4 October 2013 - Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), urged Member States to do more to protect migrants' rights in the fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly's High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, he noted that although there has been progress in efforts to combat these crimes, "it is nevertheless clear that more must be done to stop modern-day slavery and the abuse of migrants at the hands of smugglers".
"We have seen that lack of awareness of obligations has led to inadequate protection and support for trafficking victims and smuggled migrants whose rights have been violated," he said.
The High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development was held on 3 and 4 October at the UN General Assembly's 68th Session in New York.
Mr. Fedotov took part in a panel discussion on "Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants in the Context of Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants and Addressing Situations of Crisis."
The panel focused on how host Governments, countries of origin and international entities could adequately protect the vulnerabilities and human rights of migrants who are smuggled or trafficked.
Mr Fedotov also addressed a side event of the Global Migration Group and a side event on "Human Rights at International Borders," organized by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.
The OHCHR event was dedicated to the protection of the rights of migrants, irrespective of their migratory status and particularly women and children, at transit points and international borders.
He highlighted the challenges that smuggling of migrants by criminal organizations poses to authorities attempting to ensure orderly migration, while at the same time threatening the safety of migrants and potentially subjecting them to degrading treatment.
"We must ensure that border points do not become a no man's land for the vulnerable," Mr Fedotov said.
He noted that UNODC, as the guardian of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, supports national actors to fulfil their obligations to ensure that human rights protection is integrated into criminal justice responses to human trafficking and migrant smuggling, while recognizing the pressures state authorities must deal with at international borders.
"Criminalizing smuggling can serve to protect migrants and to prevent human rights violations by deterring smugglers and organized criminal groups. But the focus must be kept on finding and prosecuting the real criminals," said Mr. Fedotov.