UN rights commission to appoint expert on human trafficking

20 April 2004

With the numbers of women and children coerced into smugglers’ networks reaching into the hundreds of thousands per year, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has voted to appoint a Special Rapporteur on trafficking in human beings to focus on protecting the rights of actual and potential victims.

With the numbers of women and children coerced into smugglers’ networks reaching into the hundreds of thousands per year, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has voted to appoint a Special Rapporteur on trafficking in human beings to focus on protecting the rights of actual and potential victims.

During the three-year assignment, the Special Rapporteur would present an annual report to the Commission, starting with its next session in 2005, the panel said yesterday as it approved measures on economic, social and cultural rights.

A protocol preventing, suppressing and punishing global trafficking in human beings entered into force on 25 December 2003, as a supplement to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order-bride catalogues and casual acquaintances,” UNODC noted. “Upon arrival at their destinations, victims are placed in conditions controlled by traffickers while they are exploited to earn illicit revenues.”

The Geneva-based Commission, in a separate resolution, called on governments to criminalize human trafficking, wherever that was still necessary, and offer victims of such exploitation the possibility of recovering damages for their suffering.

Legal systems should not prosecute victims for illegally entering and living in the countries where the smugglers had left them, however, it said.

“Economic and sexual slavery is a highly lucrative global industry controlled by powerful criminal organizations, such as the Yakuza, the Triads and the Mafia,” UNODC said. “These groups amass an estimated $7 billion a year while making use of electronic technology to expand their networks in both developed and developing nations.”

The Commission said Governments should take steps to prevent human trafficking by encouraging the private sector, especially tourism industries and Internet providers, to develop codes of good conduct and strengthen self-regulation.

In this regard, it said, Governments should also actively “combat use of the Internet to facilitate trafficking in persons” and address the root causes of trafficking of human beings, especially of women and children.

 

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