Vienna, 30 July 2014 - With today marking the first ever World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the United Nations says that despite progress having been made over the past decade in tackling human trafficking, convictions remain low in many countries, and people, especially children, continue to be particularly vulnerable to this perfidious trade.
With millions of people being trafficked each year, not a single day goes by without a fresh report of women, men and children being sold and forced to work in sweatshops, fields and brothels. Organized criminal groups continue to generate billions of dollars by preying on people's hope for a better life. The World Day is being marked today to raise awareness about this crime, and to send a message of hope to all its victims.
A major step forward in tackling this crime is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which came into force a decade ago. This international instrument called for all acts of human trafficking to be criminalized for the first time, including trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour, organ removal, domestic servitude and other slavery-like practices.
When the Protocol was adopted in 2003, less than half of countries in the world had legislation criminalizing human trafficking. Now more than 90 per cent of countries do.
Yet despite encouraging progress, legislation in some countries does not always comply with the Protocol and fails to cover all forms of trafficking and their victims, leaving billions of people inadequately protected and vulnerable.
Convictions reported globally, for example, remain extremely low: UNODC's forthcoming 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons shows that some 15 per cent of countries did not record a single conviction between 2010 and 2012, while 25 per cent only recorded between one and 10 convictions.
"This is of great concern because convictions not only ensure that the offenders have to answer for their crimes, but send an important signal to criminals - for whom human trafficking is a low-risk, high-profit activity - that this violation will not be tolerated," said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
UNODC's 2012 Global Trafficking in Persons Report found that the vast majority of trafficked persons are women, accounting for 55 to 60 per cent of victims detected globally. Recent data from the forthcoming report, however, suggest that more and more detected victims are children, particularly girls under the age of 18. Together, women and children account for three quarters of identified victims.
"Enforcement, cross-border cooperation and information-sharing can all be effective, but ending human trafficking also means tackling the root causes," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his statement to mark the World Day. "Extreme poverty, entrenched inequality and a lack of education and opportunity create the vulnerabilities that traffickers exploit - ultimately, the best protection is to accelerate development for all," he continued.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted on 30 July 2010 a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which gave further impetus to UN efforts to tackle this crime. As part of this, it established the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, which gives grants to non-governmental organizations that provide direct assistance to victims from human trafficking. The Trust Fund launched today its second call for proposals through its Small Grants Facility, which will be opened until 30 September 2014.
For further information, please contact:
Public Information Officer, UNODC
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