News/Czech: Czech Police Deny Forced Prostitution To US Report

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Subject: News/Czech: Czech Police Deny Forced Prostitution To US Report
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 12:50:49 EDT


Czech Police Deny Forced Prostitution To US Report

[FBIS Transcribed Text] PRAGUE, April 7 (CTK) - Czech police and the
organisation La Strada, which helps victims of the sex trade, say they
cannot confirm recent information from the CIA that that Czech Republic is
one of the countries from which women are often taken to the USA and forced
into prostitution, Ceske slovo writes today.

"We cannot confirm truthfulness of the American information. No American
police division has turned to us about this matter," Czech Police Presidium
spokeswoman Ivana Zelenakova told the daily, adding that she believed the
CIA report was untrustworthy.

The organisation La Strada, which helps victims of illegal prostitution,
also said it was not aware of any such cases.

"We have several female clients, who come back with similar experiences,
but not one of them has come from the United States," Petra Titlbachova,
coordinator of the Czech branch of La Strada, told Ceske slovo, adding,
however, that it was possible that the Czech Republic was being used as a
transit country for women from the east.

The CIA report says that the Czech Republic along with Russia, Thailand,
China, Mexico and Vietnam, are countries from which people are most
frequently smuggled to the United States and forced into prostitution or
otherwise exploited. According to the New York Times, the report was
drawn up last November based on information provided by government
officials, lawyers, victims and experts in the United States and other
countries as well as investigation files and other documents.

International Organisation for Migration Prague branch director Barbora
Simerova, who works on a U.S. government-funded project to prevent forced
prostitution in the Czech Republic, told Ceske slovo that she had no reason
to suspect that women from the Czech Republic were being forced into
prostitution in America.

"No one has requested assistance from us in these cases," Simerova said,
adding, however, that this might be because until recently U.S. authorities
viewed women forced into prostitution as illegal workers and not as victims
of procurers.

The last time Czech procurers were mentioned in the American press was in
March of 1998, when in raids of bars in Manhattan, police arrested Czech
members of a gang smuggling women to New York from the Czech Republic.

The U.S. Embassy in Prague has already warned several times about the
danger of blackmail of Czechs working in the United States. It has, for
example, spoken about incidents in which illegal foreign workers in the
United States want to leave their jobs, but are forced to stay when
employers threaten to turn them in to immigration officials
Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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