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Human Trafficking and the UN

  • Child peers through fence- victim of trafficking

    Article 3, paragraph (a) of 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.

     


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    This Portal includes 3 databases; The Case Law database, the Legislation database, and the Bibliographic database.Through the Case Law database, UNODC hopes to raise awareness and assist countries in the ratification and implementation of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, supplementing the United Nations against Transnational Organized Crime. The public website provides access to continuously updated and expanding resources and aims to favour the exchange of information and to support law enforcement, government officials, and practitioners who are working on behalf of human trafficking victims.


     Member States on the Record

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  •  Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air

    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.


    Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children

    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


    United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

    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.

    Status of Ratifications

  • 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.

    • Read this story

      “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.”

      A young woman sitting inside the dim lit cabin of an airplane. © Sofia Sforza/CCO 1.0Fedrick 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.

    • Read this story

      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]

    • Read this story

      “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.

      Coast guards detain the vessel Kalsit carrying immigrants north of Crotone © EPA PHOTO ANSA/FRANCO CUFARI/BWShe 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.

     

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  • Join the Blue Heart Campaign

     

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    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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History of the slave trade can help to combat injustice - UN

Remembering the universal demand for freedom that led to the 1791 insurrection by slaves in what is now Haiti, the head of the United Nations cultural and educational agency today marked the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition by underscoring the importance of teaching this history to young people.

“We are counting on the teaching of this history to place tomorrow's citizens on the path to peace and dignity,” said Irina Bokova, in a message to mark the Day, which is observed annually on 23 August.

Ms. Bokova is the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has played a leading role within the UN system in fostering understanding and recognition of the slave trade.

[ testimonial author="Irina Bokova" title="Director General of UNESCO" avatar="../images/2017/bokovasm.png" icon="icon" ] “Everyone must know the scale of the crime of the slave trade, the millions of lives broken and the impact on the fate of continents up to this very day. Everyone must be fully informed of the struggle that led to its abolition, so that together we can build societies that are fairer, and thus freer,” [ /testimonial ]

She pointed to modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as ongoing social injustices, racism and racial discrimination, and said the legacy of the 1791 insurrection offer hope to eradicating those scourges.

To honour the history of the slave trade and its abolition, UNESCO earlier this year added to its World Heritage List the Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola) and the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site (Brazil), as an acknowledgement of their “outstanding universal value.”

The Slave Route project, established in 1994, consists of creating opportunities to promote mutual understanding and international reconciliation and stability through consultation and discussion. It also raises awareness, promotes debate and helps build consensus on approaches to be taken on addressing the issue of the slave trade and slavery.

This year, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is also part of the International Decade for People of African Descent, which began in 2015, and seeks to help boost political commitments in favour of people of African descent.

[ read the full story ]


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Jamaica, New York and Liberia schools connect to remember the victims of the slave trade

12 May 2017 - The United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) and Links, Inc. to organize its ninth annual Remember Slavery Global Student Videoconference on 12 May.  At  9:30 a.m. the event will linked high school students at United Nations Headquarters in New York to their counterparts in Kingston, Jamaica, and Monrovia, Liberia.  The 2017 theme is “Remember Slavery:  Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”.

Students had the opportunity to learn about the specific consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in particular the ways in which enslaved Africans and their descendants influenced and continue to shape societies around the world, including in the areas of technology and culture.  They also discussed the persistent spirit and innovation of the people in communities affected by the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, United Kingdom gave a expert presentation on Black achievement which was followed by presentations from students on their research on Black achievers leading up to the conference. Soré Agbaje, a graduate of Urban Word NYC, an organization that provides free literary arts education and youth development programmes to teenagers across New York City delivered a spoken word performance. Special guest speakers included José Luis Fialho Rocha, Permanent Representative of Cabo Verde to the United Nations, and Pennelope Althea Beckles, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago.

The conference participants also learned about The Ark of Return, which is  the Permanent Memorial at United Nations Headquarters to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  
The Remember Slavery Programme is managed by the Education Outreach Section of the Department of Public Information. It was established by the General Assembly in 2007 to further remembrance of and learning about the causes, consequences, lessons and legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and slavery.  It also aims to raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice today, through activities held around the world by the global network of United Nations information centres and educational materials produced throughout the year.

To learn more about the United Nations Remember Slavery programme, please visit rememberslavery.un.org.

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US removal of textbook with ‘distorted’ depiction of slavery from classrooms applauded by UN experts

5 January 2017 – A team of United Nations human rights experts is supporting a recent decision by a United States school district in Connecticut to remove offensive and inaccurate historical information about slavery from its classrooms.

The information was part of a textbook, The Connecticut Adventure, and stated that slaves in the state of Connecticut were often treated like family members, “taught to be Christian,” and sometimes to read and write. It was taught to students aged nine to 10 until district officials removed it because its depiction of slavery was inaccurate, simplistic, and offensive.

“The chapter discussing the history of slavery in Connecticut is a distortion of the true nature of enslavement,” announced Ricardo Sunga, a human rights expert who is the leader of an expert panel set up by the UN Human Rights Council to study racial discrimination around the world.

“Enslaved people in Connecticut, like those in the American South before the Civil War, were trafficked against their will, had their fundamental right to life, liberty, and property taken away from them, faced similar levels of exploitation, and were subjected to the most dehumanizing treatment imaginable,” said Mr. Sunga.

He added that students need to know that enslaved people were never treated as “family.”

Following the decision by the Norwalk, Connecticut school district, the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent has urged that other districts throughout the US – and other countries around the world – follow the example of promoting historical accuracy.

The Working Group is also urging the US Department of Education and other school districts in the US and other countries to review textbooks and educational materials in order to determine whether they accurately depict slavery. Where appropriate, they urge officials to remove inaccurate or distorted information from classrooms.

“These deeply offensive texts should be replaced with accurate depictions of history which convey the message of the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings,” Mr. Sunga emphasized.

“Educators and publishers have a responsibility to ensure that textbooks and other educational materials accurately reflect historical facts on tragedies and atrocities – in particular, slavery, the transatlantic trade in African people, and colonialism.

“This will avoid stereotypes and the distortion or falsification of these historical facts, which may lead to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia, and related intolerance,” he added.

Independent experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. They work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work and are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacity.

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