Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim’s rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation. Human trafficking is the trade in people, especially women and children, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), forced labor alone (one component of human trafficking) generates an estimated $150 billion in profits per annum as of 2014. In 2012, the I.L.O. estimated that 21 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 14.2 million (68%) were exploited for labor, 4.5 million (22%) were sexually exploited, and 2.2 million (10%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.
Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations.
Human trafficking is condemned as a violation of human rights by international conventions. In addition, human trafficking is subject to a directive in the European Union.
Although human trafficking can occur at local levels, it has transnational implications, as recognized by the United Nations in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol or the Palermo Protocol), an international agreement under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) which entered into force on 25 December 2003. The protocol is one of three which supplement the CTOC. The Trafficking Protocol is the first global, legally binding instrument on trafficking in over half a century, and the only one with an agreed-upon definition of trafficking in persons. One of its purposes is to facilitate international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting such trafficking. Another is to protect and assist human trafficking’s victims with full respect for their rights as established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Trafficking Protocol, which now has 169 parties, defines human trafficking as:
(a) […] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal, manipulation or implantation of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article;
(d) “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.
In 2014, the International Labour Organization estimated $150 billion in annual profit is generated from forced labor alone.
The average cost of a human trafficking victim today is USD $90 whereas the average slave in 1800 America cost the equivalent to USD $40,000.
Human trafficking differs from people smuggling, which involves a person voluntarily requesting or hiring another individual to covertly transport them across an international border, usually because the smuggled person would be denied entry into a country by legal channels. Though illegal, there may be no deception or coercion involved. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way. According to the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), people smuggling is a violation of national immigration laws of the destination country, and does not require violations of the rights of the smuggled person. Human trafficking, on the other hand, is a crime against a person because of the violation of the victim’s rights through coercion and exploitation. Unlike most cases of people smuggling, victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination.
While smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Trafficked people are held against their will through acts of coercion, and forced to work for or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work or services may include anything from bonded or forced labor to commercial sexual exploitation. The arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment, or on terms which are highly exploitative. Sometimes the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt.
Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become “bonded” when their labor, the labor they themselves hired and the tangible goods they bought are demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. Generally, the value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed.”
Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment; their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates 31 billion USD according to the International Labour Organization. Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude, agricultural labor, sweatshop factory labor, janitorial, food service and other service industry labor, and begging. Some of the products that can be produced by forced labor are: clothing, cocoa, bricks, coffee, cotton, and gold.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the single largest global provider of services to victims of trafficking, reports receiving an increasing number of cases in which victims were subjected to forced labor. A 2012 study observes that “… 2010 was particularly notable as the first year in which IOM assisted more victims of labor trafficking than those who had been trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation.”
Child labour is a form of work that may be hazardous to the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and can interfere with their education. According to the International Labour Organization, the global number of children involved in child labor has fallen during the past decade – it has declined by one third, from 246 million in 2000 to 168 million children in 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest incidence of child labour, while the largest numbers of child-workers are found in Asia and the Pacific.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has further assisted many non-governmental organizations in their fight against human trafficking. The 2006 armed conflict in Lebanon, which saw 300,000 domestic workers from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and the Philippines jobless and targets of traffickers, led to an emergency information campaign with NGO Caritas Migrant to raise human-trafficking awareness. Additionally, an April 2006 report, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, helped to identify 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries and 137 destination countries for human trafficking. To date, it is the second most frequently downloaded UNODC report. Continuing into 2007, UNODC supported initiatives like the Community Vigilance project along the border between India and Nepal, as well as provided subsidy for NGO trafficking prevention campaigns in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Public service announcements have also proved useful for organizations combating human trafficking. In addition to many other endeavors, UNODC works to broadcast these announcements on local television and radio stations across the world. By providing regular access to information regarding human-trafficking, individuals are educated how to protect themselves and their families from being exploited.
The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) was conceived to promote the global fight on human trafficking, on the basis of international agreements reached at the UN. UN.GIFT was launched in March 2007 by UNODC with a grant made on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. It is managed in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Within UN.GIFT, UNODC launched a research exercise to gather primary data on national responses to trafficking in persons worldwide. This exercise resulted in the publication of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in February 2009. The report gathers official information for 155 countries and territories in the areas of legal and institutional framework, criminal justice response and victim assistance services. UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders — governments, business, academia, civil society and the media — to support each other’s work, create new partnerships, and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.
The Global Initiative is based on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with successfully by any government alone. This global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world. To pave the way for this strategy, stakeholders must coordinate efforts already underway, increase knowledge and awareness, provide technical assistance, promote effective rights-based responses, build capacity of state and non-state stakeholders, foster partnerships for joint action, and above all, ensure that everybody takes responsibility for this fight. By encouraging and facilitating cooperation and coordination, UN.GIFT aims to create synergies among the anti-trafficking activities of UN agencies, international organizations and other stakeholders to develop the most efficient and cost-effective tools and good practices.
UN.GIFT aims to mobilize state and non-state actors to eradicate human trafficking by reducing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms, ensuring adequate protection and support to those who fall victim, and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved, while respecting the fundamental human rights of all persons. In carrying out its mission, UN.GIFT will increase the knowledge and awareness on human trafficking, promote effective rights-based responses, build capacity of state and non-state actors, and foster partnerships for joint action against human trafficking. For more information view the UN.GIFT Progress Report 2009. UNODC efforts to motivate action launched the Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking on 6 March 2009, which Mexico launched its own national version of in April 2010. The campaign encourages people to show solidarity with human trafficking victims by wearing the blue heart, similar to how wearing the red ribbon promotes transnational HIV/AIDS awareness. On 4 November 2010, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons to provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of human trafficking with the aim of increasing the number of those rescued and supported, and broadening the extent of assistance they receive.
In December 2012, UNODC published the new edition of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. The Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012 has revealed that 27 per cent of all victims of human trafficking officially detected globally between 2007 and 2010 are children, up 7 per cent from the period 2003 to 2006.
The Global Report recorded victims of 136 different nationalities detected in 118 countries between 2007 and 2010, during which period, 460 different flows were identified. Around half of all trafficking took place within the same region with 27 per cent occurring within national borders. One exception is the Middle East, where most detected victims are East and South Asians. Trafficking victims from East Asia have been detected in more than 60 countries, making them the most geographically dispersed group around the world. There are significant regional differences in the detected forms of exploitation. Countries in Africa and in Asia generally intercept more cases of trafficking for forced labour, while sexual exploitation is somewhat more frequently found in Europe and in the Americas. Additionally, trafficking for organ removal was detected in 16 countries around the world.The Report raises concerns about low conviction rates – 16 per cent of reporting countries did not record a single conviction for trafficking in persons between 2007 and 2010. As of November 2015, 169 countries have ratified the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol, of which UNODC is the guardian. Significant progress has been made in terms of legislation: as of 2012, 83 per cent of countries had a law criminalizing trafficking in persons in accordance with the Protocol.
In 2002, Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon founded a non-government organization called Polaris Project to combat human trafficking. In 2007, Polaris instituted the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) where callers can report tips and receive information on human trafficking. Polaris’ website and hotline informs the public about where cases of suspected human trafficking have occurred within the United States. The website records calls on a map.
In 2007, the U.S. Senate designated 11 January as a National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness in an effort to raise consciousness about this global, national and local issue. In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, President Barack Obama proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Along with these initiatives libraries across the United States are beginning to contribute to human trafficking awareness. Slowly, libraries are turning into educational centers for those who are not aware of this issue. They are collaborating with other organizations to train staff members to spot human trafficking victims and find ways to help them.
In 2014, DARPA funded the Memex program with the explicit goal of combating human trafficking via domain-specific search. The advanced search capacity, including its ability to reach into the dark web has already allowed for prosecution of human trafficking cases.
Because of its size and the access to its large airport, Atlanta, Georgia is known as the core of trafficking in the United States. A 2014 study by Urban Institute showed that some traffickers, or “pimps”, in Atlanta grossed over $32,000 in one week.
Council of Europe Edit
On 3 May 2005, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS No. 197). The Convention was opened for signature in Warsaw on 16 May 2005 on the occasion of the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe. On 24 October 2007, the Convention received its tenth ratification thereby triggering the process whereby it entered into force on 1 February 2008. As of May 2016, the Convention has been ratified by 46 states, with another one having signed but not yet ratified.
While other international instruments already exist in this field, the Council of Europe Convention, the first European treaty in this field, is a comprehensive treaty focusing mainly on the protection of victims of trafficking and the safeguard of their rights. It also aims to prevent trafficking and to prosecute traffickers. In addition, the Convention provides for the setting up of an effective and independent monitoring mechanism capable of controlling the implementation of the obligations contained in the Convention.
The Convention is not restricted to Council of Europe member states; non-member states and the European Union also have the possibility of becoming Party to the Convention. In 2013 Belarus became the first non-Council of Europe member state to accede to the Convention.
The Convention established a Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) which monitors the implementation of the Convention through country reports. As of 1 March 2013, GRETA has published 17 country reports.
Complementary protection against sex trafficking of children is ensured through the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (signed in Lanzarote, 25 October 2007). The Convention entered into force on 1 July 2010. As of May 2016, the Convention has been ratified by 41 states, with another 6 states having signed but not yet ratified.
In addition, the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg has passed judgments concerning trafficking in human beings which violated obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights: Siliadin v. France, judgment of 26 July 2005, and Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, judgment of 7 January 2010.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Edit
Main article: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
In 2003, the OSCE established an anti-trafficking mechanism aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating states to tackle it effectively.
The OSCE actions against human trafficking are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative for Combating the Traffic of Human Beings. In January 2010, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro became the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. Dr. Giammarinaro (Italy) has been a judge at the Criminal Court of Rome since 1991. She served from 2006 until 2009 in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security in Brussels, where she was responsible for work to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, as well as for penal aspects of illegal immigration within the unit dealing with the fight against organized crime. During this time, she co-ordinated the Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings of the European Commission. From 2001 to 2006 she was a judge for preliminary investigation in the Criminal Court of Rome. Prior to that, from 1996 she was Head of the Legislative Office and Adviser to the Minister for Equal Opportunities. From 2006 to December 2009 the office was headed by Eva Biaudet, a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Health and Social Services in her native Finland.
The activities of the Office of the Special Representative range from training law enforcement agencies to tackle human trafficking to promoting policies aimed at rooting out corruption and organised crime. The Special Representative also visits countries and can, on their request, support the formation and implementation of their anti-trafficking policies. In other cases the Special Representative provides advice regarding implementation of the decisions on human trafficking, and assists governments, ministers and officials to achieve their stated goals of tackling human trafficking.
In India, the trafficking in persons for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, forced marriages and domestic servitude is considered an organized crime. The Government of India applies the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, active from 3 February 2013, as well as Section 370 and 370A IPC, which defines human trafficking and “provides stringent punishment for human trafficking; trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation; or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude or the forced removal of organs.” Additionally, a Regional Task Force implements the SAARC Convention on the prevention of Trafficking in Women and Children.
Shri R.P.N.Singh, India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, launched a government web portal, the Anti Human Trafficking Portal, on 20 February 2014. The official statement explained that the objective of the on-line resource is for the “sharing of information across all stakeholders, States/UTs[Union Territories] and civil society organizations for effective implementation of Anti Human Trafficking measures.” The key aims of the portal are:
Aid in the tracking of cases with inter-state ramifications.
Provide comprehensive information on legislation, statistics, court judgements, United Nations Conventions, details of trafficked people and traffickers and rescue success stories.
Provide connection to “Trackchild”, the National Portal on Missing Children that is operational in many states.
Also on 20 February, the Indian government announced the implementation of a Comprehensive Scheme that involves the establishment of Integrated Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in 335 vulnerable police districts throughout India, as well as capacity building that includes training for police, prosecutors and judiciary. As of the announcement, 225 Integrated AHTUs had been made operational, while 100 more AHTUs were proposed for the forthcoming financial year.
The Anti-trafficking Policy Index Edit
The ‘3P Anti-trafficking Policy Index’ measures the effectiveness of government policies to fight human trafficking based on an evaluation of policy requirements prescribed by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000).
The policy level is evaluated using a five-point scale, where a score of five indicates the best policy practice, while score 1 is the worst. This scale is used to analyze the main three anti-trafficking policy areas: (i) prosecuting (criminalizing) traffickers, (ii) protecting victims, and (iii) preventing the crime of human trafficking. Each sub-index of prosecution, protection and prevention is aggregated to the overall index with an unweighted sum, with the overall index ranging from a score of 3 (worst) to 15 (best). It is available for up to 177 countries over the 2000-2009 period (on an annual basis).
The outcome of the Index shows that anti-trafficking policy has overall improved over the 2000-2009 period. Improvement is most prevalent in the prosecution and prevention areas worldwide. An exception is protection policy, which shows a modest deterioration in recent years.
In 2009 (the most recent year of the evaluation), seven countries demonstrate the highest possible performance in policies for all three dimensions (overall score 15). These countries are Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Sweden and the US. The second best performing group (overall score 14) consists of France, Norway, South Korea, Croatia, Canada, Austria, Slovenia and Nigeria. The worst performing country in 2009 was North Korea, receiving the lowest score in all dimensions (overall score 3), followed by Somalia. For more information view the Human Trafficking Research and Measurement website.
In 2014, for the first time in history major leaders of many religions, Buddhist, Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim, met to sign a shared commitment against modern-day slavery; the declaration they signed calls for the elimination of slavery and human trafficking by the year 2020. The signatories were: Pope Francis, Mātā Amṛtānandamayī (also known as Amma), Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chân Không (representing Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh), Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana, Chief High Priest of Malaysia, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Rabbi David Rosen, Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif (representing Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar), Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi, Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah (representing Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi), Sheikh Omar Abboud, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.)
Anti-trafficking initiatives Edit
One of the organizations taking the most active part in the anti-trafficking is the United Nations. In early 2016 the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations held an interactive discussion entitled “Responding to Current Challenges in Trafficking in Human Beings”.
One of the current efforts being done to combat human trafficking is an app called TraffickCam. This app was created by the Exchange Initiative and researchers at Washington University. TraffckCam was launched on June 20, 2016 and enables anyone to take photos of their hotel rooms, which then gets uploaded to a large database of hotel images. Since human trafficking victims are often found in hotel rooms for online advertisements, law enforcement and investigators can use these photos to help find and prosecute traffickers.
Anti-trafficking awareness and fundraising campaigns constitute a significant portion of anti-trafficking initiatives. The 24 Hour Race is one such initiative that focuses on increasing awareness among high school students in Asia. The Blue Campaign is another anti-trafficking initiative that works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to combat human trafficking and bring freedom to exploited victims.
The Blue Campaign collaborates with law enforcement, government, non-governmental, and private organizations to end human trafficking and protect victims.
Vulnerable Groups Edit
Trafficking in Persons Report released in June of 2016 states that “refugees and migrants; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals; religious minorities; people with disabilities; and those who are stateless” are the most at-risk for human trafficking. Governments best protect victims from being exploited when the needs of vulnerable populations are understood.