US Secretary of State to honor Latvian human rights defender

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US Secretary of State John F. Kerry will release the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report at 10:00 a.m. on July 27, 2015, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Secretary Kerry will also honor this year’s TIP Report Heroes, which include Latvia’s Gita Miruškina, a lawyer at Safe House in Riga, informed the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga.

Ms. Miruškina is one of just eight men and women chosen worldwide for the award, which recognizes the tireless efforts they have made in the global fight against modern slavery. Safe House works directly with sex and labor trafficking victims, assisting them in their recovery and providing vital legal aid.

Ms. Miruškina has dedicated her life to assisting victims of human trafficking and enhancing the legal understanding of trafficking in persons in Latvia and the European Union. She is the first Latvian to be named a TIP Report Hero by the U.S. Secretary of State.

Ms. Miruškina also has been instrumental in alerting the EU to the issue of “sham marriages” – brokered marriages between EU passport-holders and third-country nationals. These marriages are arranged so that the latter can become eligible for immigration benefits – a practice that often leads to sex and labor trafficking, especially of women from Eastern Europe.

In the past six years, Ms. Miruškina has assisted more than 150 trafficking victims and acted as their legal representative in nearly 30 trials, including Latvia’s first labor trafficking trial, a landmark case that is still ongoing. 

As required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), the U.S. Department of State’s TIP Report assesses government efforts around the world to combat modern slavery. This year's report, the 15th installment, includes narratives for 188 countries and territories, including the United States. 2015 also marks the 15th anniversary of the TVPA.

Miruškina had previously been awarded a high recognition of the State Department of the USA for heroism in combating human trafficking, informed Loretta Lynch, General Attorney of the United States on 2 June during the visit of the organization.

Below is a human trafficking awareness video from the Safe House YouTube account:

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