Subject: Experts Say Human Trafficking On The Rise
From: Walsh, Maureen (Maureen.Walsh@mail.house.gov)
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 09:39:11 EST
>From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's "Weekday Magazine" on March 24, 2000:
East: Experts Say Human Trafficking On The Rise
By Andrew F. Tully
American law enforcement experts say one growing -- and profitable -- form
of lawlessness in Eastern Europe and the former
Soviet Union is the trafficking in women for prostitution. They testified at
a hearing in Washington that the scope of this activity
is hard to measure. But RFE/RL's Andrew F. Tully reports that one witness
called the extent of human trafficking "horrendous."
Washington, 24 March 2000 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. law enforcement experts say
trafficking in human beings -- particularly women
and children for prostitution -- is a growing problem in Eastern Europe and
the former Soviet Union.
James Weber of the Federal Bureau of Investigation says he can only estimate
the extent of the trafficking in humans, but he
notes that it is a high-profit crime.
Weber was asked about the problem during a hearing on Thursday of the U.S.
Commission on Security and Cooperation in
Europe (CSCE). The OSCE monitors European compliance with the Helsinki
Accords on human rights and intergovernmental
The CSCE chairman, Congressman Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), asked the
FBI official about a report that the price of
a female slave from the former communist region runs around $20,000.
Weber replied that that this is consistent with the amount a procurer
receives. And yet the procurer pays as little as 10 times
less for the commodity.
"For example, we recently had an investigation in the Midwest [region] of
the United States on some women who were
basically imported into the United States for purposes of prostitution. And
in that case, the procurer of these people paid
$2,000 per woman."
Smith noted that when law enforcement agencies break such prostitution
rings, it is difficult to prosecute the traffickers because
the U.S. government quickly deports the women to their homelands. As a
result, there are no witnesses against the traffickers,
and prosecutions collapse.
Weber said the best way to fight human trafficking is to allow the women to
stay in the U.S., at least temporarily. He pointed
out that they are victims, not criminals, and their testimony can help put
an end to these operations. Smith, the chairman of the
CSCE, said legislation pending before the U.S. Congress would allow the
women to stay in America -- at least long enough to
help prosecute the traffickers.
The FBI official said it is difficult to give a concrete assessment of the
scope of human trafficking in Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union. But Weber stressed that the problem in the region is
"horrendous," as he put it. He said more will be
learned through a program called the Southeast European Cooperative
Initiative, or SECI. Under SECI, the U.S. and
Southeastern European nations work together to identify and solve various
problems. Besides the U.S., the participating
countries are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece,
Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, and
Weber said the SECI headquarters will be in Romania, and that Romanian
police have been enthusiastic about cracking down
on human traffickers. Another witness was Rob Boone, a law enforcement
specialist at the U.S. State Department. He said
corruption remains a problem in Romania, but stressed that the government in
Bucharest is making major progress to fight
Boone said one way to prevent corruption among police is to pay them better
so they are less susceptible to bribes. But even
more important, he said, is to promote the rule of law in countries where
black markets have been prevalent for decades.
Another witness at the hearing was Adrian Karatnycky, the president of
Freedom House, a private agency that monitors human
rights around the world. Karatnycky said corruption may be the most
important enemy of freedom and democracy in Eastern
Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Union. Primarily, he said, it
erodes public confidence in a democratically elected
government. He said corruption promotes unethical campaign contributions
that make elected officials ignore the will of the
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Maureen T. Walsh
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
234 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-1901 tel
(202) 226-4199 fax
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