ACLJ Urges Immediate Action at the UN To Stop Global Scourge of Human Trafficking
Every day desperate individuals, who are trying to provide food and a better life for themselves and their families, face an unthinkable choice: risk being sold into modern slavery by human traffickers or go hungry.
Unfortunately, many find themselves forced to take the gamble because the alternative means continued hunger, continued need, and continued suffering for their families. Evil human traffickers exploit these desperate individuals for financial gain by promising them good jobs but selling them into slavery instead. According to U.N. data, there are an estimated 40.3 million people living in modern slavery today.
We told you recently how we use the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the U.N. to shed light on human rights violations in countries all around the world and provide recommendations to these countries so that these issues can be addressed. During the most recent UPR, we highlighted the problem of abortion in the countries of Hungary and Ireland. In addition, we addressed human trafficking in various countries around the world.
As we stated in our report on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (St. Vincent), “Human trafficking, in all its forms, is an issue that plagues every country to some degree.” While each country has different factors that contribute to human trafficking, one thing remains constant: “Traffickers rely on the desperation of their victims to exploit them with false promises of higher paying jobs and a better life.”
In Suriname, women and girls are sexually exploited in the country’s interior mining camps and forced to work in brothels, bars, and strip clubs. It has proven to be difficult for authorities to properly investigate cases of human trafficking in these mining camps, as much of the interior is remote, “where outsiders may only reach the communities via airplane.” This makes it easier for traffickers to operate with impunity and creates difficulties in understanding the full scope of human trafficking within the country.
In our report on Antigua and Barbuda, we explain how women are specifically targeted for sexual predation and exploitation. As stated by John McKinnon, a member of the local Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee, “Most of the human trafficking victims are women and most of the cases we have seen are sexual exploitation. We have had one recent domestic servitude case and that too was female.” Antigua and Barbuda has difficulty prosecuting and convicting suspects. This is because many victims come from other countries; and after being rescued, they return to their home countries, making it difficult for authorities to prosecute perpetrators.
Island nations in the South Pacific Ocean, such as Samoa, are seeing an increase in human trafficking as they serve as both source and destination countries for human trafficking. The fishing industry provides for the easy transport of trafficked individuals throughout the Pacific. As we explained in our UPR:
For example, in March of 2020 a man was found guilty of 10 counts of human trafficking and 13 counts in dealing in slaves. The court found that he had trafficked 13 individuals, the youngest of which was 12, from Samoa to New Zealand over a 25-year period. According to reports he promised these individuals paid horticulture work or schooling in Hawkes Bay. However, after arriving in New Zealand these victims found themselves working long hours in the fields for no pay. The judge chastised the man, stating that “[t]he victims were told they could earn significant income by Samoan standards, which they would be able to send back to their families. Once in New Zealand, these Samoan nationals were exploited by you for your own family’s financial gain”.
In Papua New Guinea, it is estimated that approximately 30% of sex trafficking victims are below the age of 18. In our report, we told a tragic story of how evil individuals sexually exploit young women:
In December 2020, Papua New Guinea secured its first conviction for human trafficking and sentenced a man to 20 years of hard labour for trafficking and rape. The man was convicted on six counts of human trafficking against six young women. The man purchased the young women from their parents and then used the young women to entertain the guests at a lodge and even directed them to drink alcohol and have sex with the guests. It was also reported that he assaulted and raped one of the girls.
In Thailand, even though sex work is illegal, it is still openly practiced; and it is estimated that the sex trade industry is valued at $6.4 billion a year or 3% of the country’s GDP. As we stated in our report, “This massive industry is exploitive in its very nature and takes advantage of those who are desperate and further fuels human trafficking.” Furthermore, “Children are targeted by human traffickers for use in prostitution, as well as for online pornography.”
Trinidad and Tobago has the highest demand for sexual exploitation within the Caribbean; and the unrest in Venezuela (one of the subjects of our next round of UPRs), has led to human traffickers transporting desperate individuals to Trinidad and Tobago. As we stated in our report:
An 8 month long study conducted between July 2019 and February 2020 found that approximately 4,000 Venezuelan women were trafficked to Trinidad and Tobago in just the last 4 years. For example, one of those smuggled was a teenage girl who was sold for $300 to be used for sex in Trinidad and Tobago. She would however not live to make it to Trinidad and Tobago as she and 37 other victims drowned while crossing the Boca Dragón Strait on a small boat.
We urged all these countries to address these serious human rights violations by preventing human trafficking as well as providing aid and assistance to the victims once they have been rescued. No one should ever face being sold into slavery or sexually exploited in order to provide for themselves and their family.
At the ACLJ, we will continue to fight the global scourge of human trafficking.