The briefing on migration and human trafficking was done by Mrs. Anke Strauss, who is Liaison Officer at the International Organization for Migration. During a one-hour speech she gave us detailed information about the problem of trafficking in persons, its definition and problems which arise when this international criminal industry grows as it has been doing throughout the past years.
The international legal framework of human trafficking is based upon the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was adopted in 2000, and two Protocols thereto: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (called the Palermo Protocols).
According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, the definition of trafficking is: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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 labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.
The trafficking in persons and illegal migration are some of the fastest growing criminal industries worldwide. The profit for the one who gets someone in a country is high. Important is that not only women but also men and children are concerned and that the transportation of persons is not always for sexual exploitation.
Why is it still happening? The reasons go from poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities, lack of family planning to forced labor and sexual exploitation to humanitarian crises and natural disasters.
Anke Strauss gave us examples and figures, which demonstrate the importance of organizations such as the IOM and joint initiatives as the UN GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking). E.g. each year 127,000 children are being trafficked from Haiti.
The work of IOM is divided into three areas: prevention, protection and prosecution.
Prevention: In the area of prevention, it is important to inform people in the countries of origin and to raise awareness. This can be done through e.g. information campaigns, movies, etc. - part of the prevention work is data collection and research.
Protection: Often physical protection of the victims is necessary, medical support, social and legal aid for those who have escaped, (some of whom have entered legally but stayed longer). For this purpose, there are hotlines in place. It is important to inform them about their rights, to get in contact with the country of origin, and to help them to resettle or return to their country of origin, which is not always possible.
Prosecution: Here the capacity building of law enforcement officials, border guards and policemen are important, as well as the improvement of technologies. In terms of legislation, the prosecution depends on national law and the ratification of certain protocols.
Illegal migration has increasingly been a problem since the 1990s after the fall of the Iron Curtain but has already been a problem in the 19th century.
After the presentation we had the possibility to ask questions:
Which national law is going to be applied when more countries are involved?
What are the sources of information? Is there a big problem with corruption?
What happens when people with information don’t speak up?
In reducing the problem of illegal migration, it is important to work together, also when it is happening in different places and therefore more than two countries are involved.
Joint effort to provide information and the collaboration with Interpol and the national police is essential. Corruption does exist and it makes the process more difficult to get to sources of information. But deportation is more a danger when the victims don’t speak. However, a lot of them won’t speak up because they want to “turn the page” and start a new life.
What are reasons of reservation for a country not to sign or ratify international conventions?
Are there links between human trafficking and the dealing with drug and arms and organs?
What is the effect on children?
Often it is thought, that the process of ratification is a slow one, but it can be a fast process. Reasons for not ratifying a convention or a protocol are often a lack of political will or national law. Links to other illegal businesses exist but not necessarily.
Children are largely affected by human trafficking, but again not only for sexual exploitation but also more and more for forced labor.