The Department of Justice’s Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT) held two Trafficking in Persons workshop for 30 Chiapas State officials from the Secretariat of Tourism and Secretariat of Foreign Relations in Tuxtla Gutierrez and San Cristobal. The two-day event included presentations by U.S. and Mexican trafficking experts, and provided an overview of the international and domestic trafficking phenomenon, an understanding of victims’ needs, and the role of the trafficking victim in the new accusatorial justice system.
Experts estimate that trafficking in persons affects 27 million men, women, and children who are forcibly removed from their homes, held in involuntary servitude in factories, farms, and homes, bought and sold into prostitution, and captured to serve as child soldiers. Despite the scope of this crime, we are only able to identify roughly 40,000 victims of trafficking a year. Workshops such as those held in Chiapas help government officials identify victims and bring their traffickers to justice.
These workshops are part of OPDAT’s three-year, $4 million trafficking in persons program under the Merida Initiative. Overall, the Merida Initiative has invested $6.5 million in the fight against human trafficking through capacity building, workshops, public awareness events, and more, all in conjunction with federal and state level Mexican government partners. For more information about the Merida Initiative and OPDAT’s programs, visit http://spanish.mexico.usembassy.gov/es/temas-bilaterales/mexico-y-eu-de-un-vistazo/iniciativa-merida.html and http://www.justice.gov/criminal/opdat/worldact-programs/latin-caribbean.html.