grants will support specialized services to trafficking victims in larger multi-state areas. These services will include:

  • emergency medical attention;
  • food and shelter;
  • vocational and English language training;
  • mental health counseling; and,
  • legal support.

The grantees will also educate local victim service providers on the needs of trafficking victims and develop training materials that can be used nationally.

The Department's International Work:

- The Criminal Division's Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) works closely with the State Department, Justice Department prosecutors and other countries to develop good trafficking laws, as well as train prosecutors, police, legislators, and judges overseas to use the laws effectively.

- Bosnia: OPDAT continues to provide assistance to the anti-trafficking organized crime task force that it helped develop in March 2002.

- Bulgaria: OPDAT's legislative reform efforts resulted in the drafting of a Bulgarian law prohibiting trafficking in persons, based on the tenets of the U.N. Protocol to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which became effective in July 2002.

- Romania: OPDAT's legislative reform and technical assistance efforts led to the drafting of Romania's anti-trafficking in persons law (passed in December 2001), and the formation of anti-trafficking task forces to improve cooperation among police, prosecutors, and citizen advocacy groups.

- OPDAT's legislative reform and technical assistance efforts in coordination with the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), were instrumental in the drafting of Romania's witness protection law, published on December 28, 2002, and came into effect at the end of January 2003.

- South Asia: In August 2002, OPDAT provided technical assistance in child trafficking and juvenile justice to investigators, prosecutors, judges, and child advocates from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. A bilateral program for India will take place on the same topic in March 2003.

Outreach and Training:

- Training Federal Prosecutors, FBI Agents, and INS Agents: In October 2002, the Criminal Section conducted the Justice Department's largest, most comprehensive anti-trafficking training for federal prosecutors and agents at a training facility in South Carolina, which 150 individuals attended. Similar training was provided for federal prosecutors and agents in December 2000, and for federal victim-witness coordinators in October 2001. The Criminal Section also provides training in human trafficking issues for FBI case agents at the FBI facility in Quantico, Virginia and is working with local police departments to provide training on investigative strategies in trafficking exploitation cases.

- Funding for Complaint Line: In March 2001, the Attorney General announced permanent funding of our Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force toll-free hotline (1-888-428-7581), and the creation of a community outreach program to work with local community groups, victims' rights organizations, immigrants' rights organizations, shelters, and other interested groups.

- Outreach to Victims and NGOs: In February 2002, the Attorney General announced the publication of two brochures on trafficking in persons - one for law enforcement officers who encounter trafficking victims and the other for NGOs to use as a reference guide to assist trafficking victims. Brochures are being distributed to victim-witness specialists, investigators and prosecutors in the field, law enforcement organizations, immigrants' groups, victims' groups, NGOs that combat domestic violence, and battered women's shelters. These brochures are also posted on several federal websites. The victims' brochure has been translated into Spanish and will soon be translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Russian.

- Quarterly Reports to Congress: In March 2003, in response to a request for such information by members of Congress, the Criminal Section anticipates issuing its first quarterly report on its anti-trafficking efforts.



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