[Stop-traffic] News/COLOMBIA: NGO HOPES TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF IMMIGRANT SMUGGLERS.

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/COLOMBIA: NGO HOPES TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF IMMIGRANT SMUGGLERS.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@mindspring.com)
Date: Tue Oct 24 2000 - 14:20:28 EDT


9-26-00 COLOMBIA: NGO HOPES TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF IMMIGRANT SMUGGLERS.
Bogota, Sep 25, 2000 (EFE via COMTEX) - The Global Allia3/4ce Against the
Trafficking of Women (GAATW) is urging the international community not to
punish women who fall prey to international immigrant smuggling rings and
who are also often arrested by immigration authorities.
The poor treatment these women are subjected to abroad is one of the
greatest problems they face, said Elaine Pearson, the GAATW coordinator for
Human Rights.
The plight of such women, who number in the "hundreds of thousands" each
year, rarely ends with their arrests by immigration or police authorities
either during their passage through other nations or in the country of
destination, she said.
"They are often treated like criminals while they haven't done anything
wrong," said Pearson, who was in Bogota to attend the meeting on Human
Rights and the Trafficking of Persons in Latin America.
The meeting in Bogota, organized by GAATW and the private Colombian-Dutch
Hope foundation, aims to craft a regional guidebook on humanitarian
standards regarding the victims of immigrant smuggling operations.
Experts from Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, the Dominican
Republic and Thailand - where the NGO has its headquarters - have gathered
in Colombia to attend the three-day meeting.
According to Pearson, women who fall victim to smuggling rings must be
given access to the judicial systems in the country of their arrest, as
well as legal recourse against the traffickers who violate their human
rights.
The NGO has criticized national legislatures for placing emphasis on
illegal immigration by individuals and subsequent punishments instead of
focusing on the rights and needs of the victims in such cases.
Pearson recalled the case of two Colombian women arrested while entering
Thailand on their way to Japan.
The pair was sentenced to one year in prison in Bangkok, a sentence that
exemplifies the magnitude of the problem in which the victims are also
punished by legal systems.
According to Hope Foundation figures, some 50,000 Colombian women have
fallen victim to smuggling rings run by foreigners.
Ten Colombian women are tricked into leaving their country every day by
immigrant smuggling operations, the foundation said. EFE

  Agencia EFE S.A.

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