31 July 2003

New UN Video Spots Encourage Trafficking Victims, General Public to Resist Modern Slavery

VIENNA, 31 July (UN Information Service)  -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has just released two new video spots encouraging victims and the general public to take action against human trafficking. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa has joined John Miller, Head of the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, in Washington D.C. today in the launching of the video spots.

"The majority of victims of human trafficking are women and children, who are mostly destined for sexual exploitation.  Our new video spots encourage both victims and the general public to take action against this modern form of slavery," Mr. Costa said.

The spots show how people can take action against trafficking. They project an empowering image to victims, showing that it may be possible to escape forced labour situations and start a new life. They also aim at motivating the general public to assist trafficking victims.

"With tools such as these we can help put a stop to slavery. These PSAs [video spots] can help in preventing more people from being trafficked, raise awareness so as to decrease the demand for sex or labour slavery, and provide information to help rescue people from slavery," said Miller. "They are extremely powerful."

Jolene Smith, Deputy Director of the NGO Free the Slaves, and Diana Pineda, Director of Communications at the NGO Vital Voices, also spoke about the importance of awareness-raising campaigns in order to help victims.

Human trafficking is a growing global phenomenon, with 800,000 to 900,000 people trafficked across international borders annually, according to both a United Nations and a recent US State Department report. The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, promotes international cooperation to prevent and fight trafficking.

The UN Protocol calls on countries to protect and assist victims in legal proceedings and render social assistance in such spheres as counselling, housing, education and health care. Member States are meant to share criminal justice information and training methods, and implement security and border control measures to detect and prevent trafficking. Additionally, the Protocol points to the need to improve the social conditions leading to human trafficking and to raise awareness about the issue through public information, such as UNODC's television campaign.

UNODC is working in individual countries to create partnerships with regional and local non-governmental organizations. Wherever possible, the new video spots will include local telephone hotlines where victims can call to receive assistance and support. The video spots are available in the official UN languages, with translations also planned in Eastern European, African and Asian languages.

The two new video spots were produced by UNODC and are targeted at the destination countries for trafficked persons. Two earlier spots were designed to raise awareness about the human trafficking issue with the first focusing on the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation and the second concentrating on the trafficking of men, women and children for bonded and forced labour. These spots have been aired internationally to an audience of millions through the BBC, CNN International and MTV Asia, as well as through national networks in over 40 countries.

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