Human Trafficking for Forced Labor Might Exceed Perception
Vienna, Austria th Human trafficking for forced labor might be a greater problem than the more widely known problem of trafficking for sexual exploitation, says Kristiina Kangaspunta, the chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
(Media-Newswire.com) - Vienna, Austria – Human trafficking for forced labor might be a greater problem than the more widely known problem of trafficking for sexual exploitation, says Kristiina Kangaspunta, the chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC )
“We don’t know that much about forced labor issues,” she acknowledged in an April 26 interview with USINFO. “We don’t know, but it seems that it might be that forced labor is a bigger part of the human trafficking than human trafficking for sexual exploitation.” She cited an enormous number of places that could absorb the forced labor of men, women and children: restaurants, hotels, bars, agriculture, domestic and construction work.
“Our findings were that there was more sexual exploitation; but often countries have legislation that only covers sexual exploitation,” she explained. “It may be that sexual exploitation is simply reported more often.” UNODC, she added, is working closely with the International Labour Organization, which views sexual exploitation as an integral part of forced labor, to get a clearer picture of the problem.
Kangaspunta spoke to USINFO at the 16th session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, being held in Vienna, Austria, through April 27. ( See related article. )
RELIABLE DATA ARE HARD TO FIND
Dealing with the problem of human trafficking depends on accurate information – a difficult commodity to find, she said.
Kangaspunta said the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, recently surveyed some 24,000 articles on human trafficking and found them wanting because of poor methodology in conducting the studies.
It took Kangaspunta’s own unit three years to conduct its first study, released in 2006, on human trafficking – Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns -- which relied on open sources.
“Some countries could not provide us with data,” she said of the first study. “But it is also valuable information to know that they do not have the data. We can offer technical assistance to these countries.”
The UNODC’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit is planning to undertake another study on countries that supply, receive or transit trafficking victims, this time with greater input from official sources, she said.
“Identification of victims is very important or we cannot help them,” Kangaspunta said. “At the same time, we must be able to identify traffickers, otherwise we cannot convict them.”
“One of the main questions we have is, ‘Why are there so few convictions?’ Everywhere in the world,” she said, “there are very few convictions. And of course it is a training question; it is also a question of the identification of victims, identification of cases and identification of criminals.” Existing laws, she observed, need to be enforced more strongly.
She added: “We do not have very much knowledge about it, but it seems to be that corruption is playing a large role. We’re trying to develop tools for more understanding of the link between trafficking and corruption.”
THE GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Kangaspunta said her unit’s work will be facilitated greatly by the $15 million contribution by the United Arab Emirates to the UNODC’s Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking ( GIFT ), which was launched in March.
“This is a very considerable sum for the UNODC,” she said, “because usually our projects are around $500,000 or less.”
The two-year initiative will focus on data collection and analysis, raising public awareness, and policy development.
“We are trying to develop policies for regions, regional action plans, with the support of U.N. agencies like the Crime Commission,” she explained. “One of the biggest parts of our work is to support technical cooperation activities that are carried out at the country level. They are developed and implemented by our 22 field offices around the world. Our office supports them substantively so that the right issues are addressed in the ways we have found to be successful.”
PRIVATE INDUSTRY GETTING MORE INVOLVED
Kangaspunta said that as public awareness of human trafficking increases, more companies in private industry are helping to combat the problem.
Among the examples she offered: Carlson, which owns hotels around the world, has undertaken a training program for its managers on how to recognize and prevent child exploitation. Air France is working on public service announcements to show on its flights. MTV is working on videos to warn young people against becoming ensnared by traffickers. Microsoft is training law enforcement personnel in India on the use of computers for investigations of human trafficking cases.
UNODC, Kangaspunta said, is encouraging executives in private industry to become more aware of how forced labor may be playing a role in their supply chain. She said that some carpet manufacturers in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have made efforts to end child labor and market their products with labels certifying that child labor was not used in production.
For more information on U.S. policies and additional coverage of the 16th session of the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, see Human Smuggling and Trafficking.
( USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov ) By Jane Morse USINFO Staff Writer
This story was released on 2007-04-27. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.