21:06 GMT +315 December 2017
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    RUSSIA-USA JOIN EFFORTS TO DETER HUMAN TRAFFICKING

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    MOSCOW (Boris Gavrilov, deputy chief of the Russian Interior Ministry's investigation committee, for RIA Novosti)

    American law enforcers recently arrested Gregory Kapordelis, a US national who travelled to St Petersburg to pursue illegal sexual contacts with minors. The arrest was made by the American immigration and customs services in cooperation with Russia's security agencies.

    There are many examples of successful cooperation between the Russian and American security services. For example, they recently exposed an illegal network that sent women from St Petersburg to the US. The FBI managed to secure the support of an American who had already been convicted in this case. He helped investigators expose the scheme that involved trafficking women for sexual exploitation. The criminal group also brought Russian children to the United States allegedly for adoption. In reality, their organs were used for transplants. Tom Firestone, US Department of Justice representative in Moscow, has handed over the investigation material to Russia.

    Dozens of criminal groups recruiting Russian nationals for the sex industry in the USA, Europe, Asia and the Middle East have been uncovered in Russia over the past seven years. They worked in Yekaterinburg, Volgograd, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad and other cities around Russia. One group, which was arrested in an operation conducted by the Russian and US security services, earned $700,000 over a short period of time. According to experts, human trafficking is the third most lucrative business after arms and drugs trafficking.

    An all-Russian assembly on counteracting human trafficking took place in Moscow this year. It was the first event of its kind. NGOs, executive government officials, among them US State Secretary Colin Powell, gathered to discuss ways to fight the slave trade. Human traffickers' clients are based, above all, in Europe and the United States. According to the International Organisation for Migration, up to 50,000 women and children from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), central and eastern Europe are "imported" to the USA every year. Mr Powell told the assembly that human trafficking was immoral and unacceptable, while he called on the international community to pool its efforts to end this evil.

    Congress and the FBI invited Russian security officials and MPs to visit the US as part of the joint efforts against human trafficking. The Russian delegation visited government bodies and prosecutor's offices in several states and the federal Justice Department. US experience in fighting human trafficking deserves to be thoroughly studied, while America has a law against human trafficking on the statute books, Russia has only drafted one. The US law on the protection of witnesses is also of interest for Russia. Seventeen thousand people in the United States are subject to protection under the law, which means that American witnesses are willingly to testify in big cases. This is another law that cannot be found in Russia's Criminal Code, so State Duma deputies should draft one.

    Russia recently ratified the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo Convention) and the supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This will allow Russian law enforcement agencies to wage a more effective war on the slave trade.

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