Here are five recommendations by human trafficking survivors to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
As the Colorado Project, we recognize that we are working on an issue that affects a myriad of audiences (survivors, agencies, first responders, etc.). We are honored to have the chance to speak to one of the most far-reaching human rights issues of our time. That being said, we know we are not the only voice addressing this issue, both currently or historically. The following is a brief recent history of the anti-human trafficking movement from our combined perspective; we do not consider this exclusive, all-encompassing, or the viewpoint of the movement itself. If you feel like we’ve incorrectly stated something about the movement’s history, please contact us and share your thoughts. We value collective input.The anti-human trafficking movement is relatively new in comparison to other human rights-related causes. While human trafficking has been part of global history for many years, it has often been (and in some cases, still is) disguised and minimized by more sensational labels. Legally and culturally, it is easier to grasp and prosecute under different names and crimes, such as prostitution, smuggling, child abuse, etc. Furthermore, the newness of the movement explains the gap in data regarding the statistics of survivors and traffickers. It has only been since the 1990s that human trafficking surfaced as an item for discussion and protocol, eventually garnering enough attention to be handled as its own crime.In the late 1990s, the United States played a key role in drafting a trafficking protocol for the United Nations. In late 2000, the United Nations ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (known as the Palermo Protocol), which sought to establish an internationally recognized definition of human trafficking and a set of recommendations for how best to eradicate the crime within and between countries.At the federal level, the United States Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and reauthorized the law in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Federal legislation has significantly impacted prioritization of funding, service provision, and prosecution at the state-level. State-level anti-trafficking efforts have also been impacted by the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. These reports not only emphasize U.S. foreign policy on the issue, but also highlight best practices for combating the issue domestically and internationally. For domestic organizations seeking to combat the issue, the TIP reports provide important insight into government priorities, including a consistent emphasis on the 3P methodology, with a fourth “P” - partnerships - incorporated in the 2010 report. Since 2005, Colorado agencies have received federal funding to operate a statewide victim services network as well as conduct trainings and fund overtime wages for law enforcement officials. Two distinct but collaborative task forces (Bureau of Justice Assistance-funded law enforcement working group and the Office for Victims of Crime-funded Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking, a project of COVA) have been charged with responding to the needs of trafficking victims and investigating and prosecuting traffickers. Nevertheless, most efforts are concentrated in the Denver Metropolitan Area with limited resources distributed statewide. However, concerted efforts are being made to expand the geographic reach of services, awareness, and capacity to serve victims of human trafficking. Examples include (but are not limited to), the Community Needs Assessment, various outreach methods employed by the Colorado Collaborative (with leadership from Colorado Legal Services and funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement) and awareness building and trainings in Denver-metro, mountain communities and on the plains.Members of the Colorado Project Team work to draw from the experience and lessons learned of having participated in both task forces since 2005; many Project Team members were involved in anti-trafficking endeavors long before the coordinated efforts materialized in Denver. Trusting relationships have been cultivated with local stakeholders and it is the Project Team’s intention to engage these stakeholders in future phases of the project for insight into Colorado’s strengths and gaps in responding to human trafficking.
The Colorado Project to Comprehensively Combat Human Trafficking (Colorado Project) is an initiative of LCHT that aims to develop sustainable efforts to end human trafficking with the essential input of those working on the ground.