Human Trafficking Forum
April 26, 2012
Last night’s Human Rights Commission forum on human trafficking featured local immigrant rights advocates and government law enforcement agents as panelists, as well as firsthand testimony by a victim of human trafficking. The focus of the forum was on foreign-born trafficking, although Human Rights Commissioner and event facilitator Kyle Bussey stressed that Portland’s Human Trafficking Task Force also addresses domestic trafficking in its work.
Political interests and economic limitations weaken the community and law enforcement’s ability to act against trafficking, and Human Rights Commissioner and attorney Stephen Manning brought up the consequent gaps in the local response to transnational trafficking. Multnomah County Sheriff and Director of the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force Keith Bickford underscored the lack of coordination among law enforcement agents in dealing with the issue, and spoke to the need to bring this conversation with ICE and the US Attorney’s Office to the forefront.
Valentino R, a former ILG client, told the audience his story of being a victim of labor trafficking from the age of ten, and the painful and enduring physical damage that this life has caused him.
With around 900 unregistered labor camps in the state of Oregon, human trafficking is “one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world,” and the existence of this form of modern-day slavery is very real. Since guardians, fellow countrymen, law enforcement agents and politicians can all be figures that participate in the exploitation of victims of human trafficking, the issue of trust is fundamental to outreach programs; similarly, there must be reform throughout law enforcement to rein in the practice of racial profiling, which compounds the fear that trafficking victims live with.
Portland Human Rights Commission
Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans
United Nations Anti-Trafficking