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Darlene Pajarito

Philippines , Class of 2011

Darlene Pajarito

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Despite juggling an average case-load of 300 criminal cases, Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito has still managed to bring traffickers to justice.

Her anti-trafficking work began in 2004, when she was given a trafficking case, as an inexperienced attorney, that went to the Supreme Court. The anti-trafficking law, and the basis of the case, was less than a year old. The favorable decision set a useful precedent in the Philippines with regard to trafficking cases. After prosecuting that case, Ms. Pajarito became committed to the cause of anti-trafficking, and has diligently pursued prosecutorial efforts ever since. She won the first sex trafficking conviction in the Philippines in that first case, decided in 2005. She secured the first conviction of a labor trafficker in 2011. By 2011, she had secured convictions against five traffickers. This was more convictions than any other city in the Philippines.

She also has encouraged cooperative efforts, and educational programs. She has trained other prosecutors, law enforcement, governmental officers, and others on trafficking issues. Her efforts were able to rejuvenate the Regional Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking. She also was instrumental in establishing the Sea-Based and the Air-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Forces. Because of her successful record, she was asked to lead the Regional Task Force in Region IX in the Philippines in 2010. She was honored in 2011 as a "TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery" in recognition of her incredible efforts. In 2015, she was appointed as the Executive Director of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in The Philippines. 

In the 2014 TIP Report, the Philippines was listed as a Tier 2 country. It is a source country, primarily, for both sex trafficking and forced labor. It is also, much less significantly, a destination and a transit country. A large migrant work force of Filipinos outside of the country presents a highly vulnerable population for trafficking of all kinds. Internal trafficking is still a significant and important problem. Sex trafficking is common in urban areas, and around tourist areas, although it also occurs in more remote regions. Armed groups in the remote areas also engage in forced labor. While prosecutions remained strong, the government needs to improve in providing services for victims.

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