Cybele K. Daley, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
12th International Symposium on Victimology
August 25, 2006
Thank you, Marlene [Young]. It's a pleasure to help close out this symposium.
I'd like to thank Ambassador Elam-Thomas for her words and for her commitment to victims' rights and services. Her presence reminds us that we are serious about helping victims, wherever they are.
I want to thank the World Society of Victimology for having me here, and for the great work it has done and continues to do on behalf of crime victims across the globe. I'd like to single out five exceptional people:
- Irvin Waller, the World Society's Secretary General. I want to thank Professor Waller for his leadership and vision.
- I want to recognize John Dussich. Mr. Dussich is a founder and former Secretary General of the World Society, and he has been one of the major forces behind this symposium. Thanks to him for his good work.
- I want to acknowledge Paul Friday. Mr. Friday is the Society's Treasurer, and I know he is behind every facet of its operations. Coming from a grant-making agency, I can fully appreciate the importance of his work in managing the budget.
- I'd also like to recognize Dame Helen Reeves. As head of Victim Support in England, Dame Helen has helped to advance victims' rights and improve victim services in her country and around the world. We are grateful for her leadership and commitment.
- And finally, I want to acknowledge Marlene Young. You can't be in any way involved with victim services and not know or be influenced by Marlene. Thanks to her many years of leadership, first at the National Organization for Victim Assistance and now with the World Society and the International Organization for Victim Assistance, she has helped to change the way we all think about victims and justice. I want to thank her for everything she has done over the years.
And speaking of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, I want to tip my hat to NOVA's current leadership and staff - Carol Lavery, NOVA's President; Jeannette Adkins, its Executive Director. And by the way, I am sad to hear that Jeannette will be leaving her post. She has done great work for NOVA, and we at OJP wish her well.
And I want to thank all the hard-working and committed people who manage NOVA's day-to-day affairs.
It's a privilege for me to speak to this international audience of victim advocates. Thanks to you, the needs and rights of victims have been integrated into justice systems throughout the world.
The Office of Justice Programs, through its Office for Victims of Crime, has had a long history of supporting and improving victim services.
We've helped to fund thousands of local victim assistance programs, as well as compensation programs in every state. We've helped to train countless victim service, criminal justice, and allied professionals. And we've been on the cutting edge of trends in victim services.
Over the years, we have greatly expanded the scope of our work on behalf of victims. We are, indeed, thinking globally. One of the best examples of our expanded mission is in serving victims of human trafficking. Every year, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are transported across international borders to be systematically abused, sexually exploited, and brutalized. As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States, where they are forced into prostitution, sweatshops, and domestic servitude. Most of these victims are women and children. Half are under the age of 18.
President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales are leading a coordinated attack against traffickers. Under the Attorney General's direction, the U.S. Attorneys and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division have taken the lead in prosecuting human trafficking cases. And our agency is supporting their efforts.
Our Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance support 32 anti-trafficking task forces. These intergovernmental task forces involve the U.S. Attorneys, and they are working to help law enforcement shut down trafficking operations. They also incorporate victim services. We have plans to expand the number of task forces in the near future.
We are also supporting programs that provide direct services to trafficking victims. One of those programs, Project Reach in Boston, provides mobile mental health assessment and crisis intervention services. Project Reach and another grantee, the YMCA of Houston, collaborated to provide emergency mental health services to more than 80 victims in a recent trafficking case. These programs and others are providing critical services to victims in their moments of greatest need.
Our expanding role also encompasses services to terrorism victims.
Through OVC, OJP has long provided aid to victims of mass violence and terrorism. Right along with NOVA and other groups, we deployed our resources to Oklahoma City in 1995. We responded to the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia the following year and to the embassy bombings in east Africa in 1998. We also helped victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing during the course of the investigation and then during the trial.
And we were there in the aftermath of 9/11. We helped coordinate critical assistance to victims at the attack sites, and we worked closely with the Department of Defense to set up a resource center in D.C. for families of the Pentagon victims. Here in the United States and abroad, we are doing everything we can to prevent another 9/11. The disruption of the airline plot two weeks ago is proof that we are meeting with success. But as the bombings in London and Madrid have shown, we still must be prepared in the event of another attack. And chief among our preparations must be ensuring a viable response to victims.
One of the steps we are taking is to create a program to compensate American citizens and employees of the U.S. government who are victimized abroad. As we all know, victims of international terrorism face unique challenges. They are far from home and from familiar support networks. They are confronted with language and cultural barriers. They often are not eligible for services rendered by foreign governments.
We also have seen that victims can be compensated differently depending on which state they are from. So that it's possible for two victims of the same overseas crime to receive different levels of assistance simply because they reside in different states.
Our International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program will remedy that by providing uniform benefits and procedures for U.S. citizens who are victimized abroad. The program will augment support that OVC already has provided under its Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program. Through that program, some 22,000 victims, family members, and crisis responders received support in the aftermath of 9/11.
As we work to address transnational issues such as terrorism and human trafficking, we continue to provide critical support in other areas. One of Attorney General Gonzales' chief concerns is protecting children. And in this area, the Office of Justice Programs plays a critical role.
OJP's Assistant Attorney General, Regina Schofield, is the National AMBER Alert Coordinator. In that capacity, she works with state AMBER Alert coordinators, law enforcement and transportation officials, broadcasters, and public and private organizations to improve our response to child abductions.
AMBER Alert was created 10 years ago as an emergency response system for abducted children. Two-hundred-eighty-nine children have been safely recovered and returned to their families in that time. Some 90 percent of those recoveries have occurred since President Bush called for national coordination less than four years ago.
We are working to extend AMBER's value across our borders. Our AMBER Alert working group now includes representatives from both the Mexican police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And we've been talking extensively about ways to make AMBER Alert more adaptable to international abductions. This topic was an important part of the discussions at our 2006 national AMBER Alert Conference last month in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition, we are working with the State Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to assist parents whose children are illegally taken across U.S. borders by a spouse or biological parent. This program has helped to re-unite almost 200 kids with their custodial parents.
Of course, these days, children are not just vulnerable in the streets of their neighborhoods. They are also under threat in the avenues of cyberspace.
An OJP-funded report just released by the University of New Hampshire and NCMEC tells us that one child in every seven receives a sexual solicitation or approach online. One child in 33 is the object of an aggressive solicitation. That means that he or she gets a call, mail, money, or gifts from a pedophile, or is somehow asked to meet the solicitor.
A separate study of child pornographers shows that most pornographers have images of prepubescent children and of graphic depictions of sexual activity. And one in five has images of sexual violence to children.
We're not talking about harmless expressions of poor taste. These are portraits of shocking crimes against the youngest members of our society. And sadly, this practice is widespread and growing.
Project Safe Childhood is a Justice Department-wide initiative aimed at preventing the online exploitation and abuse of children.
It has two components: First, it's designed to help families take precautions against online predators. It includes a program to raise awareness of the threat of cyber-enticement, and provides tools and information to parents and kids to help them report possible violations.
Its second component involves investigation and enforcement. Under our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, we support 46 intergovernmental task forces across the country.
The task forces have played a critical role in stopping Internet criminal activity targeting children. Since the inception of the program in 1998, ICAC task forces have made more than 7,300 arrests. In 2005 alone, ICAC investigations led to more than 1,600 arrests.
These task forces have been pivotal in shutting down online operations that prey upon the young. The Illinois ICAC Task Force was involved in closing down an international child pornography ring two months ago. Among the thousands of images that had been traded were streaming videos of live molestations. Twenty-seven defendants from four countries have been charged in that case.
While these task forces are effective, we have much to do to protect children.
Project Safe Childhood will build on the success of the ICAC Task Forces and other efforts by supporting prevention, enforcement, and victim service efforts throughout the country.
These are just some of our major efforts to support victims both at home and abroad. And they are areas in which we look to you for guidance.
President Bush once said that those who work on behalf of victims stand out as "models of compassion and integrity." You do life-saving work, but it isn't only your work that matters. The example you set by leading lives of devotion and service means just as much. I thank you all for being standard-bearers of those high ideals, and I applaud your passion for justice.
Thank you and God Bless.