March 9, 2008
The Marianas Variety reports today that Father Joseph E. Billoti has come to the defense of human rights advocates who support federalization, and are working to end the trafficking of women and minors to the CNMI.
Reporter, Gemma Q. Cassas writes:
Father Joseph E. Billoti said he’s outraged over the intimidation and threats that the women have to face as they work for non-government organizations that help victims of human trafficking.
“Many must be aware of the accusations and the threats, even calls for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, leveled against three professional women who have dedicated their lives to the protection and betterment of the victims of trafficking here in the CNMI. Two of them work for Karidat and Guma Esperansa. One has been a human rights advocate for 18 years,” said Billoti in an e-mail given to Variety.
He declined to name the three women, but local group Taotao Tano earlier criticized Wendy Doromal, Stella Mangona, Lauri Ogomoru for “colluding” in pushing the passage of the CNMI federalization bill in the U.S. Congress.
“They were accused of coercing members of a number of organizations into protests and marches in an attempt to ‘force’ federalization of immigration onto an unwilling local population,” he added. The three are also accused of using their positions at Karidat and Guma Esperansa to coerce victims to fax their testimonies to American lawmakers in support of federalizing the islands’ immigration system."
The article reports:
In the CNMI, 55 human trafficking victims were referred to Guma Esperansa for protective custody or shelter from May 7, 2005 to Feb. 14, 2008. “The nationalities of the victims are: Filipino, 39; Chinese, 13 and Micronesian, 3. The first case fell under labor trafficking,” Billoti said.
"The other 54 cases fall under sexual trafficking. “Further, there are 29 criminal court cases, 18 charges pending, four ongoing investigations, 1 referral to DPS/AGIU and three preliminary stages of investigation. There are also 37 parallel civil cases involved.”
He said there are no easy solutions to stop human trafficking but justice will be served through the collaboration of numerous governmental agencies and NGOs. “In a word, just about anyone who has any role in arresting, prosecuting, protecting, giving medical aid, supplying housing and transportation must be involved until the case is resolved,” he said."
Father Bilotti, also a courageous advocate for victims of human trafficking, has been writing articles for the North Star to educate those living in the CNMI about the serious issue of human trafficking. Education is essential to pierce ignorance and change hearts.
Human trafficking destroys lives. It needs to be stopped. To get involved you can donate to Saipan's Guma Esperansa, House of Hope, which provides shelter and assistance to victims of human trafficking as described by Father Billoti.
24 Hour Victim Hotlines
234- 5100 - Saipan
433-0361 - Tinian
532-0444 - Rota
Police/Emergency - 911
• Domestic Violence Intervention Center 664-4584
• Victim Advocate Program – Karidat 234-5248
• Community Guidance Center 323-6560
• Karidat 234-5248
• Victim Hotline 234-5100
Programs for Abusers
Anger Management Program – Community Guidance Center 323-6560
You can get more information on human trafficking at the Not For Sale Campaign, at The Ricky Martin Foundation, Free the Slaves, and Vital Voices.
To read more about human trafficking in the CNMI:
Human Trafficking in the CNMI
Putting an End to Human Trafficking
Not Old News!
Human Trafficking Sentences
CNMI – A Back Door to Trafficking
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." Archbishop Desmond Tutu