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"
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).
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