Yury Fedotov

Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Remarks on the launch of the national Blue Heart campaign in Brazil by the Ministry of Justice

9 May 2013, Brasília, Brazil


Credit: Isaac Amorim

Yury Fedotov delivers speech during launch of Blue Heart Campaign in Brazil, at the Ministry of Justice


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very glad to have the opportunity to address you at the launch of the national blue heart campaign here in Brazil. The issue of human trafficking is an important one and I have made the issue a priority within the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Throughout the world this crime involves millions of victims and generates billions of dollars in proceeds for the criminal networks who carry out this crime. And the victims are often the most vulnerable in our societies: women and children exploited for sex and forced labour.

As a result, no country can escape the shame of this terrible crime; it is the responsibility of every nation to confront it. Human trafficking is a threat in Latin America.

Between 2007 and 2010, the countries of Central America and the Caribbean reported very high proportions of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. Based on UNODC's research, in Brazil, forced labour corresponds to two thirds of the inquiries related to human trafficking between 2005 and 2011.

Of the 514 police inquiries on the issue during this period, 344 were on slavery, 157 on international human trafficking and 13 concerned national trafficking activities. The Federal Police indicted 381 suspects of international human trafficking for sexual exploitation between 2005 and 2011. So far, only 158 have been arrested.

Regarding destinations for the victims outside the region, South American victims accounted for some 6 per cent of the detected victims in Western and Central Europe. These figures are proof that every country is affected by human trafficking either as an origin, transit or destination point.

I am also glad to say that, in their wisdom, Member States have provided us with the tools necessary to confront the traffickers.   The first is the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. 175 states are parties to the convention, while 154 have signed or ratified the protocol.

The second tool is the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which created a Trust Fund managed by UNODC, as well as a road map to confront human trafficking. So far, the Trust Fund has provided around US$500,000 to 11 NGO projects delivering relief to the victims of human trafficking.

These are significant developments, but we cannot achieve success against this crime without raising awareness of its cruelty through civil society, businesses and the media. UNODC's Blue Heart campaign was created to achieve this. It seeks to inspire, to mobilize, and to coordinate activities against human trafficking.  Campaign tools include a dedicated website, as well as support for the national activities of Member States, and the Trust Fund.

In championing the Blue Heart campaign, the Brazilian government, and in particular, the Ministry of Justice, are joining 10 other countries in promoting this campaign.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I congratulate the Ministry of Justice for joining this initiative, but our hearts must also be connected to strong voices. If we are to make an impact on this crime, everyone must speak out on this issue.

With this in mind, I would like to congratulate Miss Ivete Sangalo, who has been appointed as UNODC National Goodwill Ambassador for Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Persons. A respected and popular singer, songwriter and television personality, Miss Sangalo is one of the most popular and best-selling female singers in Brazil.

Her music transcends Brazilian borders, and she has received 14 nominations and has won one Latin Grammy Award during her career. I look forward to her lending her own considerable talents to the cause of combating human trafficking. However, to eradicate it, there must also be a comprehensive and coordinated approach at the national, regional and global levels.

In Brazil, UNODC is working to achieve this with the Ministry of Justice through a National Policy to Fight Human Trafficking. But, every country needs an effective and efficient national strategy to counter human trafficking; one that is linked to the commitment to work with other nations across borders. Mutual legal assistance is vital, so is intelligence sharing, joint operations and victim assistance and protection.

Such activities also need to be conducted beneath an umbrella respectful of human rights, sound migration policies and sensible labor market regulation.   In its new role as a Liaison Partnership Office, the Brazilian office is well placed to coordinate efforts in all these areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Our modern societies are founded on our desire to progress. The existence of human trafficking is a sign of regression not of progression. Ending this modern form of slavery is therefore a benchmark for all of humanity.

I thank the ministry of Justice for their  support and I call on everyone to work in the spirit of cooperation to end this crime.

Thank you.

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