Adoro camarões. Se não forem assim tão caros, tanto melhor. Mas nada justifica que algumas pessoas estejam a ser tratadas como escravas para que nós possamos ter marisco mais barato nas prateleiras dos supermercados. E é isso que está a acontecer na Tailândia, como revela uma investigação do The Guardian. Vejam este vídeo. E na próxima vez que pegarem num camarão, não vão olhar para ele da mesma maneira.
Estão ligadas a todos os tipos de crime: roubos, clonagem de cartões bancários, pirataria informática, mas tambémextorsão, prostituição e tráfico. São gangues organizados itinerantes cujas lideranças estão nos seus próprios países mas cujos “soldados” se espalham pela Europa para fazer dinheiro para o grupo. Neste trabalho para a Al Jazeera, os franceses Jerome Pierrat e Barbara Conforti entrevistaram criminosos em vários países da Europa de Leste, incluíndo os chamados Ladrões em Lei – uma organização criada nos gulags soviéticos. É um mundo obscuro, regulado por códigos próprios, de honra.
O tráfico de seres humanos é um dos maiores flagelos mundiais. Mesmo em países desenvolvidos. Este artigo da 5280, uma revista de Denver, nos Estados Unidos, conta a história de várias raparigas que caíram nas malhas da prostituição. Um murro no estômago.
In 2012, President Barack Obama said the fight against human trafficking was “one of the great human rights causes of our time”. So why are so many Colorado children still being sexually exploited?
LIPSTICK KISSES STAIN the corners of the mirror. Open tubes of mascara, a rainbow of eye shadows, and a warm curling iron cover the counter of the pink bathroom. T-shirts, skirts, and heels are scattered on the couch and spread along the floor of the basement. Sixteen-year-old Susie discards an entire pile of tops before settling on a cropped T-shirt, jeans, and wedges. Her naturally curly black hair is stick straight, her nails are freshly manicured, and her youthful olive skin needs no makeup. She hums along to some current mid-’90s radio hits—Mariah Carey, Tupac, Biggie—and helps a friend apply yet another layer of eyeliner, while the giggles and chatter of two other girls, ages 15 and 16, fill whatever space is left in the cramped room.
Around 11 p.m., after a final glance in the mirror, the girls are ready for their inspection. The foursome lines up against a kitchen wall upstairs for the nightly ritual. Dante’s six-foot-plus frame looms over them. The man the girls call Daddy gives each of them a deliberate up-and-down appraisal; his dark eyes take in one developing body at a time. Susie’s look pleases him, and she smiles. But her friend with the eyeliner still looks too young. Dante tells her to add false eyelashes.
Susie absently pushes a strand of hair behind her right ear, revealing the corner of a “5” tattoo. As she runs her finger along it, her skin tingles. Dante branded her with it a couple of weeks after she moved in with her new family. Although she’s not yet certain what it means, she’s pretty sure it has connections to his gang. It’s her first tattoo, a symbol of acceptance into this group and her new home.
After the review, Dante will drive Susie and her friends to a hotel suite or an apartment to meet the guests of honor. Some of these men will be barely old enough to drink; others could be the girls’ fathers or uncles. Bottles of alcohol will cover the tables. Ecstasy, fast becoming the drug of choice among partyers, will be passed around. The girls, however, can’t have any of it. Dante wants them to be sober when his clients choose their entertainment for the night. As they make flirty small talk with the girls, the men’s gazes will linger too long over their bodies. One of them will pick Susie, take her into another room, and close the door. She’ll pretend to enjoy herself, to find him interesting, to feel excited by his touch.
By the time she returns to the two-story Colorado Springs home at 6 a.m., school buses will already be starting their routes. That’s when Susie will shed her guise and become who she really is: Aubrey, a lost teenager who would do anything for her pimp. Because he provides for her basic needs—and she owes him.
THE PRACTICE OF SLAVERY in the United States officially ended in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment, almost three years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Over the previous 250 years, traders forcibly shipped more than 12 million Africans to the Americas. But even though the inhumane system has been universally outlawed, social scientists estimate that today, at least 27 million people around the world are still enslaved—more than twice as many as there were at the height of the transatlantic slave trade.
Although precise numbers are elusive, conservative approximations suggest 600,000 to 800,000 people worldwide are trafficked annually for labor or sex. (The rest of those 27 million are otherwise held against their will.) Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating at least $30 billion every year. The inception of websites such as Craigslist and backpage.com has helped slingshot trafficking to that top spot: Today, about 76 percent of sex trafficking transactions involving underage girls start on the Internet.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, sex trafficking makes up about 79 percent of all trafficking;
abor accounts for most of the rest. Despite the connotation of movement, the phrase “trafficking in persons,” when referring to sex trafficking, is more about forced prostitution than transportation—even though victims and their predators often move between homes or towns to avoid the police. Contrary to the plots of popular movies such as Taken, in which kidnappers snatch girls and ship them off to foreign brothels or elsewhere, victims recovered in the United States are just as likely as not to be American citizens. “These are young people who live in Colorado,” senior assistant attorney general Janet Drake says. “I am not seeing a lot of people, particularly kids, being brought here from other states or from other countries.”
Sex work is considered misdemeanor prostitution; commercial sex becomes a trafficking felony when someone (usually a pimp) profits off the transaction and a level of violence—or even the threat of it—is present. The federal Victims of Trafficking Protection Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as when “a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” In 2012 alone, U.S. law enforcement officials recovered about 40,000 such victims.
By law, minors do not have the legal capacity to agree to any commercial sex act, which is why the term “child prostitute” is a misnomer. “If there’s a way to manipulate someone, then someone out there will do it,” says Emily Lafferrandre, director of education and development for Prax(us), a Colorado nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic human trafficking. “If we can take off those blinders from who can experience it, we’ll start identifying people.”
O artigo completo está aqui.
É o primeiro Pulitzer do Center For Public Integrity. Uma investigação de um ano do repórter Chris Hamby sobre como médicos e advogados ao serviço da indústria do carvão ajudaram a esconder e a derrotar alegações de mineiros doentes devido ao seu trabalho nas minas. As revelações levaram a uma série de alterações legislativas, a pedidos de investigação federal, à suspensão de programas e à alteração de outros. A série de reportagens chama-se Breathless and Burdened: Dying from Black Lung, Buried by Law and Medicine, e esta é a primeira parte. Aviso: é longa – mas boa, muito boa.
BECKLEY, W.Va. — The stately, wood-paneled chamber in the federal building here unsettled Gary Fox and his wife, Mary. Fox was used to the dusty caverns of the mines in the southern part of the state, where he’d spent more than 25 years working underground in the heart of Appalachian coal country. They had never been in a courtroom before.
It had been at least 15 years since Fox first noticed signs of black lung disease. It started with shortness of breath. Then a cough that yielded black mucus. By 1999, his symptoms convinced him to apply for federal benefits. A doctor certified by the U.S. Department of Labor examined him and diagnosed the most severe form of the disease, known as complicated coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. The government ordered his employer, a subsidiary of behemoth Massey Energy Co., to begin paying him monthly benefits, but, as is almost always the case, the company appealed.
Gary and Mary now found themselves visitors in a foreign world — one populated by administrative law judges who must make sense of reams of medical evidence, sophisticated legal arguments and arcane rules; coal-company lawyers who specialize in the vagaries of the system and know how to attack claims; and doctors who consistently find cause to diagnose almost anything but black lung.
Among the most prominent denizens of this world are the attorneys in the federal black lung unit of the law firm Jackson Kelly PLLC. For almost two centuries, the firm has served the coal industry. It is the go-to place for many of the industry’s giants when they want to beat back a miner’s claim for benefits.
Jackson Kelly, with offices throughout Appalachia, as well as in Denver and Washington, D.C., defends companies accused of polluting the environment, marketing dangerous drugs or discriminating against workers. It helps corporations avoid regulations, drafts bills and lobbies legislators. Its bailiwick, though, is mining.U.S. News & World Report recently named it the nation’s top firm in mining law. Jackson Kelly’s name is on the lips of clinic workers, miners and lawyers throughout Appalachia and is emblazoned atop an office overlooking the Monongahela River in Morgantown, W.Va.
Now, with government scientists documenting a resurgence of black lung disease, the firm’s legal strategy — including, the Center for Public Integrity found, a record of withholding evidence — could have significant consequences for sick miners and their families.
On this September morning in 2000, in the courthouse named for longtime Sen. Robert C. Byrd, an experienced Jackson Kelly attorney sat at one table. At the other, Gary and Mary sat alone, having tried unsuccessfully to find a lawyer. This imbalance is not uncommon, as claimants’ attorneys have fled the federal black lung system in recent decades. Time and money are on the side of the coal company, which can hire scads of experts and drag cases out for years or decades. Miners’ lawyers are legally barred from charging claimants any fees, and the payoff, in the rare event of a win, is relatively meager.
Tall, lean and stoic, Fox, then 50, answered the judge’s questions with quiet deference — “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.” His brief testimony, along with the report from the examination paid for by the Labor Department, constituted virtually his entire case. Then it was Jackson Kelly’s turn. Exhibit after exhibit became part of the record — medical reports, depositions, résumés of eminent doctors who’d reviewed the evidence.
More important, however, was what didn’t make it into the record. Two years earlier, doctors had removed a suspicious mass from Fox’s lung. The purpose had been to rule out cancer, which the hospital’s pathologist had done. There is no evidence he looked for signs of black lung, or even that he knew Fox was a miner. Unknown to Fox, however, Jackson Kelly had obtained the slides of his lung tissue and sent them to two pathologists in its usual stable — doctors whose opinions typically supported the firm’s case.
This time Jackson Kelly didn’t get the answer it wanted. Both pathologists wrote reports indicating the mass likely was complicated black lung — a finding that, if credited by the judge, automatically would have won the case for Fox.
The firm’s lawyers could have accepted the opinions of the doctors they’d relied on so many times before. They could have conceded that Gary’s case had merit and agreed to pay him and Mary $704.30 a month, allowing him to escape the dust destroying his lungs. Even if they chose to fight the claim, they could have allowed their experts to see all of the pathology reports as they formed their opinions.
None of that is what the lawyers at Jackson Kelly did. Instead, the firm withheld the reports; Fox, the judge and the firm’s own consulting doctors had no idea they existed. In the months that followed, a team of Jackson Kelly lawyers built a case around the hospital pathologist’s report and its vague diagnosis of “inflammatory pseudotumor.” They encouraged the court and their own consulting doctors to view the report as the sole, definitive account of what Fox’s lung tissue revealed. Even one of the doctors retained by Jackson Kelly originally thought Fox had black lung. After being given the pathologist’s report, he changed his mind.
Relying heavily on the pathology report, a judge denied Fox’s claim for benefits in 2001, leaving him few options. He had a family to support, and he needed health insurance because Mary had a chronic illness. He went back to the mine, his health deteriorating. For years, no one but the firm knew of the powerful evidence that he had the severe disease and should get out of the mine’s dusty atmosphere immediately.
What happened to Gary Fox was not the result of a rogue attorney or singular circumstances. It was part of a cutthroat approach to fighting miners’ claims that Jackson Kelly has employed to great effect for decades, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity has found. Some of the firm’s tactics go beyond aggressive advocacy, crossing into unethical behavior, according to current and former judges, lawyers and state disciplinary officials. As a result, sick and dying miners have been denied the modest benefits and affordable medical care that would allow them to survive and support their families.
The role of lawyers in orchestrating sophisticated legal strategies to defeat claims for benefits is just the first chapter in the story of a system in which well-paid specialists thrive as miners struggle, the Center’s yearlong investigation, Breathless and Burdened, found. Coal companies rely on a cadre of doctors with prestigious affiliations, including a unit at the nation’s top-ranked hospital, to trump the opinions of miners’ physicians. Experts for hire continue a century-old tradition: denying scientific evidence that black lung can assume different appearances in different people, locking an entire class of sick miners out of the benefits system.
Jackson Kelly, documents show, over the years has withheld unfavorable evidence and shaped the opinions of its reviewing doctors by providing only what it wanted them to see. Miners, often lacking equally savvy lawyers or even any representation, had virtually no way of knowing this evidence existed, let alone the wherewithal to obtain it.
In the rare cases in which miners’ lawyers have pushed for access to these materials and a judge has ordered disclosure, Jackson Kelly has fought back aggressively, arguing that it has the right to withhold them. The firm has asked higher courts to intervene and accused judges of bias. It has defied court orders, knowing administrative law judges have no contempt powers to enforce their commands, or conceded the case rather than turn over evidence.
In published decisions, judges have called the firm’s defenses of its actions “ludicrous” and “flimsy at best.” “This is pretty shocking,” a current judge wrote of Jackson Kelly’s behavior in a 2009 email obtained by the Center. “It appears to represent a long-standing pattern of misconduct.”
Still, judges generally haven’t been receptive to arguments that Jackson Kelly’s handling of a particular case is symptomatic of anything broader or that disciplinary action is warranted.
Fox’s case, still unresolved, could change that. A judge deemed Jackson Kelly’s actions in the case a fraudulent scheme that threatened the integrity of the judicial system. A split appeals court vacated that ruling, and the decision is now on appeal. After the Center contacted the West Virginia Office of Disciplinary Counsel and asked whether action would be taken, the office opened investigations into three Jackson Kelly lawyers who were involved in Fox’s case. To date, they have not been charged with any wrongdoing.
The judge who denied Fox’s claim in 2001, Edward Terhune Miller, recently retired and, in an interview with the Center, learned what had been shielded from him more than a decade earlier. His eyes widened, and, for a moment, he was speechless.
“I’m utterly dumbfounded,” he said. “I just cannot conceive of attorneys doing that. … That’s really misleading the court. It’s misleading the witnesses. It’s tainting the witness testimony.”
Jackson Kelly’s general counsel, on behalf of the firm and the individual attorneys contacted by the Center, declined repeated interview requests and would not discuss specific cases or general practices. In court filings, the firm has argued that there is nothing wrong with its approach and that its proper role is to submit the evidence most favorable to its clients.
A spokesman for Alpha Natural Resources, which purchased Massey Energy and is now opposing Fox on appeal, declined to comment on the case while it is ongoing.
Until now, Jackson Kelly’s conduct in black lung cases has remained largely buried in voluminous files that are confidential because of the private medical and financial information they contain.
Over the past year, however, the Center has identified key cases and obtained written permission from miners or their surviving family members to view their entire case files. These 15 files span 40 years and include hundreds of thousands of pages. The Center also reviewed the limited publicly available information on dozens more of the firm’s cases.
O trabalho completo está aqui.
Uma parte da reportagem do Center For Public Integrity que ganhou o Pulitzer na categoria de jornalismo de investigação foi realizada em colaboração com a ABC News que a incluiu num segmento do programa Nightline. Esta é uma parte desse trabalho.
Os prémios Pulitzer foram entregues ontem. Para além do grande galardão de serviço público atribuído ao The Washington Post e ao The Guardian pela série de artigos relacionados com a actividade ilegal da NSA (escritos com base nos documentos entregues por Edward Snowden), o destaque vai também para o Center For Public Integrity que venceu na categoria de jornalismo de investigação. É um marco importante para uma organização jornalística sem fins lucrativos que vive apenas de doações e crowdfunding. A lista completa dos vencedores está aqui.
Há uma década, após o genocídio no Darfur, a Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) enviou para a região do Sudão uma força de 20 mil capacetes azuis. Missão: proteger os civis. Uma investigação da revista Foreign Policy mostra como a ONU falhou os objectivos e o que sabia que tinha acontecido. Este é o primeiro de uma série de três artigos publicados esta semana.
BLOOD OATH: INSIDE THE UNITED NATIONS’ DARFUR DEBACLE
“THEY JUST STOOD WATCHING.”
At 6:20 p.m. on March 24, 2013, a convoy of United Nations and African Union peacekeepers escorting three buses of displaced residents of Darfur to a peace conference was stopped by a group of uniformed men in a pair of Toyota Land Cruisers.
Mistaking the heavily armed men for government soldiers, the convoy commander, Lt. Paulinus Ifeanyi Nnadi, stepped out of his armored vehicle to talk them into allowing the vehicles through. As he walked toward the SUVs, five gun trucks filled with armed rebel fighters opposed to the talks roared out of the bush.
The rebels boarded the buses and ordered the drivers to follow them away from the main road. The captives were driven to a rebel stronghold where insurgents opposed to the peace talks stole their cell phones, bags, clothes, watches, and cash. They were then separated into groups of men and women and put into small cells where, according to several victims, they were beaten. Six days later, the rebels released their captives to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Nnadi, the peacekeeper’s commander, later told U.N. investigators that his forces had attempted to prevent the abductors from heading off with the civilians. The victims and bus drivers, though, said they were handed over without a fight. Several said they even saw the U.N. soldiers flashing “thumbs up” signs to the kidnappers as the buses drove off. The U.N. personnel peacekeepers, one of the bus drivers told investigators, “did nothing.”
“[The peacekeepers] made no visible effort to prevent the abduction of IDP [internally displaced persons] conference participants from the convoy,” an unreleased assessment by other U.N. personnel later concluded. “They just stood watching as the gunmen drove away the buses carrying the IDPs.”
The mass March 24 kidnapping — the details of which have never been publicly disclosed by the U.N. — marked a humiliating setback for troops from the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), a beleaguered, U.N.-funded force that was established specifically to protect Darfur’s citizens from a renewal of the genocide that had raged in the region years earlier, leaving more than 200,000 dead. The peacekeepers, though, have been bullied by government security forces and rebels, stymied by American and Western neglect, and left without the weapons necessary to fight in a region where more peacekeepers have been killed than in any other U.N. mission in the world. The violence that once consumed Darfur, meanwhile, has returned with a vengeance, resulting in civilian casualties and the large-scale flight of terrified men, women, and children.
Drawing on a massive trove of highly confidential UNAMID documents — including thousands of pages of emails, police reports, internal investigations and diplomatic cables — Foreign Policy will over the next three days publish a series of articles that shed light on how Darfur’s combatants, particularly the Sudanese government, have effectively neutered the U.N. peacekeeping mission, undermining its capacity to fulfill its primary duty to protect nearly 2 million civilians displaced by Sudan’s genocide. During the past year alone, more than 500,000 terrified men, women, and children have poured into the region’s already overcrowded refugee camps.
The mission’s former spokeswoman, Aicha Elbasri, provided FP with the documents to draw attention to what she sees as UNAMID’s failings and unwillingness to call out Khartoum for what she views as its deliberate targeting of Darfur’s civilians and UNAMID peacekeepers.
The documents — which track the period from 2012 through the end of 2013 — constitute perhaps the largest single leak of internal documents on an active U.N. mission in the world body’s history.
“It is fair to say that UNAMID peacekeepers largely failed to protect Darfur civilians, and their presence didn’t deter either the government or the rebels from attacking the civilians,” Elbasri, a dual U.S.-Moroccan citizen, wrote last May in an end of mission report weeks after she resigned from the mission in protest. “They sometimes helplessly witnessed the attacks and harassment of civilians, some of which took place near UNAMID team sites.”
U.N. officials concede that the Darfur operation is deeply flawed. The mission, which is administered jointly by the U.N. and the African Union (A.U.), has been hobbled since its birth by a range of disabilities: conflicting visions of its role between U.N. headquarters and African leaders; a lack of cooperation by the Sudanese government; poor leadership; and badly-equipped troops that lacked the helicopters, trucks, and other military hardware needed to patrol a region as vast as France.
“[UNAMID’s] effectiveness is seriously constrained by access restrictions and, in case of the uniformed components, mobility constraints and shortfalls in the operational capabilities of several troop and police contingents,” according to a strategic reviewproduced in February by the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In a statement to FP, the U.N.’s top peacekeeping official, a former French diplomat named Hervé Ladsous, said that it was “no secret that the relationship with the government has always been challenging.”
“In every mission there is a tension between the necessity to preserve the consent and good will of the host government required to allow our peacekeepers to do their jobs and the sometimes contradictory imperative to report accurately and candidly on any and all incidents of violence,” he wrote. “Bad relations with any host government can make it impossible for a mission to operate — to move around the country, to have their equipment cleared by national customs, to deploy new personnel.”
Some officials say the mission’s failings are beyond repair, but that the political leadership in African capitals and on the U.N. Security Council is unlikely to shut it down while violence is surging in Darfur. “That would require them to do something about it,” one U.N.-based diplomat said.
Others say that UNAMID — despite its failures and limitations — is vital to the well-being of Darfur’s most vulnerable civilians. “The problems of Sudan can’t be solved by a U.N. peacekeeping mission,” Princeton Lyman, President Barack Obama’s former special envoy to Sudan, said in an interview. “But if you withdraw UNAMID, I would fear for the people in the [refugee] camps. They would have no protection at all; and it’s not even clear they would be fed.”
“WE ARE FAILING OUR MANDATE.”
A decade ago, Darfur was at the heart of one of the world’s bloodiest ethnic cleansing campaigns. Between 2003 and 2005, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir orchestrated a brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the region’s key rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement. Sudanese bombers bombed suspected rebel positions from the air, while fighters from an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed stormed through local villages on horses and camels, burning homes and killing men, women, and children. Members of Darfur’s ethnic Fur and Zaghawa tribes took the brunt of the violence because they were suspected of supporting the rebels.
The slaughter drew widespread international attention, with movie stars such as George Clooney and Mia Farrow using their personal celebrity to raise awareness about the obscure region and apply pressure on governments to deploy peacekeepers in Darfur.
UNAMID was supposed to end the killing. For a while, U.N. and A.U. officials claimed that the peacekeeping army’s 20,000 troops were doing just that. Just before leaving his post, Rodolphe Adada, a Congolese politician and diplomat who ran the mission from May 2007 to late 2009, said Darfur’s darkest years of mass killing were effectively over.
“We can no longer talk of big conflict, of a war in Darfur,” he told the Associated Press in September 2009. “I think everyone understands it. We can no longer speak of this issue. It is over.”
Adada’s optimism was badly misplaced. The current violence hasn’t approached the levels of violence seen during the genocide, but peace remains elusive. The Janjaweed — that iconic symbol of Darfur’s darkest days — have never disappeared. They have simply been given uniforms and integrated into government auxiliary forces, including the Border Guards, the Central Reserve Forces, and the Popular Defense Forces.
The nature of the conflict, meanwhile, has grown increasingly complex as Darfur’s fractious rebel groups formed a coalition, including fighters from outside Darfur, to topple the government. The Sudanese government, facing severe financial constraints, has been unable to meet its payments to the Arab militias, testing its proxies’ loyalty and prompting them to fight other tribes for control over Darfur’s limited natural resources, including farmland and gold mining concessions. Last year alone, there were six major outbreaks of fighting over natural resources. In some cases, the Sudanese government fought alongside the militias, and in others they turned against one another.
But the gravest threat to Darfur’s civilians remains largely the same as it was a decade ago: a government-backed offensive, supported by the Janjaweed, that has used a combination of air power and ground attacks to depopulate large swaths of Darfur, swelling the ranks of the region’s displaced from about 1.2 million people late last year to nearly 1.7 million in 2014.
While UNAMID has helped provide some measure of support to the displaced, it hasn’t been able to fully protect them. In one poignant expression of local frustration with the peacekeepers, victims of a November 2012 massacre by a government-backed militia in the town of Sigili delivered the corpses of 10 civilians, wrapped in white cloth, to UNAMID’s headquarters in the nearby town of El Fasher to protest its failure to act. When UNAMID visited the town of Sigili the following day they were greeted by an angry mob that blocked their movement with burning tires and pelted their vehicles with stones, according to an internal UNAMID document.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a Ghanaian diplomat who took over the mission in early 2013, conceded that UNAMID has struggled to protect civilians. But he said in an interview that the presence of armed peacekeepers near Darfur’s largest camps for the displaced has nevertheless deterred attacks. When violence strikes, Chambas said, Darfuris turn to UNAMID for protection. “When the population living in villages outside of the IDP camps are threatened where do they run to? To UNAMID team sites,” he said. “There have been problems but one cannot speak of systematic intrusions [by armed groups] into the IDP camps to harm the people. In that regard we are fulfilling our mandate.”
O artigo completo está aqui.