Trafficking: extreme rights abuses are still tolerated, says expert

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World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is marked on 30 July. Photo: UNODC campaign image #igivehope.

Human trafficking is a growing global problem which requires a fundamental shift in policy if the terrible exploitation it causes is to be stopped, a top human rights expert said Thursday.

Speaking on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons marked annually on 30 July, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro said that more than a decade of trying to combat the practice had brought only "modest" results.

The independent UN Special Rapporteur said a key issue is the lack of existing legislation to combat the many ways people are exploited.

Stephanie Coutrix has more.

An estimated 20 million people are believed to be victims of trafficking – the extreme exploitation of women, men and children.

That's according to Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, an Italian judge and UN independent Special Rapporteur on trafficking.

She says an increasing number of people are becoming victims of the practice after fleeing persecution, war or other emergencies.

For Ms Giammarinaro, it's time governments tackled the gross human rights violations that these vulnerable people experience.

But she says that would involve national authorities enforcing legislation that covers all those lucrative areas where migrant workers face exploitation.

This abuse can be in the sex industry, in agriculture, garment-making and domestic work, the UN human rights expert says.

"There are enormous economic interests behind exploitation, and this is one of the reasons why it's so difficult to have good results in anti-trafficking action, because exploitation especially of migrant workers is largely tolerated."

One solution to the trafficking problem would be to provide legitimate channels for people who want to migrate, Ms Giammarinaro says.

But she explained this will involve a change in the way people think about trafficking, from a law enforcement issue to as she called it an "enormous social and economic problem".

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″


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