Task Force on Human Trafficking, ATZUM (TFHT)

ECOSOC Status: None
Type: NGO working on Crime
Address: 4 Lloyd George Street
Jerusalem 93110
Country: Israel
Region: Middle East and Northern Africa
Website: http://www.atzum.org/
UN Languages:
Other languages:
  • Anti-Human Trafficking
Short description:
TFHT specializes in counter-trafficking issues in all of their aspects, including protection of victims and access to services, prevention of trafficking in persons and prosecution of trafficking and trafficking-related offences. To the extent that these issues engender involvement in addressing other issues such as public health, organized crime, or migration, TFHT is involved in those issues.

The Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT) works to help Israel put an end to human trafficking within its borders. TFHT's strategy is to:

Encourage stronger government measures to stop traffickers
Secure better rights and services for victims
Promote public awareness about trafficking in Israel
To achieve the above goals, TFHT operates in four major programmatic areas: (1) Lobbying (2) Advocacy (3) Research and Policy Reform; and (4) Education and Public Awareness.

TFHT lobbying efforts have left an appreciable mark on the battle against human trafficking and many important achievements have been realized since TFHT entered the field, including the following:

-In March 2005, a new law was passed providing unprecedented authority to the police to close down brothels without a court order.
-Several key ministers, including the prime minister, signed TFHTs Convention on Trafficking in Persons, pledging to commit their offices and resources to combat modern slavery.
-TFHT was specifically requested to submit a report of its comprehensive recommendations on how to combat trafficking. The prime ministers staff has submitted this report to the inter-ministerial committee for review.
-In a groundbreaking move, in the opening session of the Knesset, the prime minister mentioned the fight against trafficking as a priority issue on the national agenda. This stance is in sharp contrast to the previous administration which did not regard this issue as a priority.
-An inter-agency liaison was appointed to coordinate efforts to prevent trafficking and protect victims. This appointment has been in the works for several years but had been deferred for budgetary reasons.
-The Israeli prime minister created an inter-ministerial committee to assess and implement recommendations to counter trafficking in Israel.
-In October 2006, a new law was passed regarding all forms of human trafficking. The law establishes mandatory minimum sentences and provides more expanded protection and services for victims.

TFHT advances ground-breaking litigation, bringing complaints against key players in the trafficking industry in legal and quasi-legal proceedings. The following is a list of important breakthroughs realized as a result of TFHT's advocacy efforts:
-TFHT filed a petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice demanding that the attorney general reverse highly problematic prosecution policies. As a result of the petition, new policies were issued regarding the investigation of pimps and traffickers in trafficking and sexual crimes.
-TFHT wrote a formal letter to the court directorate demanding that judges protect victims by keeping personal details about victims (such as their names and addresses) out of their decisions. Our letter was distributed by the court directorate to all of the judges in the Israeli court system.
-TFHT met personally with the head of the court directorate to discuss legal obstacles to the application of a new law allowing the closure of brothels. As a result of the meeting, an in-depth explanation of the law was commissioned from the Ministry of Justice and distributed to judges to facilitate these proceedings.
-In an effort to ensure that "facilitators" of human trafficking not go unpunished, the Task Force has filed several petitions against newspapers in the courts and the Israeli Press Agency about ads recruiting victims and clients.

Policy Reform and Research
The Task Force promotes innovative legislative strategies and policies to counter human trafficking. To help develop these strategies, TFHT conducts intensive research into international "best practices" and the successes and failures of programs and policies worldwide. TFHT representatives are invited to participate in high-level meetings to share their insights and help shape national policy:

-TFHT representative Yedida Wolfe was invited by the UNODC to participate in and Expert Group Meeting to Design a Regional Plan to Fight Trafficking and Smuggling in the MENA (Middle East/ North Africa) Region.
-The Task Force is a regular participant in the Knesset sub-committee on trafficking in women and attends other Knesset committee sessions addressing subjects relating to trafficking.
-As one of its first steps, the Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings assigned the task of making recommendations to two sub-committees. The Sub-committee to Design a National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking for Purposes of Sexual Exploitation and the Sub-committee to Design a National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking for Purposes of Forced Labor. TFHT's executive director Yedida Wolfe is an active and vocal member of the first of these committees.
-Representatives of TFHT convene regular meetings with high ranking officials in the police, military, and the Knesset to explore ways of improving laws and policies relating to human trafficking.

Education and Public Awareness:
Education and awareness are critical elements in the fight against modern slavery. The Task Force has regular projects and programs designed to change public perceptions and break down myths, including the following:

-With the help of broadcasting and journalism students, TFHT produced 18 different televised public awareness campaigns about trafficking in women and over a dozen print-based public service announcements designed to help eliminate demand for sexually exploitative services.
-TFHT convenes an annual mass public awareness event which hundreds of politicians, policy-makers, NGO representatives and the press attend.
-TFHT has designed educational materials for law enforcement and public high schools and is working closely with officials to implement them en masse.
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