"It’s the same greed, the same lack of regulation, the same lack of government action that is causing forced labour and that caused the global financial crisis," Roger Plant, head of the special action programme to combat forced labour at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) told an International Conference on Trafficking in Persons in Palermo, Italy.
The conference, organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) May 21-22 assessed progress made ten years after the United Nations adopted the Palermo Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its two protocols on trafficking and smuggling.
The protocols have been ratified by more than 100 countries, and have provided many valuable juridical instruments, but there is poor implementation and insufficient data collection by individual states, making monitoring by international organisations arduous.
"We have national legislations, ratification, shelters, national action plans, but any impact?" Richard Danzinger, head of the IOM’s counter-trafficking unit asked the audience. "We have no clear numbers, but estimates haven’t changed, and the definition of trafficking is so complex that it can be interpreted in many ways, depending on government policies or ideology."
Hampering cooperation are also different legal cultures that have led to disagreement over key concepts of exploitation, trafficking or smuggling.
Danziger went so far as to question the relevance of distinguishing between victims of trafficking and migrants in general. "Just about any woman who came from North Africa to Europe has been abused in some way. Maybe she was not trafficked, but should that make a difference?" he asked.
Some claimed that the Palermo Protocols had helped. "Before the Protocols the ILO was only looking at the issue of forced labour imposed by states, while we know that 80 percent of forced labour is done by private interests," Plant told the conference...
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