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Symposium 2010

Proposal - Stopping Human Trafficking

The Challenge

At least 12 million people worldwide are trapped in conditions of forced labor, a fifth of them being exploited as a result of human trafficking. These forms of modern day slavery have become one of t ...

At least 12 million people worldwide are trapped in conditions of forced labor, a fifth of them being exploited as a result of human trafficking. These forms of modern day slavery have become one of the most profitable and most horrifying businesses in the world. Human trafficking and coerced labor are said to be the fastest growing source of income for organized crime and its third most important source after drugs and the arms trade.

Some proposals for the fight against trafficking in human beings. Leitmotiv are the P’s: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Punishment and Partnership.

  1. The most important but at the same time the most difficult is the P of prevention. Every victim of trafficking is one too many. Three issues can be noted : Raising the public awareness both for possible victims and for the general public to be able to see the signals and to alert the authorities of irregular situations. Creating barriers for the traffickers was. Every trafficker and every victim needs papers, housing, transportation. There is a need to collaborate with other stakeholders to make life difficult for these criminals. Demand there should be a focus on the demand side for prostitution as well as for cheap labor, specifically in the informal economy. It is important that the perception of victims of labor exploitation be changed from seeing them as illegal immigrants into seeing them as the victims they are. Another important aspect is to get the big companies to set the example, for contractors, sub and sub sub contractors, all through the chain, that exploiting people will be a blemish on their reputation and a reason for consumers not to buy their products.
  2. Protection, getting victims to come forward, to cooperate with the police is difficult. Issues can be the influence of provisions for victims, such as shelter, social and judicial support and residency permits on their ability and willingness to cooperate. Prosecution and protecting the victim are two sides of the same coin. One needs to offer provisions for victims in order for them to come forward and enable the prosecution to get the perpetrators behind bars.
  3. As for prosecution there is one important advice:-> follow the money. And the money taken from perpetrators should benefit the victims. The role of the internet has been neglected.. Not only is the internet used to recruit potential victims, but also as a means to force or coerce victims with compromising films or photos and as a medium of exploitation (webcamsex) and to sell and buy sexual services.
  4. Involve the Judiciary. What finally counts is: are these criminals duly punished. The fight against HT does not stop at prosecution. If at the end of the day traffickers are not punished not only the prosecutor stands empty handed, but also the victim will be an easy target for revictimilasation. The problem of convincing judges is felt broadly. Although the Palermo Protocol is the basis of all legislation, nevertheless the explanation and consequently the rulings by judges in the different countries vary.
  5. The 5th P is of partnership. THB knows no borders so cooperation between countries is essential. This can work on the area of prevention, such as for example preboarding checks in source countries, but also in the area of prosecution, working together and sharing information. Also partnerships with NGO’s and other stakeholders, creating trust and understanding for each others position and role in the process is important.
  6. In art 29 of the Convention of the Council of Europe Governments are advised to appoint National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms to monitor the anti trafficking activities of State Institutions. In my opinion this can best be done by an independent Rapporteur in order to monitor the endeavours of the State objectively. Monitoring mechanisms are essential elements in the fight against trafficking. Traffickers do not respect borders, therefore cooperation’s between countries is very important. A network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent mechanisms could be instrumental to this cooperation as well as to collecting and sharing data. Quantitative, what are we talking about in way of numbers, how many perpetrators, how many victims, but and this is just as important also qualitative: what are the experiences of victims, how can they best be protected, what works. Sharing data between countries can be difficult as the legal structures differ. A system to compare data like Montrasec, that was developed for the EU would be advised to be implemented.
  7. THB does not only occur as a cross border phenomenon. It is important to recognise internal trafficking as such.

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