- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2007

The founder of an Arlington-based Christian ministry that conducts stings against sex-trafficking sites in Third World countries will be honored next week with an award for his human rights work.

Gary A. Haugen, of Sterling, Va., will receive a National Leadership award on April 18 from the National Presbyterian Church’s Center for Leadership for his part in founding the 10-year-old International Justice Mission (IJM).

He will share the award with former Rep. Linda Smith, Washington Republican, founder of Shared Hope International, an anti-sex trafficking group with headquarters in Arlington and Vancouver, Wash. The awards will be presented at a $250-a-plate dinner at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Northwest.

Mr. Haugen also was honored by Prison Fellowship International at a ceremony Jan. 13, when that group’s founder, Charles W. Colson, linked Mr. Haugen’s mission with the work of 19th century abolitionist William Wilberforce.

“In Wilberforce’s England, the slave trade endured for so long because its horrors were far removed from the eyes of everyday people, most of whom had never even seen a slave,” Mr. Colson said. “The success of Wilberforce’s movement largely hinged on how he and his fellow laborers made the invisible horrors of the trade visible to the world.

“Like his predecessor, William Wilberforce, Mr. Haugen is committed to bringing public awareness to the ongoing needs for justice across the world,” Mr. Colson said.

In 1994, while working as a lawyer for the Justice Department, Mr. Haugen was sent to the United Nations to oversee an investigation into the Rwandan genocide. After visiting Kibuye, Rwanda, he was convinced that Christians needed to do more to confront worldwide injustice.

Mr. Haugen learned through research that the 800,000 people massacred in Rwanda paled compared to a worldwide sex-trafficking business that victimizes an estimated 1 million children a year.

He founded IJM in 1997 with the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation. A member of the Falls Church Episcopal Church in the city of Falls Church, Mr. Haugen based the organization on Christian principles of justice for the oppressed, widows and orphans.

IJM employs attorneys, former police officers and social workers in such countries as Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia to liberate child sex slaves and free adults forced into some form of servitude. Its 2005 tax statement listed contributions totaling $10.8 million.

IJM is best known for its dramatic sting operations at slave market sites, one of which appeared in a March 2003 expose of Cambodian brothels on NBC’s “Dateline.” The global trade in “rape for profit,” Mr. Haugen told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in January 2005, “only flourishes in places where local law enforcement is complicit with it.”

Typically, IJM gets its information from what he terms “faith-based ministries” — or missionaries — around the world.

“Accordingly, we deploy criminal investigators to infiltrate the brothels, use surveillance technology to document where the children are being held, then identify secure police contacts who will conduct raids with us to get the children out,” he told Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs in April 2003.

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