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Attorneys from 10 Countries Attend First NAGTRI International Program

Twenty government attorneys from 10 countries participated in the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute’s (NAGTRI) inaugural International Fellows program, June 4 - 12. Attorneys from Bosnia, Canada, Czech Republic, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United States arrived in Washington, D.C., to learn about and discuss strategies for stemming the tide of human trafficking, the fastest growing and second largest criminal enterprise internationally. Human trafficking is the focus of the one-year National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) presidential initiative, led by Washington Attorney General and NAAG President Rob McKenna.

The program kicked off with a welcome reception at the Maryland home of Chris Toth, NAGTRI director and NAAG deputy executive director. “This program will provide a unique opportunity for the Fellows to learn from one another and develop common strategies to deal with the insidious and increasing problem of human trafficking,” Toth said. “As the world shrinks, the need for sharing perspectives and increasing cooperation across borders grows.”

After the Fellows enjoyed a quick tour of Washington, D.C., they spent a full day learning about NAAG as well as hearing from some of the nations’ leading experts on human trafficking. Professor Mark Lagon, former ambassador with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State, and currently chair for International Relations and Security Concentration for the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University, was the first guest speaker. Following him was Hilary Axam, director of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), who described U.S. federal law that criminalizes human trafficking and gave some examples of the case that she and her colleagues successfully prosecuted. Samantha Vardaman from Shared Hope International and Sarah Jakiel from the Polaris Project talked about the importance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) collaborating with law enforcement and prosecutors in tackling human trafficking. Rounding out the day, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, with the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, passionately spoke about his experiences around the world and the leadership position that the United States has undertaken to assist other countries in combating this form of modern day slavery.

These presentations provided the foundation for the Fellows to start their group work to discuss four different aspects of human trafficking and solutions that countries might adopt to help combat the crime. Throughout the week, the individual groups met, discussed, and began to compile their recommendations on cross-border cooperation, NGO participation, model human trafficking laws, and the impediments of enforcing existing laws and how training might assist in breaching those impediments.

The Fellows had the opportunity to receive a briefing from a number of DOJ Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development officials and met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who commended the Fellows on their dedication to fighting human trafficking. They then received a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol and met with former New Hampshire Attorney General and now U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte. Journeying from the Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fellows were given an overview of the U.S. judicial system by the Clerk of the Supreme Court William Suter.

On Wednesday, June 6, braving an unseasonable heat wave, the Fellows travelled to Baltimore to meet with Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and members of his staff who briefed them on the structure of their office and how human trafficking is being dealt with on the state level. The Fellows enjoyed a taste of American culture by attending a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Camden Yard Stadium. Thursday, after finalizing their papers and having a brief session on management issues in public prosecutor offices, the Fellows headed to New York City where they met with the staff of the New York Attorney General’s Office. After a sobering tour of Ground Zero, they journeyed to Columbia University Law School where they presented the papers they developed throughout the week. Jim Tierney, former Maine Attorney General and director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School, and Anne Milgram, former New Jersey Attorney General, helped to moderate the discussion. Mr. Tierney concluded that portion of the program with a discussion on ethics for public prosecutors.

After an evening in New York City and enjoying the classic Broadway musical, “Lion King,” the Fellows returned to Washington where they participated in a graduation ceremony and closing dinner. Reviews of the inaugural International Fellows program have been overwhelmingly positive. One participant stated, “I would like to applaud the organizers for setting up a highly-interesting program as well as identifying an excellent group of participants with whom I was happy to establish warm personal as well as very productive professional relations.” Another commented, “This was a wonderful experience and I am truly grateful to have been allowed to participate in it. I am sure that it will have a significant effect on the way that I approach things, analyse things and advocate. Thank you!”

Fellows participating in the program were Tahseen Hasan Al-Chaabawi and Amir Abulkarim Al-Khiyon from Iraq, Dalia Avramoff from Israel, Sylvia Domaradzki from British Columbia, Canada, Alma Dzaferovic, Suada Pasic and Zorica Travar from Bosnia, Nancy Hovis from Washington state, Jorge Emilio Iruegas Alvarez from Mexico, Erin Kulpa from Virginia, Abigail Kuzma from Indiana, Jeanette Manning from the District of Columbia, Denis Markov from Russia, Sonia Paquet from Quebec, Canada, Jennifer Stark from Massachusetts, Kirk Torgensen from Utah, Olena Trapeznikova from Ukraine, Asha Vaghela from New Jersey, Evelyn Yiying Wu from Taiwan, and Pavel Zeman from the Czech Republic. The program was largely funded through the NAAG Mission Foundation. Further funding came from the Alliance Partnership and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The papers developed for this program will be made available on the NAGTRI web site, NAGTRI is already beginning to plan its international program for next year.

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