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Jones Day’s Bethany Biesenthal, a former assistant United
States Attorney, talks about the scope of the global human
trafficking crisis and explains how the Firm is devoting resources
to the fight against these illegal and immoral activities in
jurisdictions around the world. Laura Ellsworth, Partner-in-Charge
of our Global Community Service Initiative, explains some of the
ways Jones Day works with global clients, to help identify,
prevent, and prosecute human trafficking crimes.
Read the full transcript:
Human trafficking is an enormous problem. And it’s a global
one. So just looking at the numbers alone, there’s conservative
estimates that there are 24.9 million victims of forced labor
throughout the world. That’s both adults and children.
Conservative estimates are 4.8 million victims of sexual
exploitation. Again, across the world, both adults and children. So
when we look at numbers, it doesn’t appear as though the
numbers are going down. What it does look like is we have a better
understanding of the enormity of the problem. So now with that
understanding, we’re able to start combating human trafficking,
and we anticipate the numbers or hope the numbers with our work
will start to go down.
The way that Jones Day is combating human trafficking or
approaching the problem is largely the same that historically the
firm has approached their client problems. There’s an
integrated approach where, because of the size of the firm, its
global reach, the number of people, the diversity of its people,
the different skill sets, this firm is uniquely equipped to be able
to take a really all hands-on approach and an integrated approach
to any type of problem.
We help different kinds of victims in different kinds of ways.
Sometimes we do individual representations of victims who have been
trafficked and are seeking restitution. And we have had
multi-million dollar verdicts for those clients. We also represent
clients who have been victims of online child sexual exploitation,
who are trying to get their images taken down, who are trying to
get restitution from their traffickers. We have represented
children who were exploited by what’s called voluntourism. So
people who go abroad for the purpose of finding vulnerable children
and sexually abusing them.
We will represent the interests of those children in litigation
here in the United States where US law provides restitution for
those children. And one of the things we learned in that work, one
instance where we were writing the check to the child. And we were
asked to mail it to a particular address. And we looked at that
address and realized it was one of the addresses where the child
had been abused. And what we realized was the family who had been
perpetrating the abuse was now trafficking this child in a
different way, to us, for restitution.
And for what we thought was good work, obtaining restitution for
a victim, we realized risked perpetuating trafficking and perhaps
creating new incentives for trafficking. We have worked with NGOs
in country and financial institutions to develop models where the
payments that are made for restitution go as they do in settlements
for minors, right? Something we’re familiar with. It goes to
the benefit of the child and enables that child to maybe get
schooling away from that family. And then, we work with judges in
the US to sensitize them to that issue, so that when they are
awarding restitution, the judges and the prosecutors ask those
questions. So we’re trying to help the judicial system, but
more importantly, we’re trying to help those victims.
Jones Day currently is doing a lot with the court specifically
in trying to put together a model diversionary program that would
help victims of human trafficking who have convictions, criminal
convictions, oftentimes felonies as a result of their trafficking
situation. So just by way of example, only a sex trafficking
victim, by the time they reach federal law enforcement or local law
enforcement, they may have several prior convictions for
prostitution, all of which were done under the guide of their
trafficker. So the firm is working hard with the courts to try to
come up with a way to stop those convictions, have victims of human
trafficking come into the courts. And instead of racking up another
conviction, seek therapy services, help them find a job, do things
that then we can divert them from the crime that they ultimately
were going to be convicted of.
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