Policy makers and celebrities unite in call for action on human trafficking

Ricky Martin makes global appeal: "I beg you to act now"

VIENNA, February 13 (UNODC) - Policy makers and celebrities have today launched an unprecedented global appeal to both recognise the scale and prevalence of human trafficking, and for co-ordinated action to be taken to fight it. They were speaking at the opening session of the Vienna Forum, the first-ever global forum to fight human trafficking.

  Ricky Martin, the Puerto Rican, Grammy Award-winning pop star, said: "Human trafficking is a vicious violation of human rights; it has no place in our world and I beg you to act now"

  • Ursula Plassnik, Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, said: "We simply cannot tolerate human beings being bought, sold and hired like commodities. Each and every one of us is being called upon to act"
  • Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt and President of the Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement, said: "human trafficking is a pervasive cancer… anyone who knows the truth about the horrors of human trafficking cannot condone it"
  • Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, accused law enforcement authorities around the world of demonstrating "benign neglect" and appealed for co-ordinated action to fight the " monster" of human trafficking

 Emma Thompson, the Oscar-winning actress and Chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, who yesterday opened an art installation mapping the journey of a trafficking victim, told the Forum the harrowing story of a Moldovan woman who was trafficked to the UK and forced to work as a prostitute, and whose experience convinced Emma Thompson of the need for action.

 During the first session of the Vienna Forum, the campaign group, STOP THE TRAFFIK, delivered a petition signed by 1.5 million people around the world calling for action. It was received by Ricky Martin and Antonio Maria Costa.

 The Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking is today bringing together 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement teams, business leaders, NGO representatives and trafficking victims from 116 countries. It will be focusing on the three key elements of human trafficking - its root causes, its social and economic impact, and the actions needed to eradicate it.

 Today, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched a witness protection manual to assist UN Member States develop comprehensive programs for the protection of victims and witnesses of crime. The "Good Practices in the Protection of Witnesses in Criminal Proceedings Involving Organized Crime" is just one of a number of new tools being launched at the Forum to address human trafficking. Witness protection programs are considered a key tool in the dismantling of human trafficking networks as well as combating other forms of organized crime

The Vienna Forum is being convened by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) which was established in recognition of the fact that human trafficking takes many forms and that a co-ordinated and united approach is required. UN.GIFT was launched in March 2007 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) together with the International Labour Organization (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Media bids and enquiries

For press enquiries, please contact:

         Robert Watkinson; robert.watkinson@portlandpr.co.uk; tel: +43 664 486 5297 (Austria) or + 44 7984 433 486 (UK)

        Hannah McCullagh; hannah.mccullagh@portlandpr.co.uk; tel: +43 664 2772485 (Austria) or +44 7739 147841 (UK)

For broadcast enquiries please contact:

·         Faridoun Hemani; fhemani@linxproductions.com ; tel: + 43 664 7626411 (Austria) or +44 7748 648 355

 

STOP THE TRAFFIK is a global coalition of over 1000 member organizations and active in over 50 countries. For media inquiries, call Ruth Dearnley on + 44 7795 606708
  

Information officers

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Walter Kemp; walter.kemp@unodc.org; tel: + 43 1 260 605629  

 

International Labour Organization

Houtan Homayounpour; g12dcomm@ilo.org ; tel: + 41 79 593 1558

 

International Organization for Migration

Chris Lom; clom@iom.int; t el: + 66 819 275 215 / + 43 650 261 8782 (from 11 th Feb)

 

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Yvon Edoumou; yedoumou@ohchr.org; tel: + 41 788 263 552

 

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Blanca Tapia; blanca.tapia@osce.org; tel: + 43 664 859 08 04

 

United Nations Children's Fund

Geoff Keele; gkeele@unicef.org; tel: +1 212 326 7583      
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