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Taking Action in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

In commemoration of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Women and Children Project, in collaboration with Pfizer Legal Alliance, hosted “Take Action: Stop Human Trafficking Now,” a panel discussion at the New York City Bar Association on January 14th.

A recurring theme during the panel discussion, which centered on ways pro bono efforts can assist in the fight against modern day slavery, was the scarcity of criminal prosecutions in trafficking cases. The consensus was that this gap heightens the need for civil litigation cases to be brought on behalf of trafficking victims, as civil litigation can be a powerful avenue for survivors to reclaim their rights and sense of justice in cases where prosecutors decline to prosecute.

Left to right: Suzanne Tomatore, Director, Immigrant Women & Children Project; Demetri Jones, Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District of New York; Ellen Rosenthal, Chief Counsel, Pfizer Legal Alliance; Martina Vandenberg, Founder and President, Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center; Jayne Bigelsen, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives/External Affairs at Covenant House; Avaloy Lanning, Senior Director of Anti-Trafficking Program at Safe Horizon

Litigation, civil or criminal, also has the effect of putting a name and face to modern slavery, as was demonstrated on the panel by Assistant United States Attorney Demetri Jones, of the Eastern District of New York. Jones’s account of the 2007 prosecution of a husband and wife for trafficking and torturing two domestic workers from Indonesia brought modern slavery to life in the most unexpected of places: suburban New York.

Monday’s event began with opening remarks from Ellen Rosenthal, Chief Counsel of the Pfizer Legal Alliance and included: Jayne Bigelsen; Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives/External Affairs at Covenant House; Demetri Jones, Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York; Avaloy Lanning, Senior Director of Anti-Trafficking Program at Safe Horizon; and Martina Vandenberg, founder and president of Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center. The panel was moderated by Suzanne Tomatore, director of the Immigrant Women & Children Project at the City Bar Justice Center.

For additional information about the Immigrant Women & Children Project, click here.

 

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