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New UN report urges stronger measures to combat human trafficking

New UN report urges stronger measures to combat human trafficking

The international community must take stronger measures against human trafficking, including shoring up law enforcement and judicial means of combating the practice, according to a new report by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan released today in New York.

"Despite the actions taken at the national, regional and international levels on the issue of trafficking in persons, particularly in women and girls, and on sexual exploitation of women and girls, there is still much to be done by governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and academic institutions," Mr. Annan writes in his report, which will be discussed by the General Assembly when it convenes this Fall.

The report calls for "political will and commitment on the part of governments to combat trafficking in human beings, particularly in women and girls." It urges a collaborative approach involving judicial and law enforcement personnel, migration authorities, NGOs and civil society, in developing a comprehensive strategy to tackle the scourge.

"Measures to discourage traffickers should be introduced and victims of trafficking should be protected and assisted, including through the provision of legal and physical assistance, as well as health care," the report states, pointing out that programmes aimed at assisting victims should include training for police officers, government officials and customs and border police.

The report also reviews a wide range of UN activities aimed at fighting the menace. The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations has implemented several initiatives to combat trafficking in women and girls, including the adoption by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) of a regulation, which makes the offence punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

The UN Centre for International Crime Prevention, which provides technical assistance focused on the criminal justice component of trafficking, helped formulate an action plan against the practice for members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). For its part, the International Labour Organization (ILO) continued its work on trafficking in the context of bonded labour, child and migrant workers, including through monitoring of the implementation of the agency's treaty banning the worst forms of child labour.