By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations has called on global governments, law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to intensify and strengthen efforts to end human trafficking, and to prevent, identify and support victims of the scourge.
The UN made the call while commemorating the 2023 World Day against Trafficking in Persons, saying global crises, conflicts and climate emergencies are escalating trafficking risks across the world.
With this year’s commemoration themed, ‘Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind,’ the UN said displacement and socio-economic inequalities are impacting millions of people worldwide, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.
According to the world global body, 2023 is aimed at raising awareness of disturbing developments and trends identified by the latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking Persons.
According to the report, those who lack legal status live in poverty, have limited access to education, healthcare, or decent work, face discrimination, violence, abuse, or come from marginalised communities, and are often the primary targets of traffickers.
“To end human trafficking, we cannot allow this crime to be met with increasing indifference and impunity. We must strengthen resilience against exploitation and the underlying socio-economic and cultural issues that are conducive to trafficking.
“We must sensitise everyone to the topic of human trafficking and thus push attention towards those who can make a difference in terms of changing policy and national resource management to strengthen prevention measures, improve identification of victims, increase support of survivors and end impunity.
“Globally, national responses, particularly in developing states, appear to be deteriorating. Detection rates fell by 11% in 2020 and convictions plummeted by 27%, illustrating a worldwide slowdown in the criminal justice response to trafficking.
“The COVID-19 pandemic also changed the characteristics of trafficking, pushing it further underground and potentially increasing the dangers to victims by making the crime less likely to come to the attention of the authorities.
“In fact, 41% of victims who managed to escape their ordeal reached out to the authorities on their own – another clear sign that anti-trafficking responses are falling short.
“In the context of trafficking in persons, leaving people behind means; failing to end the exploitation of trafficking victims; failing to support victim-survivors once they are free from their traffickers, and leaving identifiable groups vulnerable to traffickers.
“Trafficking in persons 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.
“UNODC, as guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto, assists states in their efforts to implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.
“The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines 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. The World Day against Trafficking in Persons was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/68/192.”