Every year, the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons highlights the efforts of individuals from all over the world who work tirelessly to ensure that every person, no matter one's nation of origin or standing in society, is able to pursue a life of freedom. In the days leading up to the release of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report on June 14, 2010, DipNote will share their stories.
About the Author: Talley Sergent is a Public Affairs Officer in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Laura Germino coordinates the Anti-Slavery Campaign for the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a community organization of more than 4,000 migrant farm workers. Since the early 1990s, she and her co-workers have investigated numerous violent slavery operations in the agricultural industry of the southeastern United States, resulting in federal prosecutions of the ringleaders and the liberation of more than 1,000 workers. The CIW's Campaign for Fair Food calls on the world's largest food corporations to demand an end to slavery and other human rights abuses in their produce supply chains. Ms. Germino has helped develop curriculum for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on advanced investigative techniques in human trafficking and for the National Sheriffs' Association on first response to victims of crime. As a co-founder of the Freedom Network Training Institute, she trains NGOs and law enforcement agencies on how to identify and put a stop to modern slavery operations. She has presented on forced labor at the OSCE's technical seminar in Vienna on agricultural labor trafficking and at the 15th World Congress on Criminology in Barcelona. While CIW has been honored on many occasions, Ms. Germino's insistence that the focus be on the workers has largely kept her out of the limelight.
Ms. Germino is the first-ever Trafficking in Persons Hero from the United States.