Security Council urges action against human trafficking, sexual abuse by ISIL and other terror groups

The Mo Chit bus station in Bangkok, Thailand, which is an active hub for human traffickers. Photo: UNICEF/Jim Holmes

16 December 2015 – The Security Council today called on all United Nations Member States to do everything in their power to combat human trafficking, especially for sexual purposes, citing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Boko Haram as prime perpetrators.

“The Security Council notes the particular impact that trafficking in persons in situations of armed conflict has on women and children, including increasing their vulnerability to sexual and gender based violence,” the 15-member body said in a Presidential Statement adopted during a discussion on human trafficking in situations of conflict.

It referred specifically to ISIL’s trafficking in Yazidis and its abuse of international humanitarian law and human rights, as well as such violations by the LRA in central Africa and the Nigerian-based Islamist Boko Haram group “for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour,” saying such actions in armed conflict may constitute war crimes.

“Let us first be clear what we are discussing today: human trafficking is slavery in the modern age,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Council. “Slavery is not just a past abomination. Millions of people are living as slaves or in slave-like conditions as we speak today, in the year 2015.

“Most of those trafficked are vulnerable women and children deceived or abducted into a life of suffering, exploitation, torture and servitude. This ruthless practice has become a global industry and it must be stopped,” he said, also noting that thousands of men and boys have been forcibly conscripted by the LRA.

“There are more people displaced today than at any time since the Second World War. Millions more are caught up in conflict, unable to flee. These human beings are exposed to a wide range of human rights violations, not least trafficking. They are sold, they are trafficked for sexual enslavement, for prostitution, for illegal adoption, for slave labour, for criminality or recruitment as child soldiers.”

The Council statement called on Member States to fully implement all relevant resolutions, to improve implementation of applicable legal obligations to criminalize, prevent, and otherwise combat trafficking in persons, and to ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

“Horrifying tales have emerged of how women and children are treated in captivity,” Mr. Eliasson continued, stressing that their ordeal does not end once they are freed. “Even when captivity ends, suffering continues. Indeed, the scars of such violence last a lifetime.”

“Victims, fortunate enough to be freed, need assistance to regain their rights and dignity to reintegrate into society. They must be given a chance to take back their lives and build new futures,” he added, urging Member States and others, to contribute to UN Trust Fund for the Victims of Trafficking in Persons.


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