Director General/Executive Director
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us for the launch of the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.
This is the third report since the General Assembly entrusted UNODC with this research in 2010, under the UN Global Plan of Action to combat human trafficking.
The report comes at a crucial time, when the international community has, more than ever, recognized the gravity of the trafficking problem, and its linkages with some of the greatest challenges that we face.
Yesterday, the UN Security Council conducted a high-level, ground breaking debate on trafficking in persons in conflict situations.
The 2030 Agenda explicitly links combating human trafficking with achieving sustainable development.
The New York Declaration adopted at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September recognized that refugees and migrants in large movements are at risk, and that states need to vigorously combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling as part of comprehensive responses.
These connections between trafficking in persons, migration and conflict are the focus of the 2016 report's thematic chapter.
The report finds that cross-border trafficking flows often resemble regular migration flows.
Moreover, migrants from countries with a high level of organized crime, or that are affected by conflicts, are more vulnerable to trafficking, as well as violence, abuse and other forms of exploitation.
Those escaping war and persecution are being victimized by criminals in horrifying new ways.
There has been a sharp increase in Syrian trafficking victims. Victims from Sub-Saharan Africa were detected by 69 countries during the reporting period.
The report details accounts of smuggled migrants being subjected to torture, extortion and trafficking for organ removal on some African routes.
Armed groups are also engaging in trafficking in their territories of operation, coercing women and girls into marriages or sexual slavery, and pressing men and boys to act as forced labour or combatants.
Nadia Murad, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, has told her heartbreaking account of being enslaved by ISIL terrorists who took her and thousands of Yazidi women captive in Iraq.
At the same time, I want to emphasize that trafficking is not something happening far away from any of us, or only in situations of acute crisis.
More than 500 different trafficking flows, within and across borders and regions, were detected between 2012 and 2014.
The share of domestic trafficking cases, carried out within a country's borders, has increased significantly in recent years, accounting for some 42 per cent of detected victims.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labour remain the most prominently detected forms, but victims are also being trafficked to be used as beggars, for forced or sham marriages, benefit fraud, or production of pornography.
Some 79 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are women and children.
These human trafficking flows represent a criminal web that no part of the world escapes.
The 2016 report reinforces the need for all countries to stand and act together against human trafficking in the spirit of shared responsibility.
Now with the 2030 Agenda and New York Declaration, we have clear commitment to addressing trafficking as part of comprehensive responses to development and migration.
The Security Council has recognized that efforts to maintain international peace and security must also confront human trafficking.
Backing these pledges are strong existing frameworks that nearly every country in the world has committed to, namely the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.
Some 158, or 88 per cent, of countries have criminalized human trafficking, in line with the Protocol. This is a huge improvement since 2003, when only 18 per cent of countries had such laws on their books.
Nevertheless, as we highlighted in the last report, the rate of convictions remains far too low, and victims are not always receiving the protection and services countries are obliged to provide.
Of the 136 covered, 40 per cent reported ten or fewer convictions per year from 2012 to 2014. Some 15 per cent of countries did not record a single conviction.
More resources clearly need to be devoted to identify and assist victims, as well as improve criminal justice responses to detect, investigate and successfully prosecute cases.
Such responses must be more strategic, targeting upstream organized criminal networks through intelligence sharing, joint operations, financial investigations and coordination within and across borders.
The research and analysis contained in this report can inform efforts, and assist countries in monitoring their progress in meeting SDG anti-trafficking targets and other commitments.
UNODC will also continue to provide practical support to implement UNTOC and the Protocol, to help countries make good on their promises to confront the criminals, protect trafficking victims and, we hope, prevent more women, men and children from being victimized.