Every year millions of people are trafficked worldwide, including in Pakistan. Trafficking can happen with people regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. Traffickers may use force, manipulation, false promises or even romantic relationships to lure their victims in.
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons (the act), by threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim (the means), for the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs (the purpose). (UNODC, n.d.)
The trauma caused to such victims is so great that they are sometimes unable to ask for help even in public or even identify themselves as victims. Recognizing the signs of a victim and creating public awareness can help combat this issue to some extent.
The Difference Between Smuggling and Human Trafficking
Smuggling and human trafficking are two very different things. Smuggling is defined as the movement or facilitation of illegal entry into a country or across international borders through violation of the countries’ laws.
People who are smuggled across borders may or may not be victims of human trafficking. In most cases, smuggling occurs as a consent between the smuggled person and the smuggler, but due to the weak position of the customer, smuggling generally transcends into grave human rights abuses including but not limited to threats, abuse, rape, exploitation and torture, and even death at the hands of smugglers. (Anon., n.d.)
The 3 most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. Sex Trafficking: Around eighty percent of the victims of sex trafficking are girls who are exploited internationally. Around One million happen to be children under the age of eighteen.
Forced labour is the most common type of human trafficking occurring worldwide. Victims may be forced into any of the following types of labor, among others:
- domestic servitude
- agricultural work
- janitorial services
- hotel services
- health and elder care
- hair and nail salons
- strip club dancing
Debt bondage is when poor persons are forced into labour to pay off a debt, which is ever increasing due to interest. ( County of San Francisco Human Rights Commission, n.d.)
Recent refugee influx has fuelled the million dollar human trafficking Network
Global refugee levels have reached record highs with people displaces due the war in Syria and Iraq, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and the recent incident of Indian Muslims being forced to Leave. With over twenty-five million people displaced who routinely face harsh living conditions, perilous journeys and difficulties form the host countries, they become an easy target for criminals looking to exploit them. Among migrants traveling to Europe through North Africa, alone, more than 70 percent have been trafficked or exploited, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Between 2012 and 2015, some Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide in Myanmar boarded ships to Malaysia or Thailand with the promise of jobs and a new life. However, they were kept as prisoners at sea and forced to fish for the traffickers. They were starved, beaten, tortured and some were even raped or killed. Recent incidents have brought to light that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya girls were taken from the camps at night with the promise of jobs in Malaysia but upon arrival were taken captive and were sexually abused for months.
In Libya, traffickers have taken advantage of the increased flow of African refugees and migrants on their way to Europe. Some customers after paying heavy fees have been abandoned in the deserts with nowhere to go. Since they do not have identification papers or VISA, they are unable to go to the authorities for help.
Armed groups impose ‘taxes’ on them to allow them to pass through their areas along the routes and some migrants have been sold to ‘open slave markets’ or held where they are subject to forced labour and sexual violence.
Corrective immigration policies and lack of entrance to safe migration methods further worsen refugees’ vulnerability to trafficking. Many victims of trafficking abstain from looking for government and law enforcement support, dreading not only arrest due to their crooked migration status, but also retaliation from their exploiters. (Web, n.d.)
The Twenty-eighth session of Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice was held in Vienna, 20–24 May 2019, titled ‘Enhancing the role of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ was adopted by the General Assembly on 17 December 2018.
The resolution invited Member States and other stakeholders to share with the Commission, through its Secretariat, views on how the CCPCJ can further contribute to the review of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On (a) Proposals relating to the organization of work of the Commission, the format of its meetings and its cooperation with other intergovernmental bodies: (included the following)
(ii) There is a need to strengthen cooperation among the relevant national institutions of the Member States in combating organized crime, terrorism, corruption and human trafficking by providing specific training for officials and facilitating legal cooperation and capacity-building at all levels in order to more effectively combat such crimes.
Efforts to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking are at the heart of initiatives to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Notably, in Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, States pledge to take immediate and effective measures to end modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030
The Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), is the primary legal instrument concerning trafficking in persons. It was adopted by the General Assembly under resolution 55/25 and came into force on 25 December 2003. However, it is noted in the preamble that despite there being a number of acts and kaws in place to deal with the exploitation of persons, especially women and children, there is infact no single ‘universal instrument’ that addresses all aspects of trafficking of people.’ It also notes that to combat the issue, a comprehensive international approach is needed to deal with human rights violations among minors, women and persons.
Previous Frameworks that had been in place before included
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979
- Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women of 1993
- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, Child Pornography of 2000.
- ILO Convention No 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour of 1999
- Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families of 1990
Which laid the basis for The Protocol against Trafficking in Persons. However, none managed to address the issue of human trafficking in isolation. i.e. Defining the term human trafficking, focusing on other forms of trafficking besides child and woman sexual exploitation and understanding the wider concept of slavery to include other types of control and bondage. (UNODC, 2009)
Flaws in the Previous Framework
In spite of these security implications, many countries policies, including the U.S. often remain detached from broader safety initiatives. For the sake of more efficiently preventing human trafficking in refugees and advancing amity and stability, the governments need to
- (a) Invest in research on the association between human trafficking, conflict, and migration; make sure that its rules on conflict and security issues better include human trafficking
- (b) Prioritize prevention, justice, and defence efforts for refugee trafficking victims and survivors.
The intersection between conflict-induced migration and human trafficking should be understood so that security efforts be in effect in a world with a huge numbers of moved people.
Significance of Border Security
Border security plays a significant role in Human trafficking- whether in preventing it or promulgating it. However, the technical ability of border guards to deal with the issue is often inadequate and needs improvement. For example the border security in many states in the US have no record-keeping, whether manual or digital and neither are any telecommunication facilities in place. Border control units often lack the funding, expertise and infrastructure. Criminals make full use of the situation to get past. The situation could be improved by improving coordination among different units of border control agencies and taking measures that permit border control to temporarily keep in detention persons without national identification or visas. Another important step would be not prosecute trafficked persons for their illegal entry or other traffick-related offences.
Recent years have seen an influx in political and media attention on ‘modern slavery.’ Slavery is essentially any situation in which a person is forced to stay in a place or work against their will or exploited under threat or use of force. Modern concept of slavery has moved away from just the physical bondage aspect of it. Aside from physical coercion, people in countries such as Ghana and even some parts of India have accepted and internalised their position as salves. To them, it represents the best of their limited options. In these cases rescue by humanitarian workers was therefore undesired and even abusive. Worse still, it averted efforts and funds away from more robust, equality-promoting initiatives. A good example here would be the descent-based slavery in Mauritania which has been happening for years despite laws passed in 2015 and 2017 to combat it.
Adverse Impacts of Organ Trade
Organ trafficking is the practice of stealing or buying of human organs, tissues, or other body products, usually for transplantation to be sold on a black market for profit.
Traffickers often exploit the neediness of their victims to aid their criminal activities. In some cases the trafficking may be through force i.e abduction as well. An interesting thing to note here is that the professions of said traffickers may be as ambulance drivers, nurses or even doctors which allow them to get close to patients and equipment needed for the harvesting of organs. A recent example is the increase in the organ trade business in Egypt, which has been caused by clampdown on refugees funded by the EU. Migrants desperate to cross the Mediterranean have been known to sell their kidneys for $5000 dollars.
Role of Media in Human Trafficking
The media has an important role in mobilizing public support to end human trafficking. However, it has to be careful to not let out information that may advertently end up abetting the criminals instead.
Secondly, misinformation is common and in some countries media outlets and journalists do not have sufficient understanding of the situation and may confuse smuggling and illegal entry with trafficking. The media should also take an ethical approach and ensure that there is no violation of the rights of the victims.
Rights of the Victims
Victims of trafficking must be given rightful protection and provided safety so they do not fear retaliation from their abusers. In this situation it is important that survivors are provided justice through support programmes. A rights-based approach is most successful, because if the situation is seen as simply a criminal prosecution one, witnesses may be harassed with regards to testifying in court proceedings.
This will deter them from approaching the system for justice
Significance and Status of Victims in the Society
The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, and there is no single profile for the victims. It occurs to adults, minors, all genders and nationalities. However, following are the people who are more at risk for being trafficked;
- Runaway and homeless youth
- Foreign nationals who are trafficked within the United States face exceptional challenges that can make them more vulnerable to trafficking
- Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma in their past lives
Rights of the Accused
Prosecutors in dealing with those accused must (according to the UNODC guidelines) maintain a professional conduct, impartiality and independence (free from political influence or otherwise) in their proceedings. Prosecutors shall also perform their duties fairly and consistently and provide confidentiality as demanded by their profession. (UNODC, n.d.)
An emphasis needs to be placed on international cooperation and all-inclusive tactics to make sure that reactions to trafficking and smuggling do not simply result in new means by the criminals behind these crimes.
- County of San Francisco Human Rights Commission, n.d. What is Human Trafficking. [Online] Available at: https://sf-hrc.org/what-human-trafficking#Types%20of%20Human%20Trafficking
- Anon., n.d. People smuggling. [Online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_smuggling
- UNODC, 2009. International Framework for Action To Implement the Trafficking n Persons protocol, New York: s.n.
- UNODC, n.d. Human Trafficking. [Online] Available at: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html
- Web, R., n.d. Fleeing Home: Refugees and Human Trafficking. [Online] Available at: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/fleeing-home-refugees-and-human-trafficking