As part of their work to raise the issue of abusive and discriminatory policing practices in the U.S., advocates BPPP and SWOP-PHX sought to speak before the UN Human Rights Committee during the Committee’s review of U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Here is video of SWOP-PHX member giving her testimony–the text is below.
I’m Jaclyn Moskal Dairman with (SWOP)–the Sex Worker Outreach Project in Phoenix Arizona. I am here to speak about criminalization of sex workers, including under ostensible anti trafficking initiatives that primarily target people in poverty and disproportionately affect people of color. These are the people SWOP reaches out to. As a single mother, college student, and someone who grew up in poverty and homelessness I know what criminalization does to people in poverty. Criminalization is disastrous, particularly in states like Arizona, which has mandatory minimums and felony sentences for sex work. In 2009, a woman with a psychiatric disability sentenced to 27 months for prostitution, was killed by Arizona Department of Corrections when they left her in a cage in the desert with no water.
Recently, Monica Jones, a human rights defender with SWOP, was profiled and wrongfully arrested by Phoenix police because she is a transgender woman of color. She was arrested as part of an initiative called “Project ROSE,” and charged under a vague, overbroad anti-prostitution statute. While dubbed an “anti-trafficking initiative” Project ROSE actually targets people police believe are sex workers. To be clear: Project ROSE violates arrestee’s due process rights. Arrestees are denied council, even when they request a lawyer, and are made to cooperate in a police interview to potentially receive diversion, with no lawyer present. The interview is used to file charges against them if they don’t meet the diversion requirements, which most don’t, because they are too difficult for people in poverty to meet.
Monica Jones goes to trial this Friday. Since pleading not guilty, police have stopped her without cause, harassed and verbally abused her four times. If found guilty, as a trans woman, she will be housed in the men’s jail where she will face violence. Please call on the US to ensure that sex workers and people profiled as such are afforded their constitutional rights when arrested under ostensible “anti-trafficking” initiatives, and call on the government to monitor anti-trafficking funds to ensure they are not being used to violate civil rights. Thank you.
As Monica Jones prepares to go to trial, her story is being told not only at the UN but by media throughout the U.S.: