UNIC Port of Spain - Caribbean UN - Human Rights
Human Rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Human Rights are those universal entitlements that everyone should have by virtue of being a human beings. They are documented in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is the most globally accepted document by countries around the world. It lists under thirty articles a number of rights that everyone every where should be able to access and enjoy without prejudice or discrimination.
In order to promote and protect human rights the United Nations created specialised bodies that help to promote and protect them:
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights leads the UN System's global activities related to human rights.
- Treaty bodies monitor and assess a list of core instruments and other optional conventions and treaties that focus on specific human rights entitlements
- Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body made up of forty seven (47) member states who are elected by the UN General Assembly- its primary responsibility is the protection of human rights and addressing violations
- Universal Periodic Review - is a unique peer based process by which countries review each other and make recommendations on how to better deliver on human rights issues.
- Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as…
Adopted by General Assembly resolution 55/25, entered into force on 28 January 2004. It deals with the growing problem of organized criminal groups who smuggle migrants, often at high risk to the migrants and at great profit for the offenders. A major achievement of the Protocol was that, for the first time in a global international instrument, a definition of smuggling of migrants was developed and agreed upon.
Adopted by General Assembly resolution 55/25. It entered into force on 25 December 2003. It is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons. The intention behind this definition is to facilitate convergence in national approaches with regard to the establishment of domestic criminal offences that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases. An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights.
A/RES/68/192 Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons
UN General Assembly Adopted without vote, 70th plenary meeting : Issued in GAOR, 68th sess., Suppl. no. 49
The Convention was adopted by resolution A/RES/55/25 of 15 November 2000 at the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. In accordance with its article 36, the Convention will be open for signature by all States and by regional economic integration organizations, provided that at least one Member State of such organization has signed the Convention, from 12 to 15 December 2000 at the Palazzi di Giustizia in Palermo, Italy, and thereafter at United Nations Headquarters in New York until 12 December 2002.
14: Jan 18
Training Flight attendants to recognise trafficking victims
The UN Human Rights Office and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) develop set of guidelines to train cabin crewmembers on how to identify safely and report suspected cases of human trafficking.
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“Something in the back of my mind told me that something was not right,” Shelia Fedrick, a flight attendant working for Alaska Airlines, told reporters. “The girl looked like she had been through hell.”
Fedrick was working on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, United States, when she noticed on board a well-dressed older man travelling with a teenage girl that she said looked “dishevelled and out of sorts.”
Fedrick tried to speak to the pair but the girl remained silent and the man became defensive. It was at that moment that the flight attendant decided to leave a note for the girl in the restroom and instructed her discreetly to go to the restroom.
“She wrote on the note that she needed help,” said Fedrick who immediately informed the pilot. Police officers were waiting at the plane’s terminal in San Francisco on arrival and were able to confirm that the young girl was a victim of human trafficking.
Fedrick, who has been a flight attendant for over ten years, said the incident reminded her of her training; although she felt that she could have seen other victims without being fully aware that they were being trafficked.
“If you see something, say something,” Fedrick told reporters.
Human trafficking is considered the third most lucrative illegal activity on the planet, after the illegal sale of arms and drugs, and its clandestine nature makes it difficult to quantify with precision.
Men, women and children are recruited, transferred, harboured or received, through the use of force or deception, to be exploited into prostitution rings, forced labour, domestic servitude or the removal of their organs.
In 2017, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that some 40.3 million people worldwide were subjected to forced labour and modern slavery. Further, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its 2016 Global Report revealed that the majority of trafficking victims, 51%, were women.
International efforts to address trafficking can be traced back to at least a century and a fundamental shift is taking place in how the international community thinks about human trafficking. For instance, the US Department of Homeland Security indicates that during the fiscal year 2017, its Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch rescued or identified 518 victims.
In 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, calling on States to adopt national action plans to end trafficking. Specialized UN agencies also have their role to play: the UN Human Rights Office has been working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop guidelines for airlines operators to train cabin crews in identifying and reporting trafficked individuals.
“Cabin crewmembers are in a unique situation where they can observe passengers over a certain period of time allowing them to use their observation skills to identify a potential victim of trafficking,” the document reads. “If cabin crewmembers suspect a case of trafficking in persons on board, a proper assessment of the situation is necessary before any response can be initiated.”
The Guidelines document gives examples of indicators for cabin crews on how to identify potential victims. These include situations where a passenger is not in control of their documentation or has false identity documents; is not aware of their final destination; may not be allowed to speak for themselves directly; or has no freedom on the aircraft to separate themselves from those accompanying them.
If they believe they have identified a victim, cabin crew are advised to then follow specific reporting procedures whether the aircraft is in the air or on the ground, being always mindful to not jeopardize the victim’s and other travellers’ safety.
30: Jul '14
Human Traffikcing is a global billion dollar business.
From the young women who have been enslaved as prostitutes or abused as unpaid domestic workers to the men who have been trapped in everlasting servitude, victims of trafficking have frequently been made vulnerable by structural discrimination and inequalities, said the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay on the occasion of the first-ever World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
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Describing the trade and exploitation of human beings through trafficking as one of the gravest and most comprehensive violations of human dignity, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay marked the first-ever World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, by urging all governments to act: “Every government has a responsibility to fight it, both directly—through investigations and prosecutions – and in the deeper sense of serious and sustained efforts at prevention.”
From the young women who have been enslaved as prostitutes or abused as unpaid domestic workers to the men who have been trapped in everlasting servitude, victims of trafficking have frequently been made vulnerable by structural discrimination and inequalities, Pillay said at a special event held in Geneva to observe the Day.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 21 million men, women and children today are coerced into various forms of forced labour, generating as much as US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
“The scale and diverse nature of the problem calls for comprehensive solutions” ,Kari Tapiola, the ILO Special Advisor to the Director General, said in his address. Those who benefit from exploitation must be punished, Tapiola said, and equally there must be strong preventative measures and improved support and compensation for victims.
During the event, Mike Dottridge, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the UN Voluntary Fund for Contemporary Forms of Slavery, said that the international community has invested more than 1.2 billion US dollars to combat human trafficking.
“However, over the past decade there have been countless horrendous cases of trafficked adults and children going unassisted or receiving far too little help to enable them to exit the vicious cycle of exploitation,” he said.
Since its establishment in 1991, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, managed by the UN Human Rights Office, has awarded several million US dollars in project grants. More than 400 organizations world-wide have used the funds to provide humanitarian, legal, psychological and social assistance to victims of modern slavery. Well over half the grants go to survivors of trafficking.
July 30, the World Day against Trafficking in Persons is the day on which the UN Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons was adopted in 2010, the first-ever universal document directed at combatting human trafficking.
26: Jul '12
Human rights based perspective is urged in prosecuting crimes of trafficking in persons
States must respect and protect the rights of trafficking victims in their criminal justice responses to trafficking in persons. [/date]
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“Human rights of trafficked persons are often not the primary consideration in the pursuit of effective criminal justice responses to trafficking,” Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children said, presenting her report to the Human Rights Council.
She urged States to prosecute trafficking and related acts using a human rights-based perspective. In order to effectively combat and prevent trafficking in persons, it is essential to criminalize the conduct of trafficking and related acts through “clear, enforceable and comprehensive” legislation, while ensuring effective protection of the victim.
She noted that efforts to identify trafficked persons as victims who deserve protection are often complicated by the fact that victims may be “imperfect”; they may have committed crimes or have criminal records.
Joy Ngozi Ezeilo urged that they should not be prosecuted for offences relating to their status as victims of trafficking victims, for it destroys trust and re-traumatizes the victims.
Victims who have criminal records may also face difficulties in recovery and reintegration.
Timely and efficient identification of victims is central to the criminalization of trafficking, as it strengthens the ability of law enforcement officials to prosecute traffickers effectively and is fundamental in terms of being able to provide victims with the necessary support.
She further acknowledged the work of victim support agencies working on the ground as they are the first to come into contact with trafficked persons and thereby serve a key function.
The Special Rapporteur stated that support services to trafficked persons must be designed and delivered in a manner that is compatible with a human rights-based approach. An approach that requires an analysis of the ways in which human rights violations arose throughout the trafficking cycle as well as States’ obligations under international human rights law.
The approach further seeks to both identify and redress the discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that underlie trafficking, maintain impunity for traffickers and deny justice to victims of trafficking. A human rights-based approach also identifies victims as rights holders and their entitlements.
Some States have linked the provision of assistance and protection to cooperation with national criminal justice agencies, the Special Rapporteur strongly believes that “support and protection should not be made conditional on the victim’s capacity or willingness to cooperate in legal proceedings”.
She is also concerned by practices where victims are mandatorily detained in shelters. In particular, she considers the routine detention of women and children in shelter facilities “discriminatory and unlawful”.
The Special Rapporteur offered a number of recommendations, including criminalization of trafficking and related acts in accordance with international law and standards; non-criminalization of trafficked persons for status-related offences; building the capacity of front-line officials to identify trafficking victims accurately; and encouraging greater coordinated collaboration between criminal justice and victim support agencies.
Finally, warning that “certain laws and policies may have unintended negative consequences for victims of trafficking”, the Special Rapporteur recommended that States should “include appropriate safeguards in the criminal justice responses that protect victims, witnesses and suspects, and integrate gender and age-based perspectives into investigations and prosecution”.
Video - UN Secretary-General Addressed the Security Council
Remarks by Mira Sorvino, Goodwill Ambassador for Global Fight against Human Trafficking, at the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Join the Blue Heart Campaign
The UNODC Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking provides grassroots humanitarian, legal, and financial aid to victims of trafficking through governmental, inter-governmental, and civil society organizations.
The key aim is to give people from all walks of life - including governments, the private sector, international organizations, NGOs, and individuals the opportunity to work together to provide solutions to assist victims of human trafficking.
Visit the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking here.
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