Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director

 

High-level Event on ‘Accelerating the level of commitment to fight Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery during COVID-19 and beyond’

 22 November 2021

Excellencies, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am pleased to address this high-level event on trafficking in persons, and I wish to thank Austria, Bangladesh, the European Union, Nigeria, Qatar, and the United Kingdom, for sponsoring it. 

Trafficking in persons is a crime that should not exist today.  

Yet people continue to be trafficked across the world, and the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened vulnerabilities further still.  

We need urgent action to step up our support. 

Firstly, we need to protect people in mixed migration flows, and to reduce vulnerabilities to trafficking by enhancing pathways for regular migration.  

UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020 found that migrants make up more than one-third of the total share of detected victims globally, and they account for the majority of victims in some regions. 

Secondly, we need to counter the use of new technologies by traffickers.  

More time spent online during lockdowns has meant more opportunities to manipulate and exploit victims, particularly children. 

And thirdly, we need to protect and help victims, and not punish them. 

Victims and survivors often suffer terrible abuse by their traffickers, and the pandemic has only made it more difficult to provide them with assistance. 

To make matters worse, many victims find themselves detained, prosecuted, and punished for acts committed as a consequence of being trafficked. 

It is crucial to uphold the principle of non-punishment of victims of trafficking, and to support them.  

At our meeting of the principals of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking on the 15th of November, we reaffirmed the call for prioritized action to address these challenges. 

As guardian to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its trafficking Protocol, UNODC is helping countries develop victim-centered responses to trafficking both online and offline, across the criminal justice system.  

Today, states will be adopting a strong political declaration reinforcing the world’s commitment to fighting trafficking in persons. 

UNODC will support your efforts to act on the declaration and end this crime, for the protection of people everywhere. 

Thank you.