Skip to main content

Post by: Esther Neds

Traffickers Acquitted

My name is Esther Neds and I am a 3L working as a clerk for the Center for Global Justice. This semester I have been doing research for International Justice Mission Eastern Europe.

As I was researching human trafficking prosecutions and convictions across Eastern Europe, I came across a heartbreaking case. The case involved a human trafficking gang based in the village of Tandarei in Eastern Europe. The gang would tell families living in poverty that for a fee, they could send their children abroad, and then send the children across the country to beg and steal. The group would then charge the parents interest for the cost of sending the child until the parents were deeply in debt, forcing the parents to send their other children to pay off their debts. In one case, a father attempted to sell his 3-month-old child to the gang on three separate occasions.[1] One of the police investigators estimated that the group may have trafficked 10,000 children since 2002, with each child earning about 160,000 euros a year for the gang.

In 2010, in a joint effort with the UK, police stormed the group’s headquarters in Tandarei and arrested 25 of the men. These men were charged with trafficking of minors, running an organized crime group, money laundering and firearms violations. Due to either negligence or bad faith, the court proceedings stretched into almost 10 years. By the time the case got to trial, there had been 52 hearings and many of the charges had expired because their statutes of limitations had run. Many of the witnesses and victims were no longer willing to testify. In February 2019, the court acquitted all 25 men and the acquittal was affirmed by the appellate court later that year.

Stories like this one are heartbreaking and discouraging, but I hope that hearing about such a colossal failure to protect these victims will inspire us to fight even harder for those the vulnerable. When state actors fail to do justice and uphold the rule of law, I am grateful for NGOs who will hold them accountable and tell these countries, “Do better.” 

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.

[1] Ani Sandu, Blind Justice for Romania’s Trafficked Roma Children, ERSTE Foundation (February 5, 2020)