By: TAYLOR KING
Marie Martinez Israelite is the most recent expert to join the Human Trafficking Institute’s deep bench of experienced anti-trafficking professionals. As the Director of Victim Services, she will develop critical relationships with law enforcement officers, prosecutors, government officials, and victim services providers to build upon the Institute’s model of a trauma-informed approach to decimating modern slavery at the source.
“I am so appreciative of the opportunity to use my skills to help the Institute further its work in the United States as well as Uganda and Belize, ensuring the voices, needs, and desires of survivors are not only heard but also integrated into our model for justice reform,” Israelite said.
Israelite will support victim and witness coordination units in the Institute’s partner countries (presently, Belize and Uganda) and provide expert advice and counsel regarding human trafficking investigations. She will also play a key role in the establishment of specialized human trafficking investigative units and provide ongoing support to ensure these units understand the importance of implementing trauma-informed, victim-centered principles in their investigations as well as the benefits of systems based advocacy.
“Systems based advocacy refers to the provision of victims’ rights and services within the criminal justice response. When we invest in systems based advocacy, it means that we recognize that meeting the needs of victims is not just a responsibility of our nongovernmental partners, but of the investigative and prosecutorial agencies themselves. We need to ensure that criminal justice agencies take responsibility for providing victims with critical information, referrals, and support throughout the lifespan of the case,” said Israelite. “This approach is not only the right thing to do for survivors, but it also leads to better outcomes for cases. We ask a lot of them in their role as witnesses but they first need to feel safe and secure in order to participate effectively in the criminal justice process.”
Israelite previously served at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where she was Chief of the Victim Assistance Program, directing policy efforts, program development, and victim services for all federal crime victims, including survivors of human trafficking and child exploitation.
“We are so grateful to have Marie on the team,” said Victor Boutros, Institute Chief Executive Officer and Founding Director. “She is one of the most highly qualified experts in the anti-trafficking field, and we are so excited to see how her experiences and expertise shape our organization moving forward.”
Israelite assisted in the development of Institute’s first Global Human Trafficking Academy, a first-of-its-kind, intensive training program designed to accelerate a country’s progress toward combatting the crime of trafficking in persons. The Academy, held in Northern Virginia, included a specialized cohort of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and social workers from Uganda, Belize, and South Africa.
“Marie couldn’t have joined the Institute at a better time,” said Dave Rogers, Director of Law Enforcement Operations for the Institute. “She brings a host of incredible insights and best practices, which are integral for the long-term success of the Global Human Trafficking Academy, but also our work as a whole. Every aspect of our operations should be geared toward the best interests of the victims who have endured these horrific crimes, and Marie’s presence on our team will be a critical way to ensure a sustainable, victim-centered approach to combatting trafficking.”
To read Marie Israelite’s full bio, click here.