VIENNA, 3 October 2011 – An expert seminar organized by the OSCE and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on leveraging efforts to fight human trafficking through clamping down on money laundering started in Vienna today.
Trafficking in human beings is one of the most lucrative forms of organized crime, estimated to generate 32 billion US dollars in gross proceeds each year. Criminal assets arising from this grave violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms may be invested in legitimate and criminal activities, challenging economic security, feeding corruption and undermining the rule of law.
“The seminar reflects the OSCE’s priorities in addressing transnational threats and in utilizing a variety of tools to promote a human rights-based approach for all,” said OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier at the opening session. “We all need to ensure both the political will and the technical expertise to meet these challenges. This is the mission of my organization and I am confident that together we will accomplish it.”
To minimize the profitability and increase the risk of human trafficking, these assets must be traced, seized, frozen and confiscated. This two-day expert seminar, organized within the framework of the partnership established with the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons., brings together representatives of international organizations, government agencies and financial institutions, as well as academics and independent experts, to review the anti-money laundering tools in place in different countries, and identify ways they can most effectively be used to combat human trafficking.
“This seminar is a milestone in paving the way to more effective and efficient investigations in the crimes of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. It shows that co-operation among all stakeholders – intergovernmental organizations, national authorities, private sector, civil society – is essential,” said Sandeep Chawla, UNODC’s Deputy Executive Director and Director Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs.
A key goal of the seminar is to advance the body of operational knowledge available to law enforcement, financial intelligence units and private sector compliance departments in the use of financial investigations in identifying and confiscating the proceeds and instrumentalities of human trafficking, thus increasing the capacity of states to ensure that the rights of trafficked persons are restored and they are compensated for the trauma they suffer.
The seminar also aims to highlight the urgent need to enhance inter-agency and international co-ordination on these issues, especially in view of global economic trends which may increase the vulnerability of populations to human trafficking and forced labour.
The seminar was organized by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the Strategic Police Matters Unit, together with UNODC’s Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism, and Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons. It aims to contribute to co-ordinated efforts by the international community, including recent work by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.