Press Releases

    16 May 2003

    Workshop on "Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children," Held on 15 May As Part of Twelfth Session of Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

    VIENNA, 16 May (UN Information Service) -- A Workshop on "Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications," was held today at the Vienna International Centre as part of the Twelfth Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (13-22 May).

    The workshop brought together participants from five different regional institutes around the world, -- the UN African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI), the UN Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI), the UN Latin American Institute for Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD), the National Institute of Justice (NJI) in Washington D.C., the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) -- as well as NGOs. It was organized by the institutes of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme network and coordinated by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

    The workshop provided an analysis of the latest regional trends in human trafficking to review research findings and discuss promising counter-strategies against trafficking in human beings. Among the workshop's major conclusions was that the fight against trafficking required a number of preventive measures: these include criminalizing trafficking with relatively uniform criteria and sanctions; stringent prosecution penalties; improving the rights of the victims and creating efficient witness protection; training of the police in the quest to apply anti-trafficking laws; creating public awareness; and developing cooperation in crime prevention. According to Hans Ihrman, a Swedish Public Prosecutor, who addressed the workshop and who recently successfully prosecuted his country's largest female trafficking case, international cooperation between law enforcement agencies was of utmost importance.

    Today new trends in trafficking are emerging. These include links between international adoptions and child trafficking; domestic trafficking for labour exploitation; links between trafficking and peacekeeping operations; and the emergence of new trafficking routes in Europe and Africa.

    Overviews of trafficking in different regions of the world were presented. A significant problem in understanding trafficking is the lack of reliable data. Due to the clandestine character of the crime and the reluctancy of victims to come forward, information on trafficking is somewhat incomplete. Keeping this in mind, some preliminary findings from different regions were presented at the Workshop, as follows:

    Africa: (1) Trafficking in women and children is among one the five foremost prevalent crimes of Transnational Organizations in Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea Conakri, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe; (2) UNICEF estimates that up to 200,000 children are trafficked annually within the West and Central Africa, largely for domestic and agricultural labour.

    Asia-Pacific Region: (1) In the last 30 years trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation alone has victimized more than 30 million people in Asia; according to UNICEF statistics; (2) Between 200,000 to 250,000 women and children in Asia are trafficked every year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM); (3) Nearly one-third of the global trafficking in women and children is reported from South-East Asia.

    Europe: (1) The main regions concerning female trafficking are Northern Europe, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Western Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Caucasus. (2) While Western Europe and Scandinavia are destination regions, the victims come mainly from the Balkans, Eastern Europe and South-East Asia; (3) Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans are major transit and source areas; (4) In the Western Mediterranean the victims come mainly from the Balkans, Latin America and West Africa.

    Latin and Central America: (1) Free trade agreements between Central American countries facilitate trafficking; (2) Within this region Nicaragua and Honduras are a major source for young boys and girls who are sent to El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize; (3) Trafficking in women and children from Brazil to Spain, the Netherlands and Venezuela is significant; (4) Today sex workers are moving into Cuba.

    North America: Canada, U.S. and Mexico: U.S.: (1) The U.S. is principally a destination country; (2) A 1999 CIA report estimated that 45,000 to 50,000 women and children were trafficked into the U.S. annually; (3) According to the State Department, equal numbers of women are trafficked from Asia, Central and South America, Russia and Eastern Europe into the U.S.; (4) UNICEF estimates that 1,000 to 1,500 Guatemalan babies and children are trafficked each year for adoption in North America and Europe.

    Canada is primarily a transit region to the U.S and also a destination point. Mexico is primarily a source and transit country for those bound to the U.S. and Canada.

    In the final part of the workshop the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as intergovernmental organizations and NGOs presented their activities. Statements by Member States were also made.

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