The National Summit on Human Trafficking and the state courts kicked off Thursday morning in Lower Manhattan to shine a bright light on the world’s fastest-growing criminal industry and examine the role of the nation’s state courts toward its eradication.
Hosted by New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the interactive, one-and-a half day event builds upon New York’s experience and expertise in Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, providing a national platform for discussion among state court leaders and other stakeholders to study the problem of human trafficking in all its forms, learn best practices and strategies from successful state court models, and aid in developing a court-community response to the heinous crime of trafficking.
The groundbreaking event is bringing together more than 300 judges, court administrators, prosecutors, legislators, academics and others across the U.S. It has been sponsored and planned in partnership with the State Justice Institute — which provided funding through a federal grant — the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, the National Center for State Courts, the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Women’s Bar Association and the New York State Office of Court Administration.
Representatives from 46 states, Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories are attending, including chief justices, chief state court administrators, and others who have taken a leadership role in changing the justice system’s response to human trafficking.
Participants will discuss the strengths, challenges and opportunities faced by their local state courts in responding to human trafficking; learn about the SJI-funded human trafficking and the state courts collaborative and other resources available to state courts to address human trafficking; identify short- and long-term goals for implementing a state court response; and, in hands-on workshops, develop a detailed action plan that lists goals, specific tasks and a timeline.
Along with Judge Lippman, featured speakers and panelists include New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; Cindy Hensley McCain, Arizona Human Trafficking Council co-chair; Cindy Hensley McCain; Judge Fernando Camacho, originator of the first human trafficking court in New York; and judges from California, Minnesota, Texas, Louisiana and Ohio, who will share their insights and experiences.
In addition, there will be a reception and exhibit to acquaint summit participants, pro bono legal service providers and others with New York’s New Abolitionists, a group comprising judges, lawyers, teachers, political leaders, doctors, actors, business leaders, trafficking survivors, students and others dedicated to the elimination of human trafficking via public education, legislative reform and other efforts.
“New York is thrilled to host this premier event to raise awareness about the scale of human trafficking and the integral role that state courts can play to combat this modern-day form of slavery, where victims, beginning at the youngest of ages, are exploited by a vast and evil industry,” said Judge Lippman. “Undoubtedly, the summit will serve as a catalyst, spurring more coordinated, effective court-community responses nationwide to help identify and aid victims and enable law enforcement to identify traffickers and hold them accountable.”
SJI Executive Director Jonathan Mattiello said the summit will not only showcase best practices and successful programs, but also further SJI’s efforts to ensure a national state court response to human trafficking.
“Human trafficking affects the most vulnerable members of society in countries around the globe,” said Mary C. McQueen, president of the National Center for State Courts. “The United Nations estimates that six million to eight million people are victims of this devastating crime each year — 80 percent of whom are women and 1.2 million of whom are children. Chief Judge Lippman had the foresight and commitment to bring state court leaders together to ensure that state courts provide protection and justice for the victims and proper penalties for the traffickers. This summit is going to be a turning point for how our justice system approaches this issue.”
For a copy of the summit’s agenda, visit www.nycourts.gov/ip/human-trafficking.
For more information about New York’s New Abolitionists, including a human trafficking fact sheet with relevant statistics, go to www.newyorksnewabolitionists.com.
Combatting sex trafficking
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office and Facebook will be partnering to use innovative data and analytical methods to crack down on human trafficking. Schneiderman made the announcement Thursday during his keynote address at Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s National Summit of Human Trafficking and the State Courts continuing today in Manhattan. The partnership will leverage technology to identify victims of sex trafficking in online advertisements for commercial sex and pursue the traffickers that engage in the practice of modern day slavery. The initiative will focus, in particular, on identifying child victims of sex trafficking, including those who are reported as missing.