Film Premiere Puts Spotlight on Sex Trafficking in USA

Los Angeles, CA
17 January 2007

Human rights activists from southern California gathered to address the growing problem of human trafficking in Los Angeles and throughout the nation. A new docudrama that exposes trafficking in this country was premiered followed by a panel discussion. The film, Cargo: Innocence Lost, by award-winning film director Michael Cory Davis, unveils the dark underworld of sex trafficking. Cargo provides an insight into this human tragedy through interviews with some of the country’s top officials on the subject, victims’ advocates and victims themselves, who were rescued.  The film is interwoven with a raw, intense narrative based on numerous true stories of victims.

Held at the Church of Scientology International Celebrity Centre Garden Pavilion in Los Angeles, the event has been co-organized by a number of Southern California groups united in the fight against human trafficking—now a $9.5 billion-a-year criminal industry worldwide. Human trafficking experts and law enforcement representatives dealing with this issue led the panel discussion and answered questions.

Mary Shuttleworth, President of the International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance, an LA-based group that is co-organizing the event, stated, “Human trafficking is only possible because people are uninformed about modern-day slavery and about their basic human rights.  This is why we are promoting a series of public service announcements depicting all 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In less than thirty minutes, any person can gain a working knowledge of their fundamental rights.”

Released in June of last year, these emotion-packed PSAs have now aired to more than 130 million people in 60 countries. The fourth in the series, “No Slavery,” is a heartrending message that promotes that we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that slavery is still alive today.

Official estimates of the number of people trafficked into the United States each year range from 14,500 to 50,000.  Eighty percent of the cases in California occur in Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco, according to a 2005 report from the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley.

According to a United Nations 2005 news report, human trafficking is currently tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world after drug dealing, however it is the fastest-growing.  An estimated 27 million people are serving as slaves around the world, and every year 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders, half of whom are children.

The co-organizers of the event are: the International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance, Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women Human Trafficking Coalition, San Diego Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, Youth for Human Rights International, the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International, Artists for Human Rights, Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Rescue and Restore Southern Region Coalition and the Salvation Army.

For further information contact:

Mary Shuttleworth