Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling

Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, 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. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.

Smuggling migrants involves the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. Virtually every country in the world is affected by this crime, whether as an origin, transit or destination country for smuggled migrants by profit-seeking criminals. Smuggled migrants are vulnerable to life-threatening risks and exploitation; thousands of people have suffocated in containers, perished in deserts or dehydrated at sea. Generating huge profits for the criminals involved, migrant smuggling fuels corruption and empowers organized crime. The challenge for all countries, rich and poor, is to target the criminals who exploit desperate people and to protect and assist victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life.

1 September 2010 – The United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was adopted by the General Assembly on 30 July to urge Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to try to defeat the scourge.

The Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the United Nations’ broader programmes to boost development and strengthen security around the world.

It also calls for the setting up of a United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking, especially women and children.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the Plan of Action should serve as “a clarion call” to Member States, international organizations and civil society groups of the need to take immediate steps “to stop this terrible crime against human dignity, which shames us all”.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking.

“It is slavery in the modern age,” Mr. Ban said. “Every year thousands of people, mainly women and children, are exploited by criminals who use them for forced labour or the sex trade. No country is immune. Almost all play a part, either as a source of trafficked people, transit point or destination.”

The Secretary-General urged countries, philanthropists and others to contribute generously to the new trust fund for trafficking victims.

“The fund aims to help Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations provide these vulnerable people with protection and support for their physical, psychological and social recovery. After they have been exploited and abused, they should not be punished, too.”

The Plan of Action – which focuses on preventing trafficking, prosecuting offenders and protecting victims – also stresses the importance of obtaining more research, data and analysis about the problem.

“We must improve our knowledge and understanding of this crime if we are to make good policy decisions and targeted interventions,” Mr. Ban said.

“Within the United Nations system, my appreciation goes to UN.GIFT, the Vienna Forum, the Blue Heart Campaign and our goodwill ambassadors. UNODC’s Global Report on Human Trafficking, anti-trafficking toolkits and manuals, documentary films, public information and technical assistance have also played a part to build consensus. I thank all those involved for their commitment and hard work”, he said.

He added that the only way to end human trafficking is by working together, between States and within regions, among United Nations entities and in public-private partnerships.

In his address, General Assembly President Ali Treki emphasized the human rights aspects of the fight against trafficking. “Abduction, coercion, trafficking across national and international borders, forcing women and children into sexual exploitation and servitude – this must not be accepted in today’s world,” he said.

“As this heinous crime flourishes, thousands of men, women and children are robbed of their safety, their freedom and their dignity. Human trafficking devastates families and tears communities apart. When the history of this horror calls, we cannot let this period be remembered as one in which the global community knew but did not act.”

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