Despite all of the positive effects of migration, the unprecedented flow of people is generating new criminal opportunities, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said today at a high-level event on the recently launched UN-European Union initiative aimed at curbing human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
“At-risk migrants, especially children, have become easy targets for abuse and exploitation, and clearly more needs to be done to reduce vulnerabilities, enhance protection and stop the criminals,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
“The continuing crises which we're witnessing makes it even more critical that we take steps to address these shortcomings and strengthen criminal justice responses,” he added
Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (2015-2019), or GLO.ACT, aims to prevent and address the two crimes within 13 strategically selected countries by identifying proven good practices and lessons learned. These nations are Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa and Ukraine.
The event was held in Vienna, Austria, on the side-lines of this week's 25th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).
“Together with UNODC we can stop a culture of impunity for those who treat human beings as commodities,” said EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Myria Vassiliadou.
The current migration and refugee crisis has made it all the more important to jointly and comprehensively address these distinct, yet often overlapping, complex crimes. Criminal networks seize opportunities to generate illicit profits at the expense of States and people and right now, organized crime groups are taking advantage of the gaps that exist in the laws, strategies and operational capacities of States.
The four-year initiative marks a significant milestone in the global fight against trafficking and smuggling, and being delivered in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
UNODC's work, moreover, is directly relevant to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration, such as through decreasing profit opportunities for criminal networks, the provision of access to justice for all, and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.