The Institute Partners with Restavek Freedom to Host Haitian Delegation in DC

The Human Trafficking Institute recently partnered with Restavek Freedom to host members of the Haitian government during a two-day visit to Washington, DC.

The Haitian delegation included: Dr. Ely Thelot, President, National Committee for Trafficking in Persons; Dr. Price Cyprien, Congressman with the new administration in Haiti and head of the Justice committee; Joab Thelot, an attorney working in the office of the Minister of Justice in Haiti; and Jean Bilda Robert, Haiti Country Director, Restavek Freedom.

During their stay, the delegation met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Sen. Bob Corker’s staff, U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Office, Congressman Robert Aderholt, International Justice Mission, and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul G. Altidor. Through these meetings, Restavek Freedom and the delegation shared about the work they are doing in Haiti to fight trafficking and learned of ways they can increase their partnership with U.S. allies. According to Dr. Thelot, in Haiti, the four primary types of trafficking are forced begging, restavek, prostitution, and cross border trafficking in Dominican Republic.

Each of the U.S. government agencies shared of ways they are fighting trafficking domestically as well as resources they offer to international counterparts to combat trafficking worldwide. They also discussed the critical role of government in successfully prosecuting human trafficking cases and the importance of establishing a special unit focused on human trafficking cases. Several agencies highlighted the need for police and prosecutors to work together in the early stages of a case.

“We are grateful to the Human Trafficking Institute for hosting our Haitian delegation,” said Joan Conn, Founder and Executive Director of Restavek Freedom. “While in Washington DC, our Haitian delegation articulated their commitment to prioritizing anti-trafficking efforts and appreciated the willingness of U.S. government agencies to help build the capacity of law enforcement and legal professionals to prosecute human trafficking cases in Haiti.”

Others participants included: Joan Conn, Founder and Executive Director, Restavek Freedom; Christine Buchholz, Restavek Freedom, Board Vice President; and John Richmond and Kelli Ross with the Human Trafficking Institute.

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Kelli Ross

Kelli Ross

Kelli’s background is in journalism, public relations and peacebuilding. Prior to joining the Institute, she was the Communications Officer / Special Assistant to the Executive Director at Lwala Community Alliance in Nashville, Tennessee. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in Washington, D.C., directly supporting the Bureau’s Assistant Secretary; as director of communications for microfinance organization Five Talents in Vienna, Virginia; and as business reporter at The Jackson (TN) Sun. She has worked and studied in Kenya, South Sudan, Liberia, India, Peru, and Israel. Kelli holds a BA in communication arts from Union University and an MS in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.