The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, called for anti-trafficking efforts at borders to prioritize human rights protection at a conference on “The Politics & Policy of Border Security” in Berlin on 23 March 2012.
The event was sponsored by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC, the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the University of Toronto's Munk School for Global Studies in Canada and the Canadian Embassy in Berlin.
"States should strike a better balance between border control and their obligation to protect people who are holders of rights, namely asylum seekers and presumed victims of trafficking," said Giammarinaro.
According to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, only 6,017 trafficking cases have been prosecuted in 2010, and only 3,619 resulted in convictions.
"These figures are a drop in the ocean,” Giammarinaro emphasized, calling for a shift in the approach of border and migration authorities, who are ultimately in charge of identifying trafficking victims in the vast majority of OSCE participating States.
“As long as border and migration authorities perceive the granting of residence status to a presumed victim as an exception to migration policy rules, they will be hesitant,” she said. “On the contrary, protective obligations toward victims of human rights violations should be seen as an integral part of a 'healthy' migration policy, in which the respect of the rule of law is inextricably tied to security."
Giammarinaro also emphasized that the lack of a deterrent institutional response to organized crime running trafficking chains has a negative impact on security - still grossly underestimated – especially given the increasing infiltration of transnational organized crime into the legal economy.
Participants at the event included academics, policymakers and senior officials from the US, Canada, Germany and Poland, as well as representatives of international organizations, including UNHCR and the OSCE.