United Nations’ global response to Human Trafficking
CAPE TOWN - This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Palermo Convention, a gathering of the United Nations that defined the world’s response to human trafficking.
The convention, adopted by the UN General Assembly represented a major step in the fight against transnational organized crime especially the prevention, suppression and punishment of trafficking in persons.
According to the UN , the trafficking response protocol developed in Palermo was 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,” said the UN.
It is estimated that 40.3 million people are trapped in this modern-day slavery, with women and girls accounting for more than 70 percent of detected human trafficking victims.
A report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) reveals that globally, the trade brings criminals $150 billion annually ( R2 trillion)
The United Nations defines human trafficking 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.
As part of its global effort to address trafficking in persons, the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UNVTF) was established.
The Trust Fund managed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is aimed at providing humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking in persons through specialized non-governmental organizations.
These NGOs provide critical assistance to victims including shelter, health services, education, vocational training and psychosocial, legal and economic support.
“Covid-19 has amplified trafficking dangers. Loss of jobs, growing poverty, school closures and a rise in online interactions are increasing vulnerabilities and opening up opportunities for organized crime groups,” said Ghada Waly, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
The theme of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking Persons focuses on the first responders- the social workers, labour inspectors, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, health workers and NGO staff who identify victims, help them on their path to justice and with rebuilding their lives.