Side Event on Trafficking for Forced Labour and Labour Exploitation

Vienna, 11 April 2011

During the 20th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI), the Permanent Mission of Finland and UNODC organized a side event to present a new HEUNI three country study.

The side event focused on trafficking in persons for forced labour and forced labour exploitation. The panel, chaired by UNODC, was composed of representatives from HEUNI, the Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (CBSS-TF-THB) and the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR).

Natalia Ollus and Anniina Jokinen of HEUNI presented the study takes a comprehensive look at trafficking for forced labour in Finland, Poland and Estonia and covers the period 2004-2010..

It shows that Finland is a destination country, Estonia mainly an origin country and Poland both a destination and an origin country of trafficking for forced labour.

The research uncovers situations of exploitation in the agriculture, shipyards, construction, restaurant and service sectors, as well as in commerce, seasonal jobs and in domestic work. Victims are exploited in many different ways. The victims are usually paid very low salaries without any mandatory compensations or extras, or they receive no salary at all. Victims find themselves under constant supervision and control and they are very dependent on their employer. They often work long hours 6-7 days a week. Victims may have written work contracts in languages they do not understand. The workers' freedom of movement is limited and their passports are taken away. Victims are isolated from the surrounding society and remain unaware of their own rights and the terms of employment that are acceptable in the destination country.

Problems regarding the identification of victims and cases as well as the provision of victim assistance are similar in all three countries. The researchers conclude that practitioners should be educated about the elements which constitute trafficking for forced labour so that they can identify potential victims and cases and provide appropriate assistance to the victims.

The study was carried out with the support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the Directorate-General Justice, Freedom and Security of the European Commission.

Ciaran Morrisey and Anthony Jay of the CBSS TF-THB drew attention to the Handbook for Diplomatic and Consular Personnel on how to assist and protect victims of human trafficking. The Handbook complements diplomatic training seminars but can also be used as a stand-alone, practical and illustrative guide for diplomatic and consular personnel when dealing with suspected and presented cases of human trafficking in their daily work. It provides the reader with an overview of the nature of human trafficking and its legal frameworks. It furthermore includes concrete advice on how to identify and assist victims of human trafficking and considerations when conducting interviews with potential victims. Advice is also given on how to develop strategies in a consular section to work against and prevent human trafficking.

Mr. Yvon Dandurand from the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (Vancouver) presented outcomes of a national consultation on the progress achieved to date in preventing human trafficking and potential plans for the future in Canada. The procedure included consultations at the provincial and national levels, as well as a meeting of international experts. The main purpose of the consultation was to identify some of the lessons learned thus far and delineate the elements of a renewed human trafficking prevention strategy for Canada. The International Centre for Criminal Law Reform will post a more detailed account of this planning exercise on its website.

The side event helped address the concerns expressed in the UNODC 2009 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons that trafficking in persons for forced labour is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation for instance. Legislation on trafficking in persons is in place in a great majority of countries in the world. 143 States are party to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. Yet the number of victims identified and the number of convictions remain extremely low. A better understanding of trafficking for forced labour, how to prevent it, prosecute the traffickers, protect and assist the victims leads to better implementation in practice of counter trafficking measures.


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