Meet John Cotton Richmond, Co-Founder of the Human Trafficking Institute

At Starfish Project, we want our community to be aware and educated about the issue of human trafficking. We are delighted to bring you this interview with John Cotton Richmond, Co-Founder and Director at the Human Trafficking Institute!  

Meet John Cotton Richmond, who has been working on the front lines to combat human trafficking around the world for over 15 years. He has been named a “Prosecutor of the Year,” an expert on trafficking by the UN, and “every trafficker’s worst nightmare” by the head of the FBI’s human trafficking unit. When he isn’t working at the Human Trafficking Institute, John is making memories and constructing adventures with his three amazing children and his Lovely and Talented wife.

John Richmond at the Trafficking in Persons Specialized Prosecutor Training in Kampala, Uganda

What is the Human Trafficking Institute, and what do you do there?

The Human Trafficking Institute works to decimate trafficking by stopping the traffickers who commit this terrible crime. We are working alongside partner countries to develop and train specialized human trafficking units. Right now we are working in Belize and Uganda. I lead and support the Human Trafficking Institute’s international projects, research and thought leadership, and organizational development.

John Cotton Richmond leading a session during the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Specialized Prosecutor Training in Kampala, Uganda, in October 2017.

What do you wish everyone knew about human trafficking?

People should know that human trafficking is not only a violation of a person’s fundamental right to be free, it is also an economic crime. Traffickers are motivated by money. We can catch traffickers by following the money and stop them from harming others.

What gives you hope in the human trafficking space?

Hope springs from the fact that human trafficking can be stopped. We are not powerless to confront this surge and we are not relegated to merely mitigating the consequences of trafficking. We can stop trafficking by stopping traffickers. Only then can we deal with survivors underlying vulnerabilities as they thrive into their futures.

John Cotton Richmond at a bus stop in Belize

How do you deal with drawing close to abuse and trauma?

I regularly spend time with victims and hear their painful stories. I also spend time with traffickers to better understand their crime. The weight of victims’ trauma can be overwhelming if we are not processing it in community. The key for me is know that I am responsible to do my part to stop traffickers and trust that others will rise up to do their part. This work is not about one person, one organization, or one strategy. All of us are necessary for freedom to flourish.


You can learn more about John Cotton Richmond on Twitter and on Facebook.

The Grace Lauren Earrings were named in honor of John Cotton Richmond’s daughter, Grace Lauren Richmond.