As the United Nations commemorated Human Rights Day on December 10, it is worth looking at one of the most horrific human rights violations of all—the modern-day slavery of human trafficking.
The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the General Assembly in November 2000, is further supplemented by three protocols, one of which focuses on human trafficking, particularly as it affects women and children. It is from this that all UN work on human trafficking stems. Many member states—158—have ratified the protocol, and more nations are now incorporating anti-human trafficking legislation into their laws.
On European Anti-Human Trafficking Day in October, human rights experts from the UN, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Co-operation and Security in Europe gathered to condemn the practice of human trafficking and share their commitment to working together to end it. Joy Ezeilo, the UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, said in a press release, “Trafficking in itself is a grave violation of human rights which leads to further violations of fundamental rights.”
Ezeilo also noted, “The rights of victims should be the beating heart driving all efforts towards eradicating this phenomenon which leads thoughts of women, girls, men and boys into situations of profound exploitation and violence.” Victims of these human rights violations need not only to be protected and helped out of trafficking situations, but also to be re-integrated into society.
Also in October, a UN inter-agency report on human trafficking in the Greater Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia noted that victims lacked the support they needed to rebuild their lives once they have escaped the world of trafficking. The report, “After Trafficking: Experiences and Challenges in the (Re)integration of Trafficked Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-region,” notes the challenges faced by victims of trafficking. Children from Cambodian or Myanmar borderlands and rural Vietnam and China are trafficked to beg on the streets of big cities. Women and girls are sold into forced prostitution, domestic servitude or labor in sweatshops, construction sites and farms. In Cambodia, girls and young women are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
A Global Plan of Action and Trust Fund for Victims
Simone Monasebian of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told The InterDependent in a July interview that the UN has been making great strides in recent years to help stop human trafficking. In 2010, the General Assembly passed the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and instigated the production of a bi-annual report on the subject. It also established the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking the same year; Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore launched the fund, which helps civil society organizations offer direct assistance to victims, at UN Headquarters in New York.
Ilias Chatzis, chief of the Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section in the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch of UNODC, told The Interdependent “UNODC is mandated to be the custodian of the protocol specifically dealing with human trafficking.” The office also gives technical assistance to member states to help them integrate the protocol into their national policies, aids capacity building, provides support for international cooperation and interagency coordination and maintains a database of more than 900 human trafficking cases and outcomes. “Many more countries are now coming up with data [on human trafficking],” said Chatzis, “and we would like many more countries to participate.”
UNODC’s “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012” examines the patterns and flows of trafficking at global, regional and national levels and looks at the worldwide response to that trafficking, providing national analysis for 132 countries where human trafficking occurs.
Kristina Kangaspunta, chief of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons Unit at UNODC, told The Interdependent that the report “explore[s] the profiles of victims and perpetrators, the forms of exploitation used by traffickers, the geographical dimensions of the crime and how countries are responding to it.” It does so based on official data methodically collected from participating member states.
The 2012 global report was the first edition of the report to be published after the mandate from the global plan of action. “There were high expectations as well as a real risk of failure,” said Kangaspunta. “We worked hard to ensure that the data [were] solid and comprehensive, the analysis sound and the presentation clear…. the report is still being downloaded in huge numbers today, nearly a year after it was published.”
See more at: http://theinterdependent.com/