Each year the U.S. Department of State honors individuals who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. This year, as in 2020, the ceremony celebrating the work of eight outstanding individuals was again held virtually due to COVID-19 precautions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the men and women honored as this year’s 2021 TIP Report Heroes.
“They’re advocates, public servants, leaders of NGOs, and they help stop trafficking in all kinds of ways by supporting victims, helping to bring traffickers to justice, creating national action plans, addressing the root causes of trafficking.”
Imelda Poole, a native of Great Britain, works through the anti-trafficking NGOs Mary Ward Loreto, which she established, and the European RENATE network, to combat human trafficking in Albania and across Europe.
Josiane Lina Bemaka-Soui developed the Central African Republic’s national anti-trafficking response and led the development and implementation of her country’s first national action plan on human trafficking.
Chantal Sagbo Sasse, who has worked against trafficking for over two decades, launched and now leads one of the country’s preeminent NGOs dedicated to combating child trafficking.
Shoichi Ibusuki works to protect the rights of foreign workers in Japan. For many years, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of foreign technical trainees to assist victims of forced labor and prevent abuse within Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program.
Shakhnoza Khassanova, of Kazakhstan, is the director of the Legal Center for Women’s Initiative, “Sana Sezim.” She works to raise awareness about human trafficking, advocating for greater victim protections, and aiding migrants and victims of human trafficking from across Central Asia.
Guillermina Cabrera Figueroa, a specialized prosecutor for human trafficking for the State of Mexico, plays a pivotal role in advancing the State of Mexico Attorney General’s Office’s ability to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases.
Mohammed al-Obaidly, an Assistant Undersecretary within Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor, and Social Affairs, he advocates for labor and human trafficking reforms and executed many of the policies and programs that have had significant impacts for trafficking victims.
Rocio Mora-Nieto has worked for over two decades to combat the sexual exploitation of women and sex trafficking in Spain.
“In many ways, the fight against trafficking is fought on the local level, one community at a time,” said Secretary Blinken. “And we celebrate the brave people leading the fight, often at great risk to themselves.”