Great news out of Washington, DC

Great news out of Washington, DC: U.S. State Department to recognize CIW Anti-Slavery Coordinator Laura Germino as 2010 “Anti-Trafficking Hero”!

CIW Modern-Day Slavery Museum headed to DC to serve as backdrop for ceremony…

Germino (above, right, leading Sec. of Labor Solis on recent tour of museum) to be first US recipient of State Department “Hero” recognition…

Ten years ago, with the passage in Congress of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the law used to bring criminal charges of slavery against employers in the U.S. today), the U.S. State Department began issuing a yearly report on trends in international slavery and efforts to combat it, called the “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report.

In the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spoken during the unveiling of the 2009 report, “With this report, we hope to shine the light brightly on the scope and scale of modern slavery so all governments can see where progress has been made and where more is needed.” Sec. Clinton went on to say:

“… Around the world, millions of people are living in bondage. They labor in fields and factories under brutal employers who threaten them with violence if they try to escape. They work in homes for families that keep them virtually imprisoned. They are forced to work as prostitutes or to beg in the streets, fearful of the consequences if they fail to earn their daily quota. They are women, men, and children of all ages, and they are often held far from home with no money, no connections, and no way to ask for help.

This is modern slavery, a crime that spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with an endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain. Human trafficking is a crime with many victims: not only those who are trafficked, but also the families they leave behind, some of whom never see their loved ones again…

Today, the State Department releases our annual report on trafficking in persons. It underscores the need to address the root causes of trafficking, including poverty, lax law enforcement, and the exploitation of women…” read more

As part of the annual TIP report release, the State Department recognizes the efforts of a handful of individuals from around the world who have shown extraordinary commitment and leadership in the fight against slavery, TIP “Heroes” as the State Department calls them.

This year, Laura Germino, the CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign Coordinator, has been chosen to receive this terrific distinction, and when she does, she will be the first U.S.-based recipient to receive the recognition.

We are extremely proud of Laura, whose untiring work fighting forced labor in Florida — beginning in the early 1990’s — helped launch today’s anti-slavery movement in the U.S. Nearly twenty years later, Laura continues to investigate slavery operations, work in partnership with the Department of Justice to prosecute slavers, and train state and local law enforcement, community service organizations, and FBI personnel in how to identify and combat forced labor across the Southeast.

We are also very proud that the State Department has requested that the CIW’s Modern-Day Slavery Museum serve as the backdrop for the 2010 TIP report ceremony. The museum will begin its way up 95 tomorrow with the goal of making it there in one piece for Monday’s ceremony in Washington, DC!

The museum, housed in an actual cargo truck outfitted as a replica of the trucks involved in a recent slavery operation (U.S. v. Navarrete, 2008), may or may not make it there for the ceremony, so, just in case it doesn’t, we’re including here a great video on the museum and its tour earlier this year across the state of Florida. The video is set to, “Captain, Don’t You Kill Old Bob,” a work song performed by Fred Lee Fox, a 20-year-old turpentine worker, in 1939. The song was recorded by Stetson Kennedy, Florida’s foremost folklorist and a renown human rights activist, at a labor camp outside Cross City, Dixie County, Florida.

Enjoy, and check back soon for more details on Monday’s ceremony in Washington!