- Cameroonian couple - Evelyn and Joseph Djoumessi – last night found them at the receiving end of the law when a judge in Detroit in the United States sentenced them to 218 months and 60 months, respectively, after they were found guilty of human trafficking, the US Justice Ministry confirms.
The Cameroonians have secured permanent residence in the United States.
Judge Arthur Tarnow, who convicted the couple for conspiring to hold a young Cameroonian in involuntary servitude, also ordered the defendants to pay US $100,000 as compensation to the victim.
Evelyn and Djoumessi were respectively convicted by the jury and judge after the government presented evidence that between October 1996 and February 2000 they brought the Cameroonian girl to work in the US illegally to work against her will as a domestic servant in their Michigan home for four years, an act that violated federal laws of the US.
The US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated the case while attorneys from the Civil Rights Division (CRD) and the Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Michigan prosecuted the defendants.
The jury found that Evelyn Djoumessi had forced the girl to take care of her children and perform household chores without pay, beat her with a belt, a spoon, and a shoe in order to force her to comply with these demands.
Besides, the judge found her Joseph Djoumessi guilty of sexually abusing the 14-year-old girl.
"The promise of freedom has brought millions of people to these shores," Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the CRD, believes, adding, "the Djoumessi's had no right to deprive their victim of that freedom. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute and bring to justice those who victimize some of society's most vulnerable members."
Stephen J. Murphy, US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan says the “sentence gives fair warning to all human traffickers and any others who would ever seek to force an innocent teenager to become the equivalent of a personal slave: you will pay a steep price for your crime. This office will continue to pursue and aggressively prosecute such heinous offenses."
"It is a basic and fundamental human right to be free, and no child should ever be forced to live in a world of fear and involuntary servitude," Brian Moskowitz, a special agent in charge of immigration and customs enforcement office of investigations, Brian Moskowitz, concurs.
"Today's sentences are a testament to our solemn commitment to protect those who cannot protect themselves. While we cannot restore someone's childhood, we can bring their abusers to justice," he upholds.
Human trafficking prosecutions have been a top priority of the US government, particular President Bush and the Department of Justice. In the last six years, the number of human trafficking cases filed in the courts has increased by 600 percent. The US Department of Justice obtained a record high number of defendants charged and defendants convicted with human trafficking prosecutions in 2006.
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