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The UN’s inaugural day against trafficking in persons

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th July 2014 02:37 PM

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.

trueBy Dorah Caroline Mafabi

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.

The action plan adopted in 2010 urges governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat the scourge of trafficking in persons.

The action plan also calls for the integration of the fight against trafficking in persons into the United Nation’s broader programmes in order to boost development and strengthen security worldwide. So, in 2013 when the United Nations General Assembly met to appraise the action plan, a resolution was adopted that designated July 30, as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

In solidarity, the international community in commemorating July 30, stands in unison and declares that those who fight and violate the observance of human rights by taking advantage of the opportunities that globalisation brings must also be fought. July 30, 2014 is no doubt a watershed in the fight against trafficking in Persons.

Where crime crosses borders and transcends regions and continents, then individuals and States alike must craft innovative strategies to fight such crime.

One would then ask whether United Nations observances are really that important. Why should States or even individuals participate in celebratory UN observances? In the ideal world, the UN’s observances contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. In 1950, the UN General Assembly approved the first international day, Human Rights Day that is celebrated on December 10.

These observances provide a useful means for the promotion of international and national action and stimulate interest in the UN activities and programmes. At a national level, these observances are used to front civic activism as well as measure State observance and commitment at the international level.

As the world commemorates the first World Day against trafficking in persons, the actual numbers of persons caught in situations of modern day slavery remain largely unknown.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) acknowledges that it is very difficult to assess the real magnitude of the crime of trafficking in persons because the crime takes place underground, and is often not identified or misidentified.

However, a conservative estimate of the crime puts the number of victims at any one time at 2.5 million. According to the UNODC, the most common form of trafficking in persons is for sexual exploitation at 79%.

The second most common form of trafficking in persons is forced labour exploitation although this may be a misrepresentation because it is less frequently detected and reported compared to trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Trafficking for labour exploitation remains unreported due to the many nuances under which it can be disguised. 60% of all trafficking victims detected globally are women and up to 25% of victims of trafficking in persons worldwide are children.

Uganda’s initiatives on combating trafficking in persons, though nascent, remain very progressive. Taking part in and recognising July 30 provides opportunity and space to reinforce and reaffirm our country’s commitment and constitutional responsibility to protect its citizens.

As this is the inaugural observance, actors on combating trafficking in persons in Uganda should firmly identify priority interventions and then take stock of achievements, challenges and progress made in fighting this crime this time next year.

The writer is a lawyer

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