Sunday, 24 January 2021

UN in your language

Human Trafficking

How serious is the problem?

ht 1-1Although slavery and the slave trade were abolished in the 19th century, they have not been eradicated.
Indeed, it is one of the most flourishing and profitable businesses world wide, often quoted as the third most profitable business for organized crime after drugs and the arms trade. Modern human trafficking does however differ from the 19th century slave trade in a number of ways, including great regional variations, but it is difficult to get a precise overview over the industry due to its clandestine nature.

What is human trafficking?

Today, we refer to the slave trade as human trafficking, or trafficking in persons. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking “involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them”, and constitutes a crime against humanity.


The blue heart campaign

UN Photo: Pierre Albouy The Blue Heart Campaign is an initiative of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). It was launched in 2009, with the objective of combating human trafficking and its impact on society. The Blue Heart Campaign aims to encourage the public to become involved in the eradication of this crime and to show their solidarity with the victims of human trafficking through the use of the Blue Heart.

Human trafficking is a crime that robs the individual of their rights, their dreams and their dignity. It is a global problem and no country is exempt. Every year millions of victims are trapped and exploited in what is considered a modern form of slavery. Data compiled in 2010 revealed that the total number of victims at any one time was 2.5 million. Trafficking affects every region of the world and generates tens of billions of dollars in profits for criminals each year.


Illegal adoption

Chinese authorities have had some success in fighting illegal adoptions.  Photo: Joan VilaChina has a thriving domestic black market in children, mostly involving buyers who want them as slave labour. Most of the children are bought or kidnapped by gangs who force them into pick-pocketing and other non-violent crime in China's eastern cities. The children might also end up in a prostitution network or illegal adoption. According to a study by the University of Iowa, in November 2005, Chinese authorities uncovered a baby trafficking ring involving six orphanages and babies primarily from the southern part of the country. It is unclear how the children were obtained, but defendants claim the babies were abandoned or kidnapped.


Euro crisis force prostitutes to Norway

Photo: "Human trafficking"/ the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration New report states that there are 70 percent more women selling sexual services in Norway today than in 2009.
The prostitution arenas of larger Norwegian cities experienced an influx of Nigerian women from 2004 to 2008. This sparked an intense public and political debate whether or not to put in force a law making it illegal to purchase sex in Norway. The law states that you are allowed to sell sexual services in Norway, but since January 2009 it has been illegal for Norwegian citizens/people living in Norway to buy sexual services, whether in Norway or overseas. Buying sexual services is punishable with a fine and up to one year in prison. One of the main arguments for the new legislation was to prevent the possibility of women becoming victims of human trafficking.


Organs for sale

Caption: Vampire Food Reasearch Bag seem in a Tattoo Shop in Maidstone KentHuman trafficking is most commonly known for the severe forms of violence it entails, such as incarceration, rape, torture and sexual enslavement. But human trafficking does not stop with human beings. All over the world, the organs of human beings are being trafficked, sometimes with, and sometimes without, the consent of those to whom they belong. People are directly, or indirectly, being forced to sell their own organs for a low price, often to middlemen, who make thousands of Euros from poor vulnerable persons.

Organized crime groups lure people abroad with false promises and convince or force them to sell their organs for a low price. The recipients of the organs pay a much higher price than the donors receive. This part benefits the traffickers who are part of an organized criminal network. The trafficked organs can be acquired in many different and terrible ways. People may be kidnapped, killed and sold, especially children, for their organs. Other ways for the brokers to procure the organs are through deception or coercion. There have been cases where a victim will go to a doctor or hospital for an unrelated illness or accident, but in the hospital, the person’s kidney is removed without their knowledge or consent.


Interview with Eva Biaudet

Eva OSCEFinnish Ombudsman for Minorities and National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking
Former OSCE Special Representative on Combating Trafficking in human beings

UNRIC: Let’s talk about trafficking in general to begin with. Are there any particular similarities or differences between the European countries regarding human trafficking?

E.B: The striking fact is how similar the conditions actually are. It might be difficult to believe on a national level. There is so much we should learn from others experiences – good and bad. The “that would never happen in our country” –type of thinking is very common, but as soon as you give in to it, you are walking on thin ice. Most aspects linked to trafficking – criminality, recruitment, exploitation – are very similar in all countries. What is also similar is how difficult it is for national authorities to recognize and identify the victims. These similarities exist on all levels.


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Linda Eriksson Baca on human trafficking in the European countries


What is human trafficking?

•    An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking.
•    161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination country.
•    The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age
•    An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year
•    Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education
•    In 54% of cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of cases the recruiter was known to victim
•    Sexual exploitation is noted as by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced labour (18%).
•    Other forms of exploitation are: forced or bonded labour, domestic servitude, formed marriage, organ removal and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare
•    Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are US$ 31.6 billion
•    In 2006, there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world. This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted.
•    In 2011, the European Union adopted a Directive to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings and protect its victims.   


International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet (2007)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (Vienna, 2006)
International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
UNICEF, UK Child Trafficking Information Sheet (January 2003)
International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet (2007)  
International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
Patrick Besler, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits, working paper (Geneva, International
Labour Office, 2005)
US State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report (2007) p.36