Why setting up a network of labour inspectors will help combat human trafficking in Colombia

Bogota, Colombia 5 July 2017 - The 2016 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons identifies that in South America about 30 per cent of the detected victims were trafficked for forced labour. Over the past few years the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), together with the Ministry of Labour of Colombia, have been working on finding suitable ways in order to strengthen labour inspection authorities with regards to victim identification, and their response to cases of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for the purpose of forced labour.

Therefore, under GLO.ACT, the first national meeting of labour inspectors and other government authorities took place on 6-7 June 2017 in Bogota. The aim of this meeting was to:

  • Facilitate discussion around TIP and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM);
  • Learn from some of the best practices applied in other Latin American countries;
  • Strengthen the capacity of the Colombian labour authorities and others at central and regional level.

During his opening speech, Mr. José Guillermo Gándara, Viceminster of Labour in Guatemala, said that: "The Ministry of Labour should propose and coordinate, in collaboration with the other competent authorities, mechanisms for the prevention of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, since these heinous crimes violate the human rights of people."

Mr. Milthon Mora, Coordinator of the Labour Mobility Area at the Ministry of Labour in Colombia said: "Trafficking is estimated to generate $32 billion annually. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 12.3 million people suffer from work situations similar to slavery."

We are delighted that the first labour inspector meeting resulted in the creation of the National Network of Labour Inspectors on Human Trafficking. The aim of the network is to be able to strengthen capacity at local level for labour inspectors to better identify, during their visits to ensure fair working conditions, any signs of human trafficking. Furthermore, for the inspectors to be able to activate a referral mechanism, within the ministry and other relevant authorities, so that investigations and prosecutions can take place where applicable.  

Concluding the meeting, participants agreed to hold a second meeting during the second half of 2017. The aim of that meeting would be to develop an action plan for the coming years and to build a tool for labour inspectors to better identify cases of human trafficking.

Representatives belonging to various ministries and agencies of the Colombian government attended the meeting such as the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry Foreign Affairs. Representatives from the Political Section of the European Union Delegation to Colombia also attended the opening ceremony as well as Ms. Fernanda Dos Anjos, Consultant at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and Ms. Teresa Torres, Project Coordinator for the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Andean Countries Office.


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