11/29/16

Announcing the 2016 PIC Report Cards

Every semester the Center for Global Justice supports Shared Hope with the Protected Innocence Challenge (PIC).  The PIC is a 50-state survey designed to improve the laws of all 50 states as they relate to the sex trafficking of children. This semester, the Center is analyzing whether each state has vacatur laws that allow minor sex trafficking victims to have any convictions that resulted or related to their trafficking vacated rather than merely expunged.  Below is a blog post from a student staff member working on this project.  After Chelsea's post is an announcement from Shared Hope about this year's PIC report card grades.


Chelsea Mack

I am working on a project for Shared Hope for this semester.  The project is focused on searching through the statutes of each state to find a vacatur law that essentially allows human trafficking victims to clear their records of a delinquent adjudication or conviction that is related to their being trafficked.  This type of statute is important because the victims are able to have a fresh start and need not worry about a conviction following them for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, through the research that the student staff team has gathered so far, there does not appear to be many vacatur laws in place to help human trafficking victims.  Most of the vacatur laws that we are finding only allow a victim to vacate the conviction for certain acts related to trafficking, such as prostitution.  Unfortunately, this type of vacatur law turns a blind eye to the other offenses that human trafficking victims are often charged with under domestic law.  More states need to provide vacatur laws that are all-inclusive in regards to the types of acts acceptable for vacation.  It is unfair that these individuals are punished for crimes that they committed as a result of being victims to all forms of abuse.  I think that these laws can only help the victims and I hope that more legislators will begin to understand the importance of adopting this type of vacatur law.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.

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Announcing the
2016 Protected Innocence Challenge
Report Card Grades

Shared Hope's Protected Innocence Challenge is the nation's only comprehensive study of state laws on sex trafficking, providing 51 Report Cards which grade each state and DC on 6 areas of law. What is your state's grade? Find out here!

Last week, at the National Foundation of Women Legislators annual conference, Shared Hope hosted a press conference to release the 2016 Report Card Grades. You can watch the press conference here.

This Year's Report
Every state now has a law covering child sex trafficking according to the annual Protected Innocence Challenge State Report Card released by Shared Hope.
“But kids can still be prosecuted as criminals in 31 states because law has not kept up with reality – the reality is that these children are victims of sex trafficking and cannot be criminals at the same time for the same thing,” said SHI founder Linda Smith, at a press conference in Orlando, FL where the National Foundation for Women Legislators is meeting.

SHI started the annual report card—known as the Protected Innocence Challenge—six years ago, in 2011, when 26 states got Fs and 15 had Ds. This year 30 states have As and Bs.

While she commended legislators and activists for the progress they have made, “We must stop criminalizing kids for crimes committed against them!” declared Smith. “Domestic minors are #twicecondemned: first by sex buyers and the voracious commercial sex trade, then by the juvenile justice system.”

“Only when buying sex becomes very costly—meaning steep fines and jail time—will we be able to prevent this crime from happening in the first place,” Linda observed. Shared Hope research shows that a very small percentage of buyers are arrested and even fewer do time.
  

11/28/16

Shop AmazonSmile


Support us when you shop on Cyber Monday. #StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/54-1061178 and Amazon donates to Regent University's Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.

11/18/16

Giving Survivors of Sex Trafficking the Life They Deserve

The following post was written by CGJ student staff member Shannon Fields.




For the past several weeks, I have had the privilege of providing legal research for Shared Hope International, which is an organization that fights sex trafficking across the country. My job has been to research state statutes to determine whether each state has a statute that vacates a minor's conviction if it was the result of being a victim of sex trafficking.

Or, the next best scenario would be if the state has a general statute that allows one's conviction to be vacated if the individual was a victim of sex trafficking. If neither of these scenarios exist, then Shared Hope will push for such a statute to be enacted within that state.

Victims of sex trafficking are being convicted of crimes that they were forced to do. No victim of sex trafficking should have to endure the trauma of being trafficked and then be treated as a criminal for it. These statutes provide victims a way to remove the "offender" label placed on them to give them the opportunity to live a life of their choosing. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of changing the law to give victims of sex trafficking the life they deserve.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.

11/14/16

Update from Allen and Julie Anjo at YWAM Iin Kona, Hawaii

Allen Anjo is a Regent Law grad ('13).  He and his wife, Julie, are missionaries and Legal Advisors to Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a missions organization that currently works in over 1,100 locations in more than 180 countries to send volunteer missionaries around the world to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Allen and Julie hosted one of our CGJ summer interns, Mark Martinez, this past summer.  Below is an update from the Anjos:

It has been an eventful month since the birth of Hannah, and our small family is getting into a new rhythm. We thank you for your prayers, gifts, and words of encouragement.

It has been two full years since we started on this ministry, and there have been many accomplishments and projects we are excited to have worked on.
We have been working with the base on many different legal issues such as:
  • Visa and immigration
  • Student policies
  • Insurance compliance
  • Risk mitigation
  • Contract reviews and negotiations
  • International copyright and trademark issues
  • ICANN internet dispute resolutions
  • Federal and state tax compliance
  • Tort law
  • Constitutional law
We have been seeking ways to bring justice to the least of these.
  • We started the School of Advocacy, Law, and Justicethis summer and will be running our next class this coming summer.
  • We are also starting a ministry focused on Constitutional development and foundations in Biblical Law 
  • We are working with several other Christian organizations to reach out to lawyers and other professionals to help them utilize their passion and knowledge as a ministry tool.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and financial support that enables us to continue to carry out our ministry.
At this point we have not yet reached our monthly need and look forward to working together with you for the next year.
If you would like to join our ministry team, we have updated our support form which is available here
Our first family portrait!
Hannah and her cousins got to dress up for their first "Trunk or Treat". As you can see, she didn't enjoy the singing, but had a great time dressing up.
Samuel has been busy helping his Nana on the farm. He has grown up to be a helpful, young boy. He will be celebrating his 3rd birthday on November 8th.
Thank you for being part of a ministry that is using the law as a tool to reach out to those in need. It has been an eventful two years and we are looking forward to all the wonderful things God has planned.

If you would like more information on how you can be involved financially, please click here for some options.



Allen, Julie, Samuel and Hannah Anjo

11/11/16

How Does Your Community Grow?

The following blog post is written by CGJ student staff member Maria Elizabeth Cabrera.

Photo by www.groworganic.com

Hello, Everyone.

On October 27, 2016, the U.S. Department of State stated that Governments of Mexico and the United States of America released a joint statement relating to the outcome of the eighth Annual U.S.-Mexico Bilateral High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights.

Officials from Mexico and the United States took part in this dialogue dealing with the mutual interest of human rights, involving Mexico and the United States, as well as among governments from other countries. Both countries emphasized their recommitment to do their best to promote and protect human rights.

Among the topics of discussion, the Media Note addressed many issues including international migration; human rights of LGBTI persons; discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; and the care for child migrants.

Mexico and the United States desire to follow through with their commitment from the 71st session of the General Assembly in September—the quest to adopt a “global compact for a safe, ordered, and regular migration in 2018.” Summit Co-host, President Peña Nieto made clear the need for “multilateral actions and solid commitments addressing the global challenge of responding to refugee needs.”

How are communities both in Mexico and in the United States preparing?

I don’t understand President Obama’s strategy for migration of the refugees, but as someone who has lived in Guatemala, Central America, and the United States; preparation is critical for the influx of people entering our communities at the local level. That preparation includes addressing the perils of human trafficking and the threat to public health.

Interestingly enough, on August 31, 2016, The New York Times reported that the United States had admitted its 10,000th Syrian refugee. The Syrian refugees are sprinkled across the United States from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California. The New York Times also said that the refugees receive help finding work and housing. After one year, the refugees need to make it on their own.

I’ve lived overseas, and unless one becomes communicative and educated in the language and culture of the people, it’s difficult to blend in with society and be accepted. Not always, but sometimes there are unwritten barriers to overcome for a successful transition into a new way of life. These walls make one vulnerable to human trafficking when income is not generated fast enough to provide for one’s self and family.

Secondly, one of many examples of public health issues concerns the health of girls and women. In “Creating an Interdisciplinary Medical Home for Survivors of Human Trafficking,” for Obstetrics and Gynecology, authors, Drs. Melinda McNiel, Theodore Held, and Noel Busch-Armendariz discuss the importance of the health care providers possessing the expertise in identifying victims of human trafficking. I’ll take it a step further. Health care workers need training in recognizing the difference between a girl or a woman who’s suffered from sex trafficking versus domestic abuse and how are their special needs going to be addressed. The authors talk about the model of an interdisciplinary medical home created in central Texas to function as a model for health care delivery for those who have been traumatized by human trafficking and hope to encourage other healthcare providers and stakeholders to be willing to establish similar medical centers in other parts of the United States.

As the landscape of our communities changes, we should take it upon ourselves to do our independent research concerning what types of crime are committed in our particular geographic neighborhoods and where we’re spending time on the Internet. We need to keep an eagle eye on our children whether they’re in kindergarten or away at school in a different state. Human trafficking and the incident and distribution of public health dangers affect not only refugees but also all of us in our corner of the globe.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.

11/9/16

Better Together—A Global Problem Deserves a Global Response

This post was written by CGJ student staff member Debbie Stieglitz.  Read about Debbie's internship in Uganda here >




On Monday, October 31, Regent University School of Law students were treated to hearing from Evan Henck and Abishek Jebaraj about the sex trafficking and bond slavery trade in India and the efforts being done to fight back.

Evan Henck is a Regent Law graduate and worked for Freedom Firm in India for seven years.  Evan oversaw all of Freedom Firm’s investigations and rescues, aftercare of the survivors, and legal follow up, and he was integral part in each step of Freedom Firm’s mission—Rescue, Restoration and Justice.  He currently serves on Freedom Firm’s U.S. Board of Directors and is an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Grayson County.

Abishek Jebaraj is the India General Counsel at Justice Ventures International (JVI).  Abishek has spearheaded the India Southern Regions operations and served as a member of JVI’s India National Leadership Team.  Also joining Abishek was Washington and Lee professor and JVI board member David Eggert.

In India, the spread of sex trafficking and bond slavery is largely driven due to the poor economic status of the majority of the people.  It is not uncommon for a sex trafficker to show up in a remote village, make promises to a girl’s family of a job in the big city, take the girl back with him, and the reality is the girl is now being forced into sex slavery.  Another common occurrence, and even more disturbing, is that a girl’s own family will sell their own daughter to a brothel to pay off family debts.  It is these problems that Freedom Firm and Justice Ventures International are fighting to stop.

L to R: Jeffrey Brauch, Evan, Abishek, David, and Ernie Walton


Evan and Abishek, during their work to legally prosecute the traffickers and help rescue girls from brothels, discovered that by working together more work could be done.  Many times, NGOs tend to focus on one specific problem in one specific area.  But as was mentioned by Evan, “we are not trying to re-invent the wheel here.”  By joining forces in India, both groups were able to extend their reach and effect more change.

When I was in Uganda this summer, these same sex trafficking and bond slavery issues were being fought against too. What struck me when listening to Evan and Abishek is that the same tactics to “lure” young girls into being sold are the exact same tactics that are used in Africa.  Seeing how well the two organizations in India worked together and the benefits of joining forces instead of being singularly focused made me think, “Why can’t several NGOs all over the world work together to fight sex trafficking and bond slavery.”  If we are “not re-inventing the wheel” at least some of the successful tactics used in India should be able to cross over to other parts of the world.  Since sex trafficking and bonded slavery is a global issue, it is long past time we begin to work together towards a global answer.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice. 

11/3/16

Threats to Religious Freedom in Turkey



I am currently working on a Center for Global Justice project related to promoting religious freedom in Turkey.  Turkey, while a predominantly Muslim nation, is Constitutionally committed to being a secular nation.  Turkey’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, assembly, association and expression, among other rights (PDF). Turkey has also signed a number of international human rights agreements, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).  Under Turkey’s Constitution, international agreements have the “force of law” in Turkey (Article 90).  The ECHR also guarantees freedom of religion, expression, assembly and association: www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf.  Generally, freedom of religion encompasses the right to practice one’s religion both publicly and in private, alone or in a group.   

Despite Turkey’s commitment to secularism and religious freedom, both nationally and internationally, there are a number of concerns regarding religious freedom in Turkey.  Although Turkey does not have an official state religion, it exercises official state control over religion.  The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its 2016 annual report, notes some positive developments in Turkey, but states:
“No religious community, including the Sunni Muslim majority, has full legal status and all are subject to state controls that limit their rights to own and maintain places of worship, train clergy, and offer religious education. Other concerns relate to the compulsory religious education classes in public primary and secondary schools, the listing of religious affiliation on national identity cards, anti-Semitism, threats against Turkey’s small Protestant community, and denials of access to religious sites in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus….Under the Turkish interpretation of secularism, however, the state has pervasive control over religion and denies full legal status to all religious communities. This limits religious freedom for all religious groups and has been particularly detrimental to the smallest minority faiths. Official control of Islam is through the Presidency of Religious Affairs, and of all other faiths is through the General Directorate for Foundations.”  (www.uscirf.gov/reports-briefs/annual-report/2016-annual-report). 
As a minority religion in Turkey (there are fewer than 150,000 Christians in Turkey, according to USCIRF), Christians may face challenges in Turkey.  Open Doors USA reports that the Directorate General of Foundation verbally ordered a city’s church building to be vacated in 5 days.  As the only church building in a city of 2 million people, it is shared by 4 congregations.  Although the order was later rescinded, the article states, “Under Turkish law non-Muslim, significant legal hurdles face faith communities that attempt to register an officially sanctioned house of worship. Multiple congregations often share the same space due to these challenges.” (www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/tag-prayer-updates-post/turkey-rescinds-order-to-close-only-church-in-bursa/

In July of 2016, Turkey endured a failed coup attempt.  The Catholic Register reports that "More than 300 people were killed and another 2,100 injured when soldiers tried to take over the Turkish parliament in Ankara and other key institutions.”  Since the failed coup, “At least 6,000 people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of being associated with Hizmet and Gulen, those allegedly behind the coup. Close to 3,000 military personnel, 2,700 judges and thousands of teachers and university academics have been fired.”  According to BBC, the Hizmet movement is a Muslim network, inspired by Fethullah Gulen, who “promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasizes altruism, hard work and education.” (www.bbc.com/news/world-13503361)  The Catholic Register states that Hizmet “reflects Gulen’s modern take on the mystical Sufi Muslim tradition.”  

Quoting Andrew Bennett of the Cardus Christian think tank, the Catholic Register states:
“When the Turkish government starts clamping down on a particular strand of Islam, it can only further marginalize other religious minorities, including Christians, Jews and Alevis…Freedom of religion has always been tenuous for Turkish Christians and Jews, who have had their properties seized by the state.”
Quoting Intercultural Dialogue Institute executive vice president Fatih Yegul, the Catholic Register reports,
“It has always been the Sunni Muslim ideology, that’s always been the dominant thing…But with these new developments for the past three years — with the government purging and putting pressure on free media, putting pressure on freedom of expression, etc. — one interpretation of Sunni Islam is becoming more and more dominant. Which of course can be interpreted as a threat against freedom of religion.” (www.catholicregister.org/home/international/item/22820-religious-freedom-threatened-by-turkey-s-response-to-coup). 

The Voice of the Martyrs states,
“This secular republic is now ruled by an Islamic party, and some are concerned by the growing authoritarianism of the prime minister… Active Christians face hardships ranging from job loss to physical violence and even death. All religious communities are subject to state controls, which limit the right to own places of worship, train clergy and offer religious instruction.” (https://www.persecution.com/public/restrictednations.aspx?country_ID=%3d3530)
The research I’ve done so far has been educational, as I’ve been able to learn about an area of the world that, prior to beginning this project, I knew very little about.  I am hopeful that our project will be influential in helping Turkish people understand and assert their rights, particularly their rights to religious freedom. 


This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.