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Disability Rights Advocates Take Aim at Human Trafficking of People with Disabilities

For Immediate Release         
February 1, 2017                    

Contact: David Card
202.408.9514 x122
press@ndrn.org

WASHINGTON – To mark the end of Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center (HT Pro Bono) signed a collaborative memorandum of understanding to work more closely to prevent the human trafficking of people with disabilities. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and traffickers target vulnerable peoples, such as persons with intellectual, developmental, and mental health disabilities. Only recently has the disability aspect of human trafficking gained attention.

Through the collaboration, NDRN and HT Pro Bono will assist each other to develop several trainings, create materials, and engage in other projects to raise awareness and to prevent the trafficking of persons with disabilities. Such efforts fall clearly within the mission of both organizations.   

“Our research has shown that people with disabilities are particularly at risk for trafficking into both forced prostitution and forced labor. Cases involving this type of abuse are on the rise,” said Martina Vandenberg, President of HT Pro Bono. “This partnership seeks to reverse that trend, alerting both communities to the risks of trafficking for those with disabilities. All trafficking survivors must have access to justice."

NDRN is the nonprofit membership association, and the training and technical assistance provider, for the congressionally mandated and federally funded Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system. The P&A system is charged with protecting and advocating for people with disabilities, especially against abuse and neglect, which would include human trafficking. HT Pro Bono trains pro bono attorneys to represent trafficking victims in the United States, providing mentoring and technical assistance on trafficking cases. The organization partners with other groups to promote policy reform to combat both labor and sex trafficking.

“The fact that human trafficking occurs within our borders and around the world is disgraceful,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “NDRN looks forward to working closely with HT Pro Bono to assist the P&A system and human trafficking advocates prevent the trafficking of persons with disabilities.”

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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center empowers trafficked women, men, and children to seek justice. HT Pro Bono leads national efforts to hold human traffickers accountable for their crimes and to raise awareness of victims’ rights. By linking trafficking victims with highly-skilled pro bono attorneys, HT Pro Bono works to obtain criminal convictions, criminal restitution, and civil judgments against traffickers.

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