Speakers in General Assembly Stress Need for Greater International Cooperation to Combat Transnational Human Traffickers as High-Level Meeting Continues
Speakers in General Assembly Stress Need for Greater International Cooperation to Combat Transnational Human Traffickers as High-Level Meeting Continues
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
78th & 79th Meetings (AM & PM)
Speakers in General Assembly Stress Need for Greater International Cooperation
to Combat Transnational Human Traffickers as High-Level Meeting Continues
Given its transnational nature, combating the scourge of human trafficking required utmost international cooperation and coordination, several speakers said in the General Assembly today as it continued its high-level meeting on the appraisal of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Argentina’s representative pointed out that organized crime networks were, in many cases, transnational organizations and dismantling them would require combined operations involving the security forces of regional countries. Her counterpart from Kenya noted that, despite enhanced efforts to address the “push and pull factors” that allowed traffickers to thrive, “the cunning and criminal ways of the perpetrators” seemed to keep them one step ahead, in particular because regional efforts remained uncoordinated and disjointed.
Morocco’s representative said that prevention and the eventual eradication of trafficking demanded that attention fall on its deeper causes, such as poverty, illiteracy and social exclusion, expressing concern at the threat that transnational criminal networks posed to fragile States, especially those emerging from conflict. Indeed, human trafficking thrived in poverty, where respect for the rule of law and human rights was at its weakest, said the delegate from Barbados. “We live in an interconnected world”, in which no country was immune, she said, emphasizing that the Global Plan of Action had the potential to “break the cycle” by focusing on prevention, protection of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and forging partnerships.
Delegates said that strengthening national legal and institutional frameworks called for the universal ratification and implementation of international instruments, including the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols. It was also critical to strengthen coordination among origin and destination countries. Iran’s representative said that demand from developed countries, especially for trafficked women and children, must be “addressed and suppressed”. Concerned at the increasing numbers of trafficked human organs and tissue, he said that economic poverty, lack of security, especially in war zones, discrimination and marginalization, as well as the current financial crisis, contributed to the problem.
Libya’s representative emphasized that human trafficking was a series of criminal acts, rather than a single crime. It entailed tricking the victims, illegally taking them to another country, and exploiting them, which in turn led to money-laundering and other crimes. To fight trafficking, the economic and social circumstances of origin countries must be taken into account and ameliorated through job opportunities, cross-border cooperation on security, firm measures against traffickers and the raising of awareness among vulnerable communities, he said.
Spain’s delegate said that, as a favoured destination, his country had welcomed an unprecedented 6 million migrants in the past decade alone, compelling it to confront human trafficking on a scale previously unknown in Spain. It was of critical importance to establish mechanisms, tools and collaboration procedures in origin countries that would allow the detection and prevention of potential trafficking victims before they arrived in destination countries.
Many delegates supported an approach that would address the links between discrimination, gender-based violence and human trafficking, saying that combating sexual exploitation was a fight against gender-based violence. Botswana’s representative expressed concern at the persistent and prevalent trafficking of women and girls, as well as the increase in the number of child victims, due to his country’s geographic location, which made it a hub for traffickers. The absence of legislation criminalizing the trade undermined Government efforts while the lack of capacity to enforce anti-trafficking laws posed a challenge for many States.
Malaysia’s representative said it was deeply concerning that women accounted for almost 60 per cent of all trafficked victims detected globally, followed by children at 27 per cent. His colleague from Romania recounted her encounter with a girl trafficked from her own country at 17 and forced into prostitution by a pimp who had beaten her with “numbing regularity”, constantly raping and torturing her in the “violent, horrific labyrinths of her ordeal”.
Viet Nam’s representative said the root social causes of trafficking must be tackled in parallel with other anti-crime efforts, including prevention and assistance for victims. Awareness campaigns targeting the main risk groups through domestic and international media, outreach, and educational materials were critically important, he said. Similarly, Uzbekistan’s representative said that citizens of his country were warned of the dangers of trafficking through booklets and banners in areas with heavy automobile traffic, train stations and airports.
Colombia’s representative said that prosecutors in his country received specialized training to ensure that they could identify the appropriate prosecution tools. He described Colombia’s initiatives to help victims, saying that systems were in place to ensure they were not subjected to discrimination. It was also vital to strengthen labour laws, he said, stressing the power of companies to help tackle human trafficking.
Also speaking today were representatives of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Italy, Serbia, South Africa, Bahrain, Germany, Australia, Russian Federation, Israel, Chile (on behalf of the Human Security Network), Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Venezuela, Greece, Lesotho, Ukraine, Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Albania, Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Cuba, Tunisia, Benin, Jamaica, Montenegro, El Salvador, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Turkey, Croatia, India and Burkina Faso.
The General Assembly meet again at tomorrow to conclude the high-level meeting.
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its high-level meeting on the appraisal of the Uni1ted Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. For more information, see Press Release GA/11369 of 13 May.
VILAYAT EYVAZOV, National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, said his country was a party to several international legal instruments aimed at combating human trafficking. It had undertaken several measures to implement the relevant United Nations convention with a particular focus on eliminating the conditions facilitating human trafficking and illegal immigration. Anyone found organizing trafficking was subject to prosecution and border control was being strengthened. Trafficking routes were being identified and biometric documents for immigration and emigration were being instituted. As part of a multidimensional effort, an office established to combat trafficking offered a hotline for victims and a fund to help them. The emphasis was on improving international cooperation, especially with foreign security services, he said, calling for the strengthening of the international legal basis for cooperation on trafficking and in identifying criminals.
PAULA HONISCH, National Director and Coordinator of the Interministerial Council on Human Trafficking, Ministry of Security, Argentina, said her country sought to ensure effective prosecution for human trafficking and protection for victims. The State provided free assistance to victims through specialized agencies. However, it was very challenging to design effective anti-trafficking policies without reliable information that facilitated proper diagnosis of situations and proper review of policy effectiveness. Indeed, the creation and dissemination of various complaint channels had allowed citizens to report, freely and anonymously, instances of trafficking. Organized crime networks were, in many cases, transnational organizations and their dismantling would be impractical without combined operations involving the security forces of other countries in the region, she said. It was for that reason that Argentina underlined the importance of cooperation at the regional and international levels, particularly the level of MERCOSUR, or the Southern Common Market.
SIRODJIDIN M. ASLOV ( Tajikistan) said his country had adopted international instruments, as well as national laws, to address human trafficking in 22 legislative areas. Since 2006 the Government had created comprehensive national programmes to prevent and overcome trafficking-related crimes and to protect victims. It had also crafted policies aimed at ensuring greater protection for vulnerable groups, improving technical aspects, protecting victims’ rights and improving relevant legislation. In addition to the Committee to Protect the Rights of Children, there were two active centres supporting and protecting victims, one of which was dedicated to children. They provided psychological and medical support, he said.
ANTONIO BERNARDINI ( Italy) said that the complex nature of human trafficking called for a multidimensional strategy in tackling it at the domestic, regional and international levels. Italy’s comprehensive immigration law, adopted in 1998, covered trafficking with a general focus on prevention. The legal framework in place was victim-centred and human rights-based, as well as sensitive to women and children. Many people had taken advantage of it since 2003, he said. Italy had funded International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Labour Organization (ILO) programmes to assist victims of trafficking and, with China and Nigeria, was leading technical assistance programmes that sought to tackle trafficking. A major investment had been made to assist unaccompanied foreign minors through a special fund by which municipalities could help to ease them into their communities.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ (Serbia) said that, in order to address the changing nature of human trafficking, his country’s new National Strategy to Prevent and Suppress Human Trafficking and Protect its Victims would provide a more continued and comprehensive response to the crime, including better prevention, improved assistance and protection of human rights of victims, among other initiatives. In addition, several media campaigns, educational workshops and training programmes were being organized to raise public awareness, particularly among young people, women and children.
KAREN HOSKING ( South Africa), associating herself with the African Group, expressed concern over the growth of trafficking in human organs and in persons for purposes of organ removal. The international response should be strengthened through the development of global standards to combat such crimes. In that context, she underlined the urgent need for data collection to help assess the extent of the activities in order to facilitate appropriate interventions. Furthermore, the four core pillars — prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership — should be incorporated into national legislation. She concluded by saying that South Africa was working with regional and continental partners to tackle the challenge through a human rights-based approach.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI ( Bahrain) said his country had made every effort to raise awareness of human trafficking among its national, as well as foreign, residents. In 2009, the Government had granted work permits to foreign nationals and foreign workers, and it was tackling the issue with “a great deal of transparency given what was at stake”. Following a decree issued by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, a committee comprising Government and civil society actors had been created to combat human trafficking, and a number of people were available around the clock to receive victims’ complaints, he said. It was critically important to strengthen coordination among origin and destination countries, and to offer effective training to officials involved in combating human trafficking.
KARSTEN DIETHELM GEIER ( Germany) said that, while coordinating efforts was of crucial importance, there was no need to duplicate existing successes, mechanisms and processes. Germany co-facilitated a number of human rights remedies for human trafficking and would host an event to raise further awareness. Outlining a number of projects that his country had funded and supported in support of the fight against human trafficking, he described the phenomenon as a blatant violation of the dignity of victims, especially woman and children.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) called for a comprehensive response targeting activities across the trafficking cycle. Working domestically, regionally and internationally, Australia had committed more than $150 million to that end. Further, strong criminal justice responses were critical to deterrence and prevention, he emphasized, noting that the relevant Australian laws provided for severe penalties. The new Anti-Slavery Initiative, introduced in March, aimed to ensure that no company tainted by human trafficking, slavery or forced labour anywhere in the supply chain could supply goods or services to the Government. As for regional efforts, Australia’s $50 million investment to establish the Australia-Asia Programme to Combat Trafficking in Persons would provide technical assistance to help strengthen criminal justice in South-East Asia. Emphasizing that more must be done in the areas of protection and support to survivors, he said that, building on its $200,000 contribution to the Global Voluntary Trust Fund, Australia had granted $70,000 to support on-the-ground humanitarian, legal and financial assistance to survivors.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV ( Russian Federation) said the fight against human trafficking required a focus on both demand and supply. It was also essential to eliminate its root causes. Strict measures must be taken against the criminal groups organizing the illegal trade or their intermediaries in perpetrating it. Expressing appreciation for regional efforts, he stressed the importance of the coordinating role played by the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He noted the contributions of non-governmental organizations, adding that law-enforcement agencies in all countries were of key importance in enforcing the Global Plan of Action.
KOKI MULI GRIGNON ( Kenya), associating herself with the African Group, noted that the region was becoming the “epicentre of human trafficking”. Kenya had legislative, policy and programmatic measures in place to address the “push and pull factors” that allowed trafficking to thrive and was working at the regional level to map out strategies to combat cross-border crime, she said. Despite enhanced efforts to fight trafficking, however, “the cunning and criminal ways of the perpetrators” seemed to be one step ahead, particularly since those efforts remained “uncoordinated and disjointed”. She proposed that the General Assembly establish a task force to combat trafficking, in line with the Global Plan of Action.
RON PROSOR ( Israel) said human trafficking should outrage every person because it debased human beings. “It should outrage every community because it erodes societies, and it should outrage every nation because it funds organized crime and threatens public safety,” he said. Israel was fighting trafficking through prevention, prosecution and protection. Among other efforts, it had introduced tough anti-trafficking legislation in 2006, invested in intelligence and law enforcement to identify trafficking networks, and required convicted traffickers to compensate victims financially. The Government had introduced a network of services to help locate trafficked persons and provide support to victims. He recalled that there had been some 3,000 cases of human trafficking in Israel 10 years ago, but now there were only a handful. That success was due largely to partnerships with non-governmental organizations, which were critical to every phase of the process. Israel also worked with international partners, and would jointly host an international seminar on human trafficking in August.
JOYCE BOURNE ( Barbados) called human trafficking a vicious cycle that affected women disproportionately. It thrived in poverty, where respect for the rule of law and human rights was at its weakest. Recognizing that “we live in an interconnected world”, she said no country was immune, but the Global Plan of Action had the potential to “break the cycle” by focusing on prevention, protection of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and forging partnerships. At the national level, Barbados had established a dedicated sex crimes and human trafficking unit within the police force to investigate cases. In addition, immigration officials, police officers and the coast guard had benefited from specialized training through technical cooperation programmes. In small and vulnerable developing countries such as Barbados and others of the Caribbean, it was crucial to provide technical cooperation and international assistance to build and strengthen national capacities, she said.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, an informal group of States advocating a holistic approach to security, said that although the State was the main contributor to human security, other actors, such as the United Nations, international organizations and civil society, should also contribute to a comprehensive and coordinated response to human trafficking. Women and girls, who accounted for 75 per cent of victims, needed particular attention in such efforts. Highlighting the various instruments available in the struggle, such as the Trust Fund, the Global Plan of Action and the Trafficking Protocol, he emphasized that the international community must “make better use of these tools to impact significantly the daily lives of people on the ground”.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) called for “multi-pronged cooperation” on human trafficking, with an institutional, as well as a “victim-centred and dignity-based”, approach to tackling it. Having realized the importance of data, sound policies and coordination in achieving success, Kazakhstan had amended several existing laws and drafted new legislation, she said. The Government was actively developing cooperation with origin and destination countries, as well as with United Nations agencies and domestic non-governmental organizations. Kazakhstan was a party to all the key international treaties in the field, and had taken significant bilateral steps, notably with Belarus and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and several others, to tackle trafficking in the wider context of drug smuggling, terrorism and other organized crimes. Several ministries worked together and in partnership with non-governmental organizations, while the Ministry of Internal Affairs was cooperating with IOM to improve the exchange of data, technical support and guidance, she said.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said trafficking victims must play a central role in discussions on the subject. Noting the significant progress made in establishing global legal standards to combat the problem, he expressed hope that the Palermo Protocol would soon enjoy universal adherence. However, more must be done to implement those standards, he stressed, noting, in particular, that “criminal accountability lags decisively behind and far too often impunity prevails”. There was a need for better coordination, a robust mechanism to review domestic implementation of international legal standards, and criminal justice systems sensitive to the situation of victims. From Liechtenstein’s successful awareness-raising, victim-counselling and other activities, the importance of improved engagement by all stakeholders became clear. It was also important to address the root causes of human trafficking, but most importantly, increased attention must be paid to the vulnerabilities of victims.
GUILLERMO ENRIQUE MORENO ZAPATA ( Venezuela) said it was alarming that such a serious crime could be the most profitable after the smuggling of arms and drugs. According to the reasoning of “wild capitalism”, people were “considered in line with profit and the accumulation of wealth”. Constructing a fair and egalitarian world was vital in order for human beings to be regarded as “protagonists”, rather than profits, he said. The crime of trafficking had been “defined on the books” in Venezuela and the national Government planned to further implement a policy of social justice so as to achieve an inclusive and participatory society through the enjoyment of social, economic, and political rights. It was vital to make every effort to eliminate inequality, which tended to promote crime. Reducing violence against women and providing them with protection was imperative, he stressed, outlining the numerous instruments available for combating gender-based violence. On that matter, Venezuela was one of the most advanced in Latin America, he declared.
MICHEL SPINELLIS (Greece) acknowledging the importance of concerted international cooperation, pointed out that the smuggling of illegal migrants, forced labour and trafficking for sexual exploitation were usually interconnected and called for a coordinated approach if lasting results were to be achieved. Greece’s victim-centred National Action Plan entailed reinforcing the legal and operational frameworks to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, he said. Aspects of those actions included the collection and processing of better data, continuous training of field professionals and health-care providers and raising awareness of the “demand side” of trafficking. The global economic crisis had exacerbated the problem, he said, with traffickers targeting impoverished regions and taking advantage of the increased vulnerability of women and children.
MAFIROANE MOTANYANE ( Lesotho) said the challenge before the international community was translating concerted efforts to combat human trafficking into reality, since the crime was of such a large magnitude that no single country could deal with it alone. After having become a signatory to the Trafficking Protocol, Lesotho had put into effect the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act No. 1, which prohibited the diverse manifestations of trafficking. Through the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Government had established a multisectoral committee with the aim of ensuring, among other things, the protection, return and reintegration of victims, and to contribute to the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) 10-year Strategic Plan in thwarting human trafficking.
YURIY VITRENKO ( Ukraine) said that almost 120,000 citizens of his country had been “seriously affected” by human trafficking over the last decade. Ukrainians had been identified as victims in 67 States globally, illustrating the transnational nature of the crime. Among the many national initiatives and laws launched to address it was the new Airline Ambassadors International project, which would train airline crews to identify potential victims. In addition, a hotline would be set up at the Ministry of Social Policy, which played the role of a national coordinator on the issue, to receive calls from transportation sector employees and facilitate law-enforcement intervention to rescue victims before they disappeared with the traffickers.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI ( Libya), endorsing the statement by the African Group, said that, while no trafficking-related crime had been recorded in his country, it was a transit hub, where there must be victims. The Libyan authorities were grappling with the issue on the basis of law and international conventions, and in cooperation with other States. Human trafficking was a series of criminal acts, rather than a single crime, and it entailed tricking the victims, illegally taking them to another country, and exploiting them, which in turn led to money-laundering and other crimes. To fight trafficking, the economic and social circumstances of origin countries must be taken into account and ameliorated through job opportunities, cross-border cooperation on security, firm measures against traffickers and the raising of awareness among vulnerable communities, he said. The Global Plan of Action facilitated the implementation of procedures at all levels and across sectors, and strengthened logistical and regulatory frameworks to improve coordination among stakeholders.
HASSAN EL MKHANTAR ( Morocco), associating himself with the African Group, stressed the threat posed by transnational criminal networks to fragile States, especially those emerging from long years of conflict. Outlining Morocco’s national efforts to implement the Global Action Plan, he said they included institutional, legislative and operational improvements, as well as initiatives to promote socio-economic development. There had been a significant decrease in the flows of trafficked persons from Morocco, he said, stressing that prevention and eventual eradication demanded that attention fall on the deeper causes of trafficking, such as poverty, illiteracy and social exclusion. Morocco’s National Plan of Action for Children paid particular attention to street children, increasing support for centres, training and psychosocial support.
DILYOR KHAKIMOV ( Uzbekistan) said his country had acceded to the majority of international instruments focused on combating and eliminating prostitution, child pornography and other forms of trade in human beings. On the national level, Uzbekistan had created appropriate legislative bases and, more recently, had adopted a special law that would play an increasingly preventative role in combating human trafficking, he said. Especially important was spreading awareness through booklets and other educational materials. Banners warning of the dangers of human trafficking were used in areas with heavy automobile traffic, in train stations and at airports. New laws focused on the rehabilitation of victims in order to “bring them back to life”, and provide them with legal and medical assistance, as well as help in seeking work.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) cited his country’s National Plan of Action on the Elimination of Trafficking in Women and Children and the National Plan of Action on the Elimination of Commercial Exploitation of Children, two measures put in place within the framework of the Law on the Countering of Trafficking in Persons. For more than 10 years, Indonesia had co-chaired, with Australia, the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, providing opportunities to share best practices and identify needed capacity-building programmes. He stressed the importance of prevention, early detection and protection of victims.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said human trafficking was rooted in the social and economic conditions in victims’ origin countries. Discrimination against women and children, as well as “cruel indifference” to human suffering, fuelled the ignoble and criminal trade. On the national level, Pakistan had adopted an ordinance incorporating a role for civil society to work with law-enforcement agencies for the rehabilitation of victims. To address challenges on the international level, he suggested raising awareness, fostering global partnerships, continuing efforts to criminalize trafficking, and ensuring the provision of humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims.
KYAW TIN ( Myanmar) said that because his country shared more than 3,800 miles of land boundary with five neighbouring countries, its porous borders, relatively small population and vast arable land area had become “a magnet to the multitude”, with many becoming irregular and undocumented migrants in Myanmar. At the same time, many citizens were working abroad as migrant workers. To protect the former’s labour rights, the Government had issued temporary passports to protect them from exploitation. Other measures to prevent sexual or labour trafficking were being taken as well, he said, noting the recent establishment of a reception camp in the border town of Myawaddy, which received and rendered assistance to liberated trafficking victims. In 2012, a total of 20,963 men and 7,570 women had been received, and 61 children had then been returned to their parents.
SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) pointed out the adverse effects of human trafficking on the development, political stability, social and cultural values of all nations. It had become more sophisticated and complex, going “far beyond the capacity of an individual country to address”, he said. Effective implementation of the Global Plan of Action was a “matter of urgency”, as many anti-trafficking measures adopted over the years had failed to prevent more crime, only producing new victims. A focus on the root causes was needed, one of which was poverty. Sound and stable economic development could help provide jobs and opportunities to tackle trafficking. Since 75 per cent of human trafficking occurred at the regional level, regional cooperation was essential, he emphasized, pointing out that his country worked closely within the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on prevention, law enforcement and rehabilitation.
ERVIN NINA ( Albania) said his country had adopted the Global Plan of Action three years ago and had supported the establishment of the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims. As a country whose non-governmental organizations had benefitted from the Fund, he invited Member States to contribute. Expressing concern at the increase in the number of child victims, especially girls, he called for urgent international action from the international community. Albanian law enforcement had conducted 11 joint operations with agencies from countries across Europe, which had resulted in the prosecution of traffickers, he said, recalling that 2012 had seen a decline in the number of detected victims, although there had been an increase in the number of foreigners trying to transit illegally through Albania. Border police personnel were being trained to detect potential trafficking victims among foreigners and to provide them with protection.
JUN YAMAZAKI (Japan) said that his country’s Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, established in 2009, was comprehensive and enjoyed regular follow-up. Japan also had guidelines to familiarize officers with the treatment of trafficking cases and facilitate the sharing of information among relevant authorities while ensuring victims’ security, even when their activities while being trafficked constituted crimes. In addition to domestic efforts, there was a need for partnerships between origin and destination countries, he said, adding that issues such as building law-enforcement capacities and victim reintegration should be addressed in origin countries. To that end, Japan provided technical assistance to countries in South-East Asia, either bilaterally or through United Nations agencies.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said trafficking was a crime in his country, where efforts to raise awareness of the issue were a vital part of the national anti-trafficking strategy. Prosecutors received specialized training to ensure that they could identify the appropriate prosecution tools. He described Colombia’s victim-assistance initiatives, saying systems were in place to ensure they were not subjected to discrimination. The national police had dismantled more than 10 transnational networks, and 107 investigations by prosecutors had resulted in many convictions. Cooperation was expanding in all directions, he said, noting that bilateral memorandums of understanding had been proposed to strengthen cooperation. However, it was vital to strengthen labour laws, he said, stressing the power of companies to help tackle the problem.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran) said the demand from developed countries, especially for trafficked women and children, must be “addressed and suppressed”. Expressing concern at the increasing numbers of trafficked human organs and tissue, he said that economic poverty, lack of security, especially in war zones, discrimination and marginalization, as well as the current financial crisis, had contributed to the problem. The Iranian Government had passed a law nine years ago, criminalizing and penalizing all forms of trafficking, he said, adding that it provided for the punishment of any Iranian individual, whether living inside or outside the country, for involvement in trafficking. More recently, 147 people had been arrested for involvement in human trafficking, he said.
CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE ( Botswana), associating himself with the African Group, said that due to its location, his country had been used as a trafficking route and a hub for traffickers. Other States in the region recognized the problem and were increasingly aware of the need for coordinated joint initiatives at the regional and national levels, and for harmonized legislation and policies. Botswana’s efforts were, therefore, guided by regional instruments. Expressing concern at the persistence and prevalence of human trafficking, especially women and girls, and the increase in the number of child victims, he said the lack of legislation criminalizing the illicit trade undermined Government efforts, while enforcement of anti-trafficking laws posed a challenge for many States. National efforts to prosecute and punish perpetrators must be strengthened, for which capacity-building was of key importance, as were continuous monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of anti-trafficking measures.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said that, despite his country’s comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking, challenges persisted. Becoming a destination, transit and to a lesser extent, even an origin country, Malaysia found itself in the enviable position of having to see the problem from “a bird’s eye view”, he said. He also expressed deep concern that women accounted for almost 60 per cent of all trafficked victims detected globally, followed by children at 27 per cent. Malaysia was working closely with other ASEAN member States to address the issue at the regional level.
ALBERT CHUA ( Singapore) cited his country’s susceptibility to use by trafficking syndicates due to its status as a regional transport hub. As part of Singapore’s holistic, partnership-based National Plan of Action, the powers of law-enforcement and labour officers to tackle trafficking had been strengthened, with police liaison officers deployed in neighbouring countries acting as contact points for transnational crime cases. Singaporean authorities held pre-departure briefings and road shows to educate foreign workers on their employment rights and avenues for assistance, and many civil society organizations participated in policy development initiatives, he said. Although not yet a party to the Trafficking Protocol, Singapore used its definition of trafficking in operational matters and was continuing efforts to pass an Organized Crime Act targeting organized criminal groups.
SUL KYUNG-HOON ( Republic of Korea), underlining the importance of fighting impunity in properly combating human trafficking, said he was concerned about the low conviction rate shown in UNODC’s 2012 Global Report. Without accountability, the international community could “never expect to address the issue fundamentally”, he said, emphasizing the need for cooperation and coordination among countries, United Nations agencies and other international organizations so as to improve their ability to tackle the transnational nature of human trafficking. For its part, the Republic of Korea had extradition treaties with 77 countries. However, there remained a need for better protection and assistance for victims, he said, adding that the Trust Fund provided vital support in that regard.
LE HOAI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said the root social causes of trafficking must be tackled in parallel with other anti-crime efforts, including prevention and assistance for victims, which were essential. Viet Nam had laws, policies, programmes and plans of action across many areas that conformed to the four main pillars of the Global Plan of Action: prevention; protection; prosecution; and partnership. The Government’s National Action Plan for 2011-2015 aimed to protect citizens and foreigners within the country from trafficking, and to work cooperatively with other countries and organizations. According to UNODC, Viet Nam had one of the world’s highest conviction rates for traffickers, he noted, adding that mass media played a significant role in mobilizing public support and exposing crimes.
KHALID JABOR S. J. AL-MESALLAM ( Qatar) said his country was determined to prevent and combat human trafficking, and as such, paid great attention to the Global Plan of Action. Within that framework, the Government had translated political will into concrete measures, including enactment of a 2011 law that criminalized all trafficking. Qatar was a major donor to the Trust Fund, further underlining the importance it placed on combating trafficking and preserving human dignity.
FERNANDO ARIAS ( Spain) said his country had welcomed an unprecedented 6 million migrants in the past decade alone, compelling it to confront human trafficking on a scale previously unknown to Spain. When fighting trafficking for sexual exploitation, “we are fighting too against gender-based violence”, he said, expressing support for an approach that identified the links connecting discrimination, gender-based violence and trafficking. It was essential to establish mechanisms, tools and collaboration procedures in origin countries that would allow the detection and prevention of potential trafficking victims before they arrived in destination countries. He also touched upon Spain’s public awareness campaigns, such as the “Blue Heart” campaign and initiatives such as the International Day against sexual exploitation and trafficking of women, boys and girls.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ ( Cuba) said transnational organized crime did not exist in his country and human trafficking was extremely scarce if it was at all present. Cuba, therefore, did not qualify as an origin country, he declared. Nevertheless, the Government attached great importance to fighting that “carnal form of trade” by enacting national laws that criminalized it. In cases whereby the victim was a boy- or girl-child, the laws prescribed even harsher punishment, he said. Cuba firmly rejected evaluations conducted unilaterally and in a politically motivated manner by a State, regardless of how powerful it may be, he said, adding that such evaluations were clearly incompatible with the Global Plan of Action, as their selective, discriminatory nature promoted unfair double standards.
NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA ( Tunisia), associating herself with the African Group, said his country had abolished slavery in 1846 and had subsequently passed a law criminalizing it. It had ratified and acceded to international instruments relating to human trafficking and was committed to combating it at the root and in its many manifestations. The Government had undertaken legislation to prevent trafficking, to repress the prostitution of women and girls and to integrate prostitutes into society. In collaboration with IOM, Tunisia was conducting a study of the many aspects of trafficking inside the country, and had prepared a draft law aimed at banning human trafficking, with the participation of all relevant ministries, as well as civil society. Singling out the issue of migration, she called on all States to address the issues that fed human trafficking.
THOMAS ADOUMASSE (Benin), associating himself with the African Group, said his country had elevated the battle against human trafficking to the highest level, tackling factors like unemployment, discrimination, marginalization and social exclusion. It had developed the Children’s Code, which worked in addition to the African Charter of Rights for Children, he said, adding that the Regional Accord, signed in Abidjan in 2006, was applied in Benin and also aimed to combat trafficking. Many challenges remained, including the need to sharpen the focus on protection and aid for victims. It was also important to reinforce the capacities of the Trust Fund. The “fundamental pillar” of the global strategy must be prevention, he said, stressing that development could be used more intensively to attack root causes.
Ms. POWELL-BRITTON ( Jamaica) said her country had established a shelter for victims, conducted 255 raids, detected six cases and rescued 39 victims. The Government had intensified its efforts to prevent trafficking and identify potential victims by expanding outreach, sensitization and training initiatives. Public education campaigns included more than 50, the launch of social media pages, island-wide tours and school broadcasts. However, the commendable work carried out at the national level must be adequately supported at the international level, she emphasized, pointing out that no country or region had remained untouched. “Our ancestors fought for our freedom,” she noted. “It is disgraceful that at this juncture of world history we should see the emergence of a form of modern-day slavery which renders women, men, girls and boys to be traded as chattel and treated as sub-human.”
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said that his country was a State party to all international legal instruments relating to human trafficking. In 2012, it had adopted both the Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons for the period 2012-2018 and the related biannual Action Plan. While Montenegro was considered a transit country, human trafficking was not a national phenomenon but rather existed at the level of individual cases. The Government had made significant efforts to prevent and suppress it through public awareness campaigns, education in schools and the training of relevant professionals.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ ( El Salvador) said his country had set up a national council to address the prosecution and prevention of human trafficking, as well as the provision of care for its victims. National policy addressed the issue in an integrated way, seeing cross-sectoral partnerships as the key to raising awareness and preventing domestic human trafficking. Laws on protection had been revised so as to provide better tools for prosecuting perpetrators. Likewise, a manual had been prepared for migration agents, resulting in the rescue of victims and the capture of criminals. The Prosecutor’s Office, in collaboration with the civil police, had set out new criteria for human trafficking that would set heavier penalties.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said human trafficking stemmed from high unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunity and a generally grave socioeconomic situation. Victims were recruited in numerous ways, most commonly through false promises of a better life. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was committed to fighting the illegal trade through an action plan that aimed to prevent abuse, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators. The Security Ministry had prepared a new strategy and action plan for 2013-2015, having consulted with various non-governmental groups, she said. It had signed a protocol with two such groups that helped foreign victims, while the Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement agencies were collecting data on possible victims.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV ( Kyrgyzstan) said that, as a member of the Friends United in the Fight against Human Trafficking, his country attached great importance to the consolidation of international efforts to combat the global threat. In accordance with the Global Plan of Action and its international obligations, Kyrgyzstan had implemented measures to promote a national anti-trafficking system in the past year. They included the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons for 2012-2015, involving the tightening of administrative and criminal liability for trafficking-related crimes, as well as increased public awareness. One of its key areas was assistance to victims, including return to their homelands and the provision of legal, consultative, medical and psychological assistance.
VLADIMIR LUPAN ( Republic of Moldova) said that his Government, working with the IOM mission in his country had adjusted to European and international standards its legislative and police frameworks on fighting and preventing trafficking. The Government had adopted the National Plan of Action, encompassing 102 concrete actions to be taken on the basis of Council of Europe recommendations. In that context, every law-enforcement body in the country had created a separate anti-trafficking unit within its ranks. To help victims recover and rebuild their lives, the Government had strengthened protections through the National Referral System for victims and potential victims of trafficking, operated through Government and civil society agencies. Furthermore, data was collected for analysis and monitoring of national policies. As a result of that systemic approach, the Republic of Moldova had moved from tier three to tier two in the list of countries affected by human trafficking, he said, adding, however, that coordinated efforts were needed beyond the national level to fully tackle the problem.
Y. HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) said that his country’s geographic position made it a target country and the Government had stepped up its fight against trafficking under the framework of the Global Plan of Action and the Palermo Protocol. He cited progress in identifying victims and providing them with support to ensure their voluntary and safe repatriation, as well as in raising awareness and increasing protection standards. As part of a comprehensive approach, Turkey had established the National Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking, a body for coordinating responses to trafficking. New legislation was being formulated to address the remaining problems and new challenges, while efforts in the social and humanitarian field, such as the establishment of support centres, were proceeding.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) said his country had established a human rights-based and victim-centred approach to human trafficking, which provided temporary residence permits to victims regardless of their participation in court proceedings. Croatia had also established a national referral mechanism to identify and help victims. Its new national plan aimed to give special attention to the suppression of labour and sexual exploitation, and to increase public awareness campaigns, among other things. Emphasizing the need for enhanced international and regional cooperation, he said it was only through collaboration with authorities from neighbouring countries, which were usually part of the same human trafficking chain, that problems would be successfully suppressed, he said.
ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI ( India) noted that the 2012 UNODC Global Report was the first that sought to present a global overview of trafficking trends and challenges. While it contained information gaps, its findings were a “grim reminder” of the growing scale of trafficking and the complexities of combating it. He cited the particular vulnerability of women and children and the failure of some countries to record even a single conviction between 2007 and 2010. The findings underlined the importance of greater cohesion in international efforts to prevent, prosecute and punish trafficking and revealed the “significant challenge” of capacity-building. India’s approach was not restricted to direct intervention against trafficking, and included efforts to empower vulnerable segments of society, he said.
DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group, said that, while many countries had implemented laws and acceded to international anti-trafficking instruments, statistics indicated that there were still some 2.5 million victims of human trafficking, of whom only 1 in 100 had been saved in 2012. Burkina Faso had been committed to the struggle since 1999. Among other means, the Government had created a national committee of vigilance and surveillance against trafficking and other associated activities: adoption of a 2008 law providing for sanctions against perpetrators; raising awareness of State and non-State actors, as well as public opinion leaders, to the harmful effects of trafficking in children; establishing a legal assistance fund to provide victims with pro bono access to the judicial system; and adoption of a procedure for the repatriation of children and women victims while protecting their rights. Burkina Faso also participated in regional and international initiatives, he said.
SIMONA MICULESCU ( Romania) recounted her encounter with Marinela, a girl trafficked from Romania at 17 and forced into prostitution by a pimp who had beaten her with “numbing regularity”, constantly raping and torturing her in the “violent, horrific labyrinths of her ordeal”. Enhancing collective international efforts to prevent such crimes was more necessary than ever, she said. Awareness campaigns targeting the main at-risk groups were the essential preventive tool. Domestic and international media played an essential role in such campaigns and in broadcasting anti-trafficking messages and documentaries. Inter-agency and transnational cooperation could also make it possible to bring perpetrators to justice, she said.
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