Indigent victims of labor and immigration abuse, debt bondage, employment discrimination, human trafficking or other criminal activities, regardless of nationality or race, now have another place to seek help: the Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law headed by former U.S. Labor ombudsman Pamela Brown.
“The mission is not over,” Brown, also a former CNMI attorney general, told Saipan Tribune yesterday.
The Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law, a non-profit corporation, is located in Suite 101 on the first floor of the Marianas Business Plaza (formerly Nauru Building) in Susupe.
Its mission is “to provide legal services and counseling to indigent nationals and aliens within the Pacific Region, which includes U.S. territories, Freely Associated States, and island nations, who are victims of immigration abuse, fraud in foreign labor contracting, trafficking in persons, labor abuse, debt bondage, peonage, employment discrimination, or other criminal activities.”
Despite requests to keep the U.S. Labor Ombudsman’s Office open at least until the end of the federalization transition period because of continued labor and immigration issues, the U.S. Department of the Interior closed the office at the end of fiscal year 2013 on Sept. 30. That left a void.
“POHL will fill the void caused by the closure of the ombudsman’s office. That’s a big void,” Brown added.
For 14 years, the U.S. Labor Ombudsman’s Office aided thousands of foreign workers in the CNMI who were victims of labor abuses, human trafficking, sex trafficking and illegal recruitment, among other things.
These people can now seek help from the Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law.
“The main difference between the two entities is that at the POHL, we are not just focusing on aliens but also indigent nationals,” Brown said.
Former translators/personnel at the U.S. Labor Ombudsman’s Office also moved to POHL, and are complemented by other volunteers who can help with translation.
POHL can be reached by calling (670) 234-9480, faxing (670) 234-9487 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is under construction but will be found soon at www.pohlaw.org.
Victims of labor and immigration abuse and fraud, as well as other crimes, could also seek help from other federal and local agencies and private entities such as the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies, and the CNMI Department of Public Safety.
Brown also opened The Law Offices of Pamela Brown LLC. It shares space with POHL at Marianas Business Plaza.
In a statement yesterday, The Law Offices of Pamela Brown said it will “provide legal services to businesses regarding corporate, immigration, employment, contracts, and discrimination laws, as well as related legal matters with the focus on [e]nsuring the corporation avoids litigation or other complications through compliance with federal and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [laws].”
The office will also provide legal services to nationals and aliens within the Pacific region, which includes U.S. territories, Freely Associated States, and island nations, in matters relating to immigration, labor, discrimination, and criminal matters.
“The staff is well trained in legal matters for which the office offers services. The focus of the office is to [e]nsure that our clients are in compliance with the law to avoid costly procedures and delays. Translation and interpretation services are also available in most of the languages spoken by the majority of the ethnic groups within the CNMI,” it said.
Hours of operation are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Appointments can be made by calling 670.234.9480 or faxing 670.234.9487.