Africa: World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

In a statement to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, urges States to step up efforts to ensure compensation for people who are trafficked:

"It is critically important that States invest in long-term solutions to ensure social inclusion for survivors of human trafficking. This means ensuring that there are robust procedures by States to allow victims to access to justice and remedies including compensation.

Profound changes are needed in States' approaches to migration and trafficking. Restrictive and xenophobic migration policies and the criminalisation of migrants, as well as of NGOs and individuals providing humanitarian aid, are incompatible with effective action against human trafficking.

Politicians fuelling hatred, building walls, condoning the detention of children and preventing vulnerable migrants from entering their territories are working against the interests of their own countries.

What is needed is safe, orderly and regular migration, which includes making provision for the social integration of migrants. This is crucial also for victims of trafficking, including women suffering discrimination, gender-based violence and exploitation, and children subjected to abuse during their journey, especially when travelling alone. The reality is that restrictive migration policies produce irregularity and vulnerabilities, and foster exploitation and trafficking. Therefore social inclusion is the only and right answer.

Survivors of trafficking need solidarity and a friendly social environment to regain control of their lives, a process that certainly also requires financial resources. The right to an effective remedy is at the core of a victim-centred and human rights-based approach that empowers victims of trafficking and respects fully their human rights. However, to date, compensation remains one of the least implemented provisions of the Palermo Protocol , especially with regard to trafficked children.

Access to remedies is not limited to compensation, but it also encompasses restitution, which implies the reuniting of families and the restoration of employment for victims, as well as guarantees of non-repetition. This includes a strong preventive component, requiring States to address the root causes of trafficking.

Private sector grievance mechanisms are an important tool in this regard and more effort must be made to listen to the voices of workers when cases of trafficking and severe exploitation are identified in business operations and supply chains, in order to find viable alternative solutions for their employment.

I urge States to remove obstacles hampering access to justice for victims by giving residency status to people who have been trafficked, and by ensuring they are not detained or prosecuted for illegal activities they may have been involved in as a result of being trafficked. If they have been convicted, their criminal records must be cleared.

An empowerment process for survivors of trafficking requires a transformative project based on education and training, opening new paths to help them acquire new skills and equipping them for job opportunities. In particular for women, such a process should not be shaped on traditional gender-based activities, but should rather explore innovative solutions in non-traditional areas of education and employment.

The path to regaining physical and psychological integrity, self-esteem and independence for people who have been subjected to serious human rights violations is long. However, I believe that effectively including survivors in society and valuing their potential, skills and expertise can give them an opportunity to rebuild and change their lives, prevent re-trafficking and actively contribute to the dismantling of criminal networks."

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