8 April 2008 - A month after attending the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, under the umbrella of the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin recently visited Cambodia to promote the fight against this heinous crime.
The singer learned of the country's situation during the Vienna Forum, where together with other artists and policymakers he joined in an appeal to recognise the scale and prevalence of human trafficking, and for coordinated action to fight it. "Human trafficking is a violation of human rights; it has no place in our world and I beg you to act now," he said in the Forum's opening session.
A 2006 UNODC report titled Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns ranks Cambodia high as an origin and destination country for human trafficking victims. The majority are adult women exploited in the sex trade and children trapped into forced labour.
After hearing about the country's plight, Angel Saltos , Executive Director of the Ricky Martin Foundation, said the artist "wanted to see (the situation) for himself."
During his visit, Martin met with Interior Minister Sar Kheng and visited various NGO projects addressing child trafficking and sexual exploitation. One of these included a victim's rescue center run by Afesip, a French NGO that also attended the Vienna Forum. Speaking to sheltered victims, the artist assured them he would not stop his work to combat trafficking. "I'm not going to stop. All of you are my heroes."
Martin praised the work of so many organizations active in eradicating trafficking. He said that the existence of 200 non-governmental groups working on the issue was astonishing. Martin assured he would use what he learned in Cambodia to "motivate people, organizations and governments in Latin America" where his work has so far focused.