2003 | 55th Regular Session of the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights (28 July - 15 August 2003)

Towards universal criminalization of human trafficking


Fifty-fifth Session, Palais des Nations, Geneva, 28 July – 15 August 2003Franciscans International and representatives of its sections in India, Italy, Lebanon and Zambia actively participated in the last session of the UN Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and appreciated the excellent chairmanship of Mr. Pinheiro. In accordance with the suggestions made by Mr. Decaux, Franciscans International and Dominicans for Justice and Peace believe that, in its future meetings, the Group should also examine contemporary forms of slavery from the perspective of the most recent legal instruments adopted on this matter. In addition, our organizations think that a study to update the juridical framework where slavery and slavery-like practices fit in and to provide indicators on socio-economic, political, administrative and legal obstacles that impede the full enjoyment of the rights contained in the existing provisions should be conducted.

Turning to the specific issue of trafficking in human beings, we are pleased to see that the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention Against Trransnational Organized Crime has been signed by 117 States. However, all countries must work for universal ratification and the full implementation of all articles of the Protocol.

Specifically, the Protocol’s clear definition of trafficking should be incorporated into domestic legislation along with articles 6,7 and 8 of the Protocol, which deal with the provision of protection and support of victims of trafficking. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking (2002) contain also very interesting policies and procedures for States to follow. However, in practice, many victims of trafficking continue to be detained , criminalized, summarily deported and exposed to serious harm because of the failure by States to identify them correctly and provide them with the advice and support service that they require. In particular, all trafficked persons should be given the right to remain temporarily or permanently in the State to which they have been trafficked when there is a risk that they will suffer further human rights violations if removed.

Franciscans International and Dominicans for Justice and Peace would like to recommend that the Sub-Commission:

  • Calls upon governments to criminalize trafficking in human beings in all its forms and to condemn and penalize traffickers and intermediaries, while ensuring protection and assistance to the victims of trafficking with full respect for their human rights and not contingent on their cooperation with the prosecution of exploiters.
  • Urges States to devise, enforce and strengthen effective measures at the national, regional and international levels to prevent, combat and eliminate all forms of trafficking through comprehensive anti-trafficking strategies which include legislative measures, prevention campaigns and information exchange.
  • Encourages governments to develop national plans of action to end trafficking and present detailed information regarding the number of trafficked people assisted, the number of successful prosecutions obtained and other measures taken to prevent and combat trafficking in their periodic reports to the UN human rights treaty-monitoring bodies.



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