Clinic issues report on Human Trafficking and Native Peoples

by University Communications,

Federal, state and local government officials in Oregon are not meeting their legal obligations to prevent and protect Native American victims of human trafficking or to prosecute offenders, according to a report just released by the Willamette University College of Law International Human Rights Clinic.

“The findings are especially troubling since Native Americans are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking both nationally and in Oregon,” notes Willamette law professor and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic Gwynne Skinner.

The report, Human Trafficking and Native Peoples in Oregon: a Human Rights Report, recommends eight changes that will allow government officials to better fulfill their legal obligations. They range from adding Native American as an ethnicity when tracking the ethnicity of trafficking victims, and providing more training on how to identify the crime and victims of trafficking, to improving relationships between non-tribal and tribal law enforcement and addressing jurisdictional complexities through training and improved collaboration.

The report was produced in follow-up to the International Human Rights Clinic’s 2010 report about human trafficking in Oregon. Later research revealed the unique vulnerability of Native Americans to the crime given their high levels of foster care and homelessness, and spawned the new publication.

Legal interns in Willamette’s International Human Rights Clinic engaged in the fact-finding and prepared the report over the course of three academic semesters under guidance and supervision by Skinner.

Willamette’s International Human Rights Clinic is part of the law school’s Clinical Law Program, developed to provide law students with hands-on, professional experience in the practice of law.