On March 14, a researcher spoke at ASU Law School about his experience with human trafficking. But Charles Katz’s experience is not merely theoretical, however. His work—by him and his team—showed quite a bit of derring-do.

That night, Katz talked about the work he and others had done in the Philippines to assess the growth or decline of human trafficking in response to an interdiction effort known as Project Lantern, sponsored by the Gates Foundation. The evening’s conversation veered from eye-popping stories about the conditions in which young sex workers live, to eyelid-challenging sidebars on sample size and researcher bias.

All in all, a night at the university.

Charles M. Katz

Kidding aside, the presentation was well done, even if social scientists may have benefited more than the lawyers in the room. The lecture explained well the goals of Project Lantern—decrease child trafficking and increase local capacity to address it going forward.

Especially intriguing was the development of a “her space,” a location where the women and young girls who were found in brothels or elsewhere would be treated as victims rather than as criminals.

That discussion reminded me of a 2011 State Bar Convention seminar titled “Is Justice the Abuser?” There, some panelists talked about the challenges even American police departments have addressing sex workers as possible victims. Clearly, such a thing requires quite a mental shift. But without it, victims may be victimized twice.

Projects like this sound like they may be making an impact. Project Lantern included proposed changes at every level of the justice system, from policing, through prosecution and post-trial release, and even in statutory changes.

Unfortunately, as in most cases, the initial focus and research is just on the street-level policing. More research will have to be done to determine if all elements of the Philippine justice system have built their capacity to decrease or eradicate trafficking.

More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

One side note: I have come to appreciate the creative and imaginative programming to come out of the Center for Law and Global Affairs at ASU Law School. Professor Daniel Rothenberg is the Center’s Executive Director, and I tip my hat to him and his staff for their work.

I’d recommend you add the following upcoming Center event to your calendar:

  • On April 4 from 3:30-4:30, David Scheffer, Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law from Northwestern University School of Law will discuss his experiences as the first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, his experiences negotiating the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court and current challenges of international criminal justice.

Questions about the Center or its events? Suggestions on content for the future? Email cflaga@asu.edu