Facing the challenge of combating human trafficking along migration routes
Security Days: Refocusing Migration and Security - Bridging National and Regional Responses
The OSCE Security Days on 4th March 2016 in Rome sets out to stimulate a constructive and forward-looking discussion of rapidly evolving migration trends in and around the OSCE area and their complex security implications.Learn more
There are an estimated one billion migrants globally, many of whom are at risk of being trafficked and exploited. Often impoverished and jobless, they are easy targets for those who abuse them in situations of modern-day slavery, part of a global business of forced labour that generates an estimated $150 billion in annual revenue according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The 15th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons conference takes place in the shadow of a series of major tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, as migrants being smuggled and trafficked towards Europe drowned in unseaworthy vessels. Economic and political crises and instability around the world have compelled record numbers to flee their homes. Recent estimates from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) puts the total displaced globally at 60 million.
This presents a complex security challenge for the OSCE.
A thought leader
Crises within and surrounding the OSCE area call for effective management of displaced persons and refugees in order to ensure the rights of potential and actual victims of trafficking
Lamberto Zannier OSCE Secretary General
The Alliance is a broad international forum that brings together regional, international and non-governmental organizations to jointly prevent and combat human trafficking. This year’s conference will highlight a number of issues on migration and trafficking including State’s responsibility in policy and practice, trafficking in crisis situations and preventing this crime among vulnerable children.
The OSCE has been at the forefront of promoting human security and emphasizing victim protection when addressing human trafficking in the context of migration. In the Mediterranean in particular it has been a thought leader, proposing effective and humane responses at a 2013 international conference on modern day slavery with the OSCE’s Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation. Recommendations include developing State policies for fair migration that respect the rights of migrant workers and promote the confiscation of unlawful profits from exploiters.
Internal migration in Ukraine has created new challenges for the OSCE’s anti-trafficking work. More than 1.35 million people have been displaced since early 2014, creating an at-risk group of uprooted and impoverished families and individuals that are vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers.
In response, the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova, has been working to combat this crime by raising awareness about human trafficking and engaging with local authorities. In co-operation with the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, she has led training sessions for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) to build the capacity of staff in recognizing this scourge.
“Local authorities must redouble their efforts to ensure that combating human trafficking remains the top of the agenda,” Jarbussynova said.
Focus on children
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, one in three known victims of human trafficking is a child, a statistic which underscores this group’s particular vulnerability to human trafficking in the migration process.
The 2015 Alliance conference will include a panel and side event focused exclusively on this at-risk group, examining a number of issues including ways to prevent unaccompanied minors from falling victim to human traffickers.
“We must do everything that is within our reach, in a spirit of solidarity and partnership, to ensure that unaccompanied and separated children are protected throughout the entire migration process,” says Pierre Cazenave, Regional Child Rights Advisor for Terre des Hommes Regional Office for Central and South-Eastern Europe. “They must be given every opportunity to integrate in the host societies that pledged to protect them against all forms of persecution or situations where their life is at risk.”
The Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator has highlighted child protection in its work for a number of years. Since 2011, the Office, in partnership with local NGOs and Moldova’s Education Ministry and Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, has implemented a programme to teach crucial life and professional skills to children without parental care in 12 residential schools in 10 pilot regions in Moldova. The project took up work in Transdniestria in 2012.
This work is closely tied to the topic of migration, as the parents of the institutionalized children often work abroad and lack the financial means to care for them. After leaving the schools, children are at risk of being exploited by trafficking rings as they do not have the professional skills or life experience required to live independently.
Looking to the future
Migration is a major challenge for the global community. The leading experts who attend this year’s Alliance to exchange views and strengthen co-operation recognize that it is necessary to work together to confront the crime of trafficking along migration routes. This will improve victim protection, increase prosecutions and ultimately make the region from Vancouver to Vladivostok safer.