Children account for almost a third of all people trafficked globally – new UN report

Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy

12 December 2012 – Some 27 per cent of all victims of human trafficking officially detected around the world between 2007 and 2010 are children, up seven per cent from the period 2003 to 2006, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Human trafficking requires a forceful response founded on the assistance and protection for victims, rigorous enforcement by the criminal justice system, a sound migration policy and firm regulation of the labour markets,” said UNODC’s Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, in a news release on the findings of the agency’s 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

The findings include an increase in the number of girl victims, who make up two thirds of all trafficked children. Girls now constitute 15 to 20 per cent of the total number of all detected victims, including adults, whereas boys comprise about 10 per cent, according to the report, which is based on official data supplied by 132 countries.

The Global Report provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at the regional, national and global levels, based on trafficking cases detected between 2007 and 2010, or more recent cases. It also includes a chapter on the worldwide response to trafficking in persons, and presents a national-level analysis for each of the 132 countries covered in this year’s edition.

The report arose in 2010, with the General Assembly’s adoption of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. In the framework of the Global Plan of Action, the Assembly mandated UNODC to publish a Global Report on Trafficking in Persons every two years, starting this year.

Within the report’s findings, UNODC noted, there are significant regional variations. While the share of detected child victims is 68 per cent in Africa and the Middle East, and 39 per cent in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, that proportion diminishes to 27 per cent in the Americas and 16 per cent in Europe and Central Asia.

The vast majority of trafficked persons are women, accounting for 55 to 60 per cent of victims detected globally. However, the total proportion of women and girls together soars to about 75 per cent, with men constituting about 14 per cent of the total number of detected victims. Nonetheless, this is not a uniform picture as one in four detected victims is a male.

According to UNODC, Mr. Fedotov acknowledged the current gaps in knowledge about this crime and the need for comprehensive data about offenders, victims and trafficking flows. Still, the agency said, the number of trafficking victims is estimated to run into the millions.

Victims of 136 countries were detected in 118 countries between 2007 and 2010, during which period, 460 different flows were identified. Around half of all trafficking took place within the same region with 27 per cent occurring within national borders – one exception is the Middle East, where most detected victims are East and South Asians.

The report finds that trafficking victims from East Asia have been detected in more than 60 countries, making them the most geographically dispersed group around the world. Victims from the largest number of origin countries were found in Western and Central Europe.

There are significant regional differences in the detected forms of exploitation, according to the report. Countries in Africa and in Asia generally intercept more cases of trafficking for forced labour, while sexual exploitation is somewhat more frequently found in Europe and in the Americas. Additionally, trafficking for organ removal was detected in 16 countries around the world.

The 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons also raises concerns about low conviction rates – 16 per cent of reporting countries did not record a single conviction for trafficking in persons between 2007 and 2010.

Related to the report’s topic, UNODC noted that 154 countries have ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children – of which the UN agency is the guardian.

“Significant progress has been made in terms of legislation, as 83 per cent of countries now have a law that criminalizes trafficking in persons in accordance with the Protocol,” UNODC added in the news release.

Adopted by the General Assembly in 2000 and entering into force in 2003, the Protocol is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons. The aim behind the definition is to facilitate convergence in national approaches with regard to the establishment of domestic criminal offences that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases.

An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights.


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