Exposing 'human trade'

The State Department is going online to help fight the international trafficking of human beings.

U.S. State Department 1999 Country Reports for East Asia

The State Department is going online to help fight the international trafficking

of human beings.

Under a contract it expects to issue within the next few weeks to an

international education organization, State will fund a Web site to help

victims of human trade as well as the countries where it is occurring.

The site will include links useful to governments and non-govern-mental

organizations combating the trade in human beings — including migration

laws, laws on human trafficking, sources of help for victims and possibly

examples of trafficking prosecutions that resulted in convictions.

Although the site will focus on Asia and the Pacific, it will also include

human trafficking laws from other countries — essentially serving as a template

for countries wanting to adopt or strengthen such laws, said David Zwei-gel,

the senior technology adviser to State's Global Technology Corps.

Global Technology Corps (global-tech corps.org), established by State

last year to bring electronic communications to Bosnia, was directed by

the department to build a Web site that would address ways to prevent trafficking,

protect victims, reintegrate victims into society and prosecute traffickers,

Zweigel said.

The site, to be called the Trafficking of Persons Information Center,

came out of a March conference in Manila, Philippines. It is just the beginning

of an online initiative against trafficking.

"It's an interesting prototype that came out of the area meeting" in

Manila, a State official familiar with the program said, speaking on background.

"If it's successful, we'll look at replicating this around the world."

In most cases, victims of trafficking are women, who are often captured

and sold into prostitution. "It's an unfortunate thing. In certain cultures,

women are not highly respected. The same with children," Zweigel said. "If

it's a matter of the family eating or the family not eating, sometimes the

wrong decision is made."

According to State's 1999 country reports for east Asia, trafficking

in people — particularly women and children — is a problem in China, Cambodia,

Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The site will include contact information for embassies and links to

nongovernmental organizations involved in combating human trafficking, he

said.

The site may also include examples of Web-based employment ads that

are fronts for the trade, and possibly information to "educate "Johns'" — clients of prostitutes — to recognize when a woman or girl has been sold

or traded, Zweigel said.

The actual site, which is expected to be up within nine months, will

be designed and managed by the Academy for Educational Development, a Washington,

D.C.-based nonprofit organization involved in domestic and overseas programs.

State and academy officials would not discuss the Web site because the

two sides are still working out contract terms, spokesmen said.

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