Trafficking in human beings: ‘all-out attack’ on rights, security and dignity, says UN chief |

“Tragically, it is also a problem that is getting worse – particularly for women and girls, who represent the majority of recorded victims of human trafficking around the world.”

Disconnected and vulnerable

Conflict, displacement, climate change, inequality and poverty have left millions of people around the world destitute, isolated and vulnerable.

And the COVID-19 The pandemic has generally separated children and teens from their friends and peers, pushing them to spend more time alone and online.

“Human traffickers exploit these vulnerabilities by using sophisticated technologies to identify, track, control and exploit victims,” ​​the UN chief said.

IOM Port of Spain

Venezuelan migrant Manuela Molina (not her real name) was promised a decent job in Trinidad but minutes after arriving she was forced into a van and taken to an undisclosed location.

cyberspace trade

Online platforms, often using the so-called “dark web”, allow criminals to recruit people with false promises.

and Technology anonymously allows dangerous and degrading content that fuels human traffickingincluding the sexual exploitation of children.

This year’s theme – Use and Abuse of Technology – reminds everyone that while technology can enable human trafficking, it can also be a crucial tool in combating it.

combine forces

The Secretary-General underscored the need for governments, businesses and civil society to invest in policies, laws and technology-based solutions that can identify and support victims, track down and punish offenders, and ensure a safe, open and secure Internet.

“As part of 2023 summit of the futureI have proposed a Global Digital Compact to engage the world in the need for good governance in the digital space,” he said, urging everyone to “give this issue the attention and action it deserves and work to the scourge of ending human trafficking once and for all”.

Technical hazards

In her message for the day, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, spoke more on the subject.

Acknowledging that digital technology has been “a vital lifeline” during the pandemic restrictions, she warned that it is “increasingly being exploited by criminals”.

The borderless nature of information and communication technologies (ICT) allows traffickers to expand their reach and profits with even greater impunity.

More than 60 percent of known victims of human trafficking over the past 15 years have been women and girls, most of whom have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.

And as conflict and crisis increase misery, countless others risk being targeted with false promises of opportunity, jobs and a better life.

Protect online spaces

To protect people Digital spaces must be protected from criminal abuse by making technology usable forever.

“Partnering with technology companies and the private sector can deter traffickers from preying on the vulnerable and stop the proliferation of online content that increases the suffering of trafficking victims,” said Ms Waly.

With the right support, law enforcement agencies can use artificial intelligence, data mining, and other tools to uncover and investigate human trafficking networks.

“On this World Day Against Human Trafficking, let us help prevent online exploitation and promote the power of technology to better protect children, women and men and support victims,” ​​she concluded.

human trafficking in conflict

A group of UN-appointed independent human rights experts stressed that the international community must “strengthen prevention and accountability for trafficking in conflict situations”.

Women and girls, particularly displaced persons, are disproportionately affected by human trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced and child marriage, forced labor and domestic servitude.

“These risks of exploitation that arise in times of crisis are not new. They are linked to and result from existing, structural inequalities, often based on intersectional identities, gender discrimination and violence, racism, poverty and weaknesses in child protection systems,” the experts say said.

Structural inequalities

Refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons and stateless persons are particularly vulnerable to attacks and kidnapping, which lead to human trafficking.

And the dangers are compounded by persistent restrictions on protection and assistance, limited resettlement and family reunification, inadequate job security and restrictive migration policies.

“Such structural inequalities are exacerbated in the pre-, during and post-conflict periods and disproportionately affect children,” they added.

target schools

Despite links between the activities of armed groups and human trafficking – particularly against children – “accountability remains low and prevention is weak,” according to the UN experts.

Child trafficking – often against schools – is “linked to serious abuses against children in situations of armed conflict, including recruitment and deployment, kidnapping and sexual violence,” they said.

“Sexual violence against children persists and often leads to human trafficking for sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and marriage, forced labor and domestic servitude.”

For captions and text in our PHOTOSTORY below, please click on the “i” in the top left of the photo.

gender stereotypes

While girls are more often trafficked for sexual exploitation, boys do not escape the scourge.

Gender stereotypes and discrimination can result in men and boys not being identified as victims, leaving them without help or protection.

“Men and boys may face additional barriers in disclosing experiences of exploitation, particularly sexual exploitation,” they said, noting the need to recognize that discriminatory attitudes and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity increase risk, no help or no protection.

organ harvesting

The experts also stressed that organ harvesting in conflict situations is another problem, along with law enforcement’s inability to regulate and control the finances of armed groups and other traffickers — domestically and across borders.

“We have seen what can be achieved through coordinated action and a political will to prevent trafficking in conflict situations,” they said, arguing for international protection, family reunification, and expanded resettlement and planned resettlement opportunities.

Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue or situation in a country. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

click here for the names of the experts.

Protection services “severely deficient”

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCRwarned on Friday that protection services for refugees and migrants making dangerous journeys from the Sahel and Horn of Africa to North Africa and Europe, including human trafficking survivors, are “severely lacking”.

The newly released report details the protection services available to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants on these routes.

It also highlights protection gaps in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Somalia and Sudan – particularly in relation to shelter, identification of survivors and responses to gender-based violence and human trafficking .

“I am appalled at the mistreatment that refugees and migrants face as they travel through the Sahel and East and the Horn of Africa to North Africa and sometimes further into Europe.” said UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central and Western Mediterranean, Vincent Cochetel. “Too many lives have been lost or broken on these routes.”


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