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US State Department Takes Israel off Human Trafficking Black List

According to a U.S. State Department human rights report published last week, Israel has improved its record on human trafficking from last year. The sixth annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” noted that during 2006 the Israeli government passed crucial amendments to its anti-trafficking law that comprehensively prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, including involuntary servitude and slavery. Many members of the NIF family can share in the credit for this improvement, which is a result of public awareness campaigns and lobbying efforts for the new legislation.

The State Department report also noted that, “in addition, the Israeli government extended legal assistance to victims of trafficking for involuntary servitude, and passed a national action plan to combat trafficking for forced labor."

As a result, Israel was taken off the list of 23 nations on Tier III and placed in Tier II with nations that “do not fully comply with the US Congress' Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”

Rom Levkovitz, spokesman of NIF grantee Hotline for Migrant Workers in Israel, which lobbied for the new legislation outlawing human trafficking, insisted that Israel could not rest on its laurels.

“Foreign workers in Israel still find themselves imprisoned [by their traffickers], or have their passports taken away,” he observed. “In a best case scenario they escape from their traffickers and lead a precarious existence on the street.”

Meanwhile former NIF grantee Isha La’Isha, Haifa Feminist Organization, which coordinates the fight against prostitution and trafficking in women, has warned that a vacuum has been created in Israel’s sex market resulting in the more rapid development of local girls for prostitution. NIF and its grantees are keeping a careful eye on the situation to monitor developments and implement solutions.

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$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.