Month: December 2010
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Presidential Proclamation–National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Our Nation was founded on the enduring principles of equality and freedom for all. As Americans, it is our solemn responsibility to honor and uphold this legacy. Yet, around the world and even within the United States, victims of modern slavery are deprived of the most basic right of freedom. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we rededicate ourselves to preventing and ending human trafficking, and we recognize all who continue to fight this serious human rights violation.
Human trafficking is a global travesty that takes many forms. Whether forced labor or sexual trafficking, child soldiering or involuntary domestic servitude, these abuses are an affront to our national conscience, and to our values as Americans and human beings. There is no one type of victim — men and women, adults and children are all vulnerable. From every corner of our Nation to every part of the globe, we must stand firm in defense of freedom and bear witness for those exploited by modern slavery.
At the start of each year, Americans commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and sent to the States for ratification on February 1, 1865. These seminal documents secured the promise of freedom for millions enslaved within our borders, and brought us closer to perfecting our Union. We also recall that, over 10 years ago, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 renewed America’s commitment to combating modern slavery domestically and internationally. With this law, America reaffirmed the fundamental promise of “forever free” enshrined within the Emancipation Proclamation.
We cannot strengthen global efforts to end modern slavery without first accepting the responsibility to prevent, identify, and aggressively combat this crime at home. No country can claim immunity from the scourge of human rights abuses, or from the responsibility to confront them. As evidence of our dedication to a universal struggle against this heinous practice, the Department of State’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2010″ included America in its rankings for the first time, measuring our efforts by the same standards to which we hold other nations. Looking ahead, we must continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases within our own borders.
Although the United States has made great strides in preventing the occurrence of modern slavery, prosecuting traffickers and dismantling their criminal networks, and protecting victims and survivors, our work is not done. We stand with those throughout the world who are working every day to end modern slavery, bring traffickers to justice, and empower survivors to reclaim their rightful freedom. This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, we can combat this crime within our borders and join with our partners around the world to end this injustice.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2011 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
Department of Justice
WASHINGTON – Maria Terechina, a national of the Russian Federation, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, for her role in a human trafficking conspiracy involving guestworkers who worked in hotels as housekeepers and laundry workers. Terechina was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $250,000 in restitution to her victims. After her release from prison, Terechina will be on federal supervised release for three years.
During her guilty plea hearing in April, Terechina admitted that she engaged in the harboring and transporting of dozens of illegal aliens from Russia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, and other Eastern European nations. The guestworkers who labored for Terechina worked in various hotels in and around Columbus. Terechina admitted that she agreed to hold some of the workers’ passports and immigration documents in order to prevent them from leaving their employment. Terechina also admitted that she defrauded the United States of approximately $185,000 in taxes.
“ The defendant participated in a scheme that created a condition of modern-day slavery, using intimidation to deprive the workers of their freedom for her own financial gain,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “ The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously prosecuting cases of human trafficking.”
Carter M. Stewart, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, stated “We will continue our efforts to stem the rising tide of involuntary servitude by bringing traffickers to justice and working to restore the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims.”
“The FBI is committed to protecting all persons, regardless of nationality, from slave trafficking. Those who profit from such activity should recognize the consequences of their actions,” said Keith L. Bennett, Special Agent in Charge of the Cincinnati Division of the FBI.
Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, IRS, Criminal Investigations, stated, “Employers who employ illegal aliens and do not withhold employment taxes are victimizing legitimate businesses by creating an unfair competitive advantage.”
The case involving Terechina is related to the case of United States v. Yaroslav Rochniak, et al., in the Western District of Pennsylvania. All six defendants in that case also have pleaded guilty.
The Terechina case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General; and the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. The case was jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Brown from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorney Ryan R. McKinstry from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Members of Soroptimist International of Sacramento (SIS) are always on the look-out for ways to help raise money for agencies that provide services to “at-risk” children and women, both locally and globally.
At this year’s Holiday Store in Loehmann’s Plaza, SIS will raise funds for Soroptimist charitable projects in the Sacramento region through the sale of See’s Candies®. Some of the projects supported by the See’s Candies profits are programs to help stop human trafficking provided by Sacramento’s My Sister’s House — a 24-hour help center for women and children impacted by domestic violence in the Central Valley’s Asian and Pacific Islander community — and assistance to foster youth through the Independent Living Program at Sacramento County.
This year, through its Holiday Store, SIS is joining with other Soroptimist Clubs in the Sierra Nevada Region by supporting the Solar Cookers Project of Jewish World Watch by gathering donations of $30 for each solar cooker provided. The project aids the women of Darfur, who have been relocated to refugee camps in Chad to escape the genocide occurring in their homeland. In order to cook dinner for their families, refugee women and girls are forced to leave the camps to search for firewood braving possible beatings, rape or worse. Each solar cooker purchased allows refugee women and girls to feed their families through using the power of the sun, so firewood is no longer needed. Additionally, the project is income-generating, providing the women with employment to put the solar cookers together and training other women and girls in camps on how to use them.
This year, SIS will team up with members of Soroptimist International of Sacramento South to operate the temporary See’s Candies store, located at 2527 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Loehmann’s Plaza (the corner of Fair Oaks Blvd. and Fulton Ave.) The store is located between the European Wax Center and the Briar Patch. The store is open December 1-24 from 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, and is staffed entirely by volunteer Soroptimist members.
About Soroptimist International of Sacramento
Soroptimist International of Sacramento (S.I.S.) was established in 1923, the fifth oldest club in the world. Currently there are almost 95,000 Soroptimists in 120 countries around the world. S.I.S. is very active in raising funds for and providing services to activities and organizations which assist “at-risk” women and children in our community and world-wide. For more information, visit http://www.soroptimistsacramento.com.
For Immediate Release
November 17, 2010 U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
California Woman Sentenced to More Than Three Years in Prison for Human Trafficking Charge
Daughter, Son-in-Law Sentenced on Immigration Charges
WASHINGTON—Fang Ping Ding was sentenced in federal court late yesterday to 37 months in prison for confiscating the passport, visa and other documents of a woman from the People’s Republic of China in order to maintain control over the victim and force her to work as an unpaid, live-in domestic servant. During the same hearing, Ding’s daughter, Wei Wei Liang, and her son-in-law, Bo Shen, were sentenced to home confinement and probationary sentences, respectively, on related immigration charges of harboring the victim, who entered and remained in the United States illegally, in their Fremont, Calif., home. The court also ordered that the defendants jointly pay the victim $83,866.61 and that Liang and Shen also forfeit $346,000 to the government.
The defendants pleaded guilty on Nov. 1, 2010. Ding admitted that she forced the victim to work without pay by physically abusing her, threatening to falsely report her to law enforcement and maintaining control of her visa and passport. Ding began recruiting the victim in China in December 2007, and eventually brought the victim to the United States in April 2008. All three defendants admitted to harboring the victim in their Fremont home until April 2009. The victim provided cooking, cleaning and child care services. Ding gave the victim’s identity documents to Liang, who kept the documents locked in a bedroom. Ding and Liang also admitted to telling the victim that she needed to remain inside the house because she was an illegal alien. The sentences were handed down by U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong in the Northern District of California.
“The defendants deprived the victim of her freedom through physical abuse and psychological intimidation for their own financial benefit,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Their conduct created a condition of modern-day slavery for the victim within the walls of their home. The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously prosecuting cases of human trafficking.”
“By being forced to work without pay for more than a year, physically abused and having her visa and passport taken from her, the victim in this case was denied a basic constitutional right that American’s take for granted – freedom,” said Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. “Not since 1865, when the Thirteenth amendment to the Constitution was ratified, has slavery been tolerated in this country. My office will continue to work diligently to uphold the laws of the United States and ensure everyone’s rights are protected.”
“No one should be forced to live in a world of isolation and servitude as this victim was, particularly in a country that prides itself on its freedoms,” said Mark Wollman, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations. “It’s a sad reflection on human greed and heartlessness, that people believe they can engage in this kind of egregious exploitation with impunity. These sentences should send a message to those who traffic in human beings that ICE Homeland Security Investigations and its federal law enforcement partners are committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”
The U.S. Attorney filed charges in a superseding information against Ding, 62, Liang, 36, and Shen, 43, all of Fremont, on May 27, 2010. Ding was charged with and pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful conduct regarding documents in furtherance of forced labor. Liang and Shen were each charged with and pleaded guilty to one count of harboring an illegal alien for purposes of private financial gain.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Huang of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney Karen Ruckert Lopez of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case with the assistance of legal assistant Jeanne Carstensen. This case was the result of a joint investigation between the FBI and ICE Homeland Security Investigations that arose from a referral by the Fremont Police Department in coordination with the San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force.
Combating human trafficking is a top priority of the Department of Justice. In each of the past two fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in partnership with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has brought record numbers of human trafficking prosecutions. Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking are encouraged to call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Anonymous calls are welcome.