Press Releases

    13 February 2008

    Policy Makers and Celebrities Unite in Call for Action on Human Trafficking

    Ricky Martin makes global appeal: "I beg you to act now"

    VIENNA, 13 February  (UN Information Service) -- Policy makers and celebrities have today launched an unprecedented global appeal to recognize the scale and prevalence of human trafficking, and for coordinated action to be taken to fight it. They were speaking at the opening session of the Vienna Forum, the first-ever global forum to fight human trafficking.

    Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, accused law enforcement authorities around the world of demonstrating "benign neglect" and appealed for co-ordinated action to fight the  " monster" of human trafficking.

    Ricky Martin, Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican pop star, said: "Human trafficking is a vicious violation of human rights; it has no place in our world and I beg you to act now".

    Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt and President of the Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement, said: "human trafficking is a pervasive cancer… anyone who knows the truth about the horrors of human trafficking cannot condone it".

    Ursula Plassnik, Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, said: "We simply cannot tolerate human beings being bought, sold and hired like commodities. Each and every one of us is being called upon to act".

    Emma Thompson, Oscar-winning actress and Chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, who yesterday opened an art installation in Vienna, mapping the journey of a trafficking victim, told the Forum the harrowing story of a Moldovan woman who was trafficked to the United Kingdom and forced to work as a prostitute, and whose experience convinced Emma Thompson of the need for action.

    During the first session of the Vienna Forum, the campaign group, STOP THE TRAFFIK, delivered a petition signed by 1.5 million persons around the world calling for action. It was received by Ricky Martin and Antonio Maria Costa.

    The Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking is bringing together 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement teams, business leaders, NGO representatives and trafficking victims from 116 countries. It will be focusing on the three key elements of human trafficking - its root causes, its social and economic impact, and the actions needed to eradicate it.

    Today, UNODC launched a witness protection manual to assist UN Member States develop comprehensive programmes for the protection of victims and witnesses of crime. The "Good Practices in the Protection of Witnesses in Criminal Proceedings Involving Organized Crime" is just one of a number of new tools being launched at the Forum to address human trafficking. Witness protection programmes are considered a key tool in the dismantling of human trafficking networks as well as combating other forms of organized crime.

    The Vienna Forum is being convened by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) which was established in recognition of the fact that human trafficking takes many forms and that a coordinated and united approach is required. UN.GIFT was launched in March 2007 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) together with the International Labour Organization (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

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    For press enquiries, please contact:

    Robert Watkinson
    Tel.: (+43) 664 486 5297 (Austria)
    Tel.:(+44) 7984 433 486 (UK)

    Hannah McCullagh
     Tel.: (+43) 664 2772485 (Austria)
    Tel.: (+44) 7739 147841 (UK)

    For broadcast enquiries, please contact:

    Faridoun Hemani
     Tel.: (+43) 664 7626411 (Austria)
    Tel.:(+44) 7748 648 355 (UK)

    STOP THE TRAFFIK is a global coalition of over 1,000 member organizations and active in over 50 countries. For media inquiries, call Ruth Dearnley on Tel.: (+44) 7795 606708 (UK).

    Media inquiries can also be directed to

    Photographs, speeches and other materials are available on:

    Information Officers

    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
    Walter Kemp 
     Tel.: (+43-1) 26060 5629

    International Labour Organization
    Houtan Homayounpour
     Tel.: (+41) 79 593 1558

    International Organization for Migration

    Chris Lom
     Tel.: (+66) 819 275 215
    Tel.:(+43) 650 261 8782 (from 11th Feb)

    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Yvon Edoumou
     Tel.: (+41) 788 263 552

    Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
    Blanca Tapia
     Tel.: (+43) 664 859 08 04

    United Nations Children's Fund
    Geoff Keele
     Tel.: (+1-212) 326 7583