We have often heard of trafficking in narcotic drugs, weapons and other forms of smuggling. Though less known human trafficking is a graver crime because it often involves innocent, helpless people and even children. For instance Pope Francis has described human smuggling or trafficking as one of gravest crimes of our times, despite the digital technology available to crack down on it. It appears that the criminals are using this technology in a more effective way to avoid detection.
Next week the United Nations marks the world day against trafficking in people with the 2021 theme being “Victims’ voices lead the way.” Outlining the theme the UN says the theme puts victims of human trafficking at the centre of the campaign and will highlight the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking.
According to the UN, the campaign portrays survivors as key actors in the fight against human trafficking and focusses on the crucial role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation. Many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced re-victimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support.
Examining the issues of sexual exploitation, forced labour and slavery, the UN says trafficking in people is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Linking the two major crimes United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) -- the guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto-- assists States in their efforts to implement the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in people.
The protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in people defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
The 2020 UNODC global report on trafficking in people is the fifth of its kind mandated by the General Assembly through the 2010 UN global plan of action to combat trafficking in people. The report draws on data from 148 countries and explores issues of particular relevance in the current crisis, including the impact of socio-economic factors, drivers of child trafficking and trafficking for forced labour, and traffickers’ use of the internet. Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. Since 2003, the UNODC has collected information on about 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide. Globally countries are detecting and reporting more victims and are convicting more traffickers. This can be the result of increased capacity to identify victims and/or an increased number of trafficked victims.
American Statesman Benjamin Franklin had said justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are while Pope Francis has proclaimed that human trafficking is a scourge, a crime against the entire humanity. It is time to join forces and work together to free its victims and to eradicate this crime that affects all of us, from individual families to worldwide community.