Each year the U.S. Department of State honors individuals who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. They include non-governmental organization leaders, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. Three of this year's ten honorees are from Latin America and the Caribbean.
In Guatemala, Leonel Dubon has shown unflagging dedication to assisting victims of human trafficking and encouraging NGO-government partnership. In 2009, Mr. Dubon was the driving force behind the creation of the NGO Children's Refuge House to provide a safe residential setting for 26 underage female victims of sex trafficking. In 2010, the organization provided shelter and services to 51 girls. Mr. Dubon opened two more shelters in 2011. Mr. Dubon is also working with the government's Department of Social Welfare to train 30 foster families on how to provide a safe, loving environment to child trafficking victims who cannot access shelters.
Dilcya Garcia, a deputy prosecutor in the Mexico City Attorney General's Office, prosecuted a landmark case in 2009 that resulted in the first trafficking sentence in Mexico. In 2009 and 2010, she worked with other authorities to raid a notorious trafficking district in Mexico's capital.
Under Ms. Garcia's leadership, the Office for Assistance for Victims, Human Trafficking, and Domestic Violence worked with civil society to provide more than 250 rescued sex and labor trafficking victims with services, including shelter, and psychological treatment. Ms. Garcia then developed indictments against more than 100 alleged traffickers. She has inspired many in the government and civil society to take bolder steps against human traffickers.
Sheila Roseau is a longtime advocate for women's rights and is the executive director of Antigua and Barbuda's Gender Affairs Directorate. Ms. Roseau was a driving force behind the country's first law to provide criminal penalties for human traffickers and extensive protections for victims. Ms. Roseau has established a coalition to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts within the government, rolled out a public information campaign, and set up a public-private partnership for sheltering victims.
It is heroes like Leonel Dubon, Dilcya Garcia, and Sheila Roseau who make a difference on behalf of victims of human trafficking. They deserve recognition for their tireless efforts to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of trafficking issues in their countries and abroad.