MEXICO CITY - 14 April 2010. Mexico today took the lead in putting human trafficking on the global agenda, launching its own national-led United Nations "Blue Heart" campaign against human trafficking.
President Felipe Calderón of Mexico and Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched the Mexico campaign in Mexico City.
Launching the campaign President Calderón said, "It is an honour for Mexicans to be the first country on the American continent and in the world to join and launch from here this important prevention campaign, and raise awareness about this crime of human trafficking.
We have to act now in raising awareness in the whole of society, we have to act now with the determination to put an end to inhuman practices which turn people into merchandise, because human beings are not and cannot be for sale."
Traffickers seek out vulnerable victims, and coerce them for the purpose of exploitation. "I was blindfolded and forced into a car," says Maria (not her real name), an 8-year old girl who was forcibly removed from her home in Guatemala by a child trafficking ring and taken to a brothel in Cancun two years ago. Maria is now taking refuge in a shelter for human trafficking survivors in Mexico City.
Developed in partnership with UNODC, the campaign calls on all sectors of Mexican society to help mobilize social conscience against this crime against human dignity. As part of the campaign launch, over a dozen emblematic buildings were lit up in blue across Mexico City in a symbolic act to raise awareness about the "Blue Heart" campaign. The "Blue Heart" campaign aims to raise awareness of this modern form of slavery that exploits millions of people around the world, and to prevent more people from becoming victims. "I admire Mexico's leadership in fighting this modern slavery demonstrated through its strong commitment to the "Blue Heart" campaign," said Antonio Maria Costa.
Spain will be the next country to join this growing global awareness campaign under the EU Spanish Presidency in June.
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon: more than 130 countries have reported cases. It is one of the most lucrative forms of illegal activity after drug and arms trafficking. According to UN estimates, over 2.4 million persons are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking, either for sexual or labour exploitation. Other forms of human trafficking include domestic servitude, the removal of organs and the exploitation of children through begging and as child soldiers. Up to 80 percent of all human trafficking victims are women and girls.
"Much more must be done to prevent people from falling into the claws of these human predators, to bring these vultures to justice, and to protect the survivors," said Mr. Costa. "This is not just the responsibility of governments. Human trafficking is a crime that shames us all. Since almost everything we consume has been stained by the blood, sweat and tears of trafficking victims, we have a shared responsibility to act - that is why we are calling on people to join the "Blue Heart" campaign," said the head of UNODC.
"I applaud the leadership of the Mexican Government in this campaign, and for the way that Mexico's people, media, and civil society have opened their hearts. Mexico's determination to end human trafficking is an example to be followed by other countries around the world".