Conference to look at human trafficking
Published: March 15, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Front-line responders throughout the territory will get a better perspective on a growing problem that has shocked people around the world at the Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking conference being hosted by the V.I. Justice Department next week on St. Thomas.
Monica Carbon, counsel to V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer, said the conference will feature a number of topics associated with possible trafficking of people for the uses of sex or labor in the territory.
"At this point, we do not know that there are these activities in the territories, but we want to look at the signs, get information from those who know and broaden our knowledge on the topic, because it certainly is very possible," Carbon said.
The three-day conference will take place March 20 through 22 at the University of the Virgin Islands Administrative Conference Room on the St. Thomas campus and will be video conference to the UVI Great Hall on St. Croix.
The idea for the conference arose last year when Frazer attended the National Association of Attorney Generals, according to Carbon. Frazer realized how deep-seeded those criminal activities are and the potential that exists in organizing those types of illegal activities in the territory through any of its ports, Carbon said.
"We don't know if it is happening here, but we do need the education," she said. "We may see situations and classify them as something else, because it looks like domestic violence or neglect on the surface, but it is really an issue of sex or human trafficking.
At the meeting, Frazer heard a presentation by guest speaker Theresa Flores, a former victim of sex trafficking, who gave a powerful speech and has a wealth of knowledge she can share, according to Carbon.
Flores will be a speaker at next week's conference as well.
Flores was a 15-year-old living in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham when she was held captive in a nightmarish sex slave operation for two years. Once she escaped trafficking, she pursued higher education.
Flores was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General's Commission on the study of human trafficking in 2009, and has testified before Ohio's House and Senate in support of legislation to stop human trafficking. Her efforts played a major role in the success of laws against trafficking in 2010, according to Carbon.
The primary objective of the conference is to educate the first-responders, victim advocates, police and others in the community who could find themselves in contact with victims, Carbon said.
"We want to educate them about this underground movement, how to identify possible situations," she said. "Ultimately, the key players in this are hoping to develop some type of procedures to address the issues that would present themselves if we were to have a situation of sex trafficking or human trafficking here in the territory."
The Department of Homeland Security will partner with the V.I. Attorney General's Office to pull agencies together to form a task force, according to Carbon.
Carbon said the U.S. Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime has provided funding for the consultants and other presenters for the conference. In addition to Flores' story, additional discussions will be led by other professionals who will discuss legal remedies, coordinating victim-centered response and how to build a successful prosecution, among other topics.
"We are hoping that after the conference this is not the end of it," Carbon said. "We really hope that we will be able to forge ongoing partnerships on how to identify, make referrals, investigate and prosecute crimes involving human trafficking.
For more information or to reserve a space at the conference, contact Carbon at 774-5666 ext. 102.
- Contact Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.