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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue on cultural rights and trafficiking in persons

AFTERNOON

22 June 2012

Concludes Discussion on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice and Human Rights of Migrants

The Human Rights Council this afternoon started a clustered interactive dialogue with Farida Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The Council also concluded its interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, presented her annual thematic report focused on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and an update on her missions to Austria and Morocco. Despite the fact that scientific innovations were changing in ways once inconceivable, the scope, normative content, and obligations of States remained underdeveloped. The privatization of knowledge threatened to deprive individuals of opportunities to take part in cultural life and the fruits of scientific progress. Austria had adopted positive initiatives to ensure the realization of cultural rights; however, promotion measures lacked an institutional framework. Morocco’s amended Constitution had strengthened the protection of human rights; however, some existing laws, policies and practices were still not in keeping with international and constitutional commitments.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, introducing her thematic report on a human rights-based approach to the administration of criminal justice in cases of trafficking in persons, said that it was regrettable that many States still linked the provision of assistance and protection to victims to cooperation with national criminal justice agencies. The report recognized the important role of victim support agencies and noted the various formal and informal practices of States in increasing cooperation between them. Thailand faced significant challenges as a source, transit and destination country and trafficking for labour exploitation was growing. The prevalence of tourism and the demand for sexual services continued to contribute to trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation. Australia, despite its strong leadership and considerable resources to combating trafficking, remained a destination country for trafficked persons.

Speaking as concerned countries were Austria, Morocco, Australia and Thailand.
The National Council for Human Rights of Morocco and the Australian Human Rights Commission also made statements.

During the interactive debate, regarding the issue of trafficking in persons, delegations echoed the report of the Special Rapporteur on the need to further analyse human rights violations in the context of human trafficking and the need for enhanced international cooperation. Others emphasised the importance of reflection and recovery periods and the provision of immediate support and protection to victims. Speakers emphasized the prevalence of trafficking in different regions and recognised the need to address its root causes, including push and pull factors and demand for trafficked people. Concerning the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, speakers reiterated the interlinkages with other human rights, such as the right to participation in cultural rights. Speakers noted efforts to ensure the inclusion and protection of cultural and linguistic minorities. Delegations also stressed the importance of scientific knowledge and innovation for modern societies, and the need for an international enabling environment for the conservation, development and diffusion of science.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Philippines, European Union, Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Germany, Cuba, Estonia, Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, Belarus on behalf of the Geneva Group of Friends against Human Trafficking, Greece, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Argentina, Georgia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ecuador and Switzerland.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with Kamala Chandrakirana, Chairperson the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, and François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Ms. Chandrakirana and Mr. Crépeau presented their reports and opening remarks to the Council on 21 June and a summary of their presentations can be found in press release HRC12/070E.

Mr. Crépeau, in closing remarks, welcomed the comments of States which agreed that irregular migration should not be treated as a crime. The use of terminology “illegal migrants” should be absolutely avoided, since it legitimated discourse on criminalization of migration and contributed to feelings of racism and xenophobia against migrants. Mr. Crépeau was pleased to see the support of States for alternatives to detention and the particular attention paid to vulnerable groups.

Ms. Chandrakirana provided her closing remarks during the morning meeting, which are available in press release HRC12/071E.

Taking the floor in the interactive dialogue on discrimination against women and human rights of migrants were Slovenia, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Turkey, Holly See, United Nations Children Fund and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Sudwind, Federation of Cuban Women, American Civil Liberties Union, International Commission of Jurists, Penal Reform International, International Federation of University Women, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, and Migrant Rights International.

The Council will resume its work at 10 a.m. on Monday, 25 June to conclude with its clustered dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on cultural rights and on trafficking. The Council will also continue its consideration of Agenda Item 3 and hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on independence of judges and lawyers, and on violence against women.

Interactive Dialogue on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice and on Human Rights of Migrants

Slovenia shared the view that no effective implementation of equality guarantees for women could be sustained without the genuine empowerment of women in all fields and that special measures should be integrated in implementation frameworks and strategies. Could some examples be provided on special measures aimed at overcoming the various aspects of discrimination? To effectively eliminate discrimination against women, the role and will of men was crucial. How did the Working Group envisage addressing this other hand of gender perspective in its work?

Indonesia promoted international cooperation regionally and globally to pay more respect to women’s rights. Its own efforts included putting in place constitutional and legislative initiatives and reforms, including through the revision and repeal of discriminatory provisions in legislation. Could the Working Group further elaborate and provide examples of good practices to effectively review and repeal discriminatory legal instruments at the national and sub-regional levels? Indonesia’s efforts to combat trafficking continued to be a priority issue for the Government. A National Action Plan on the Elimination of Trafficking of Women and Children had been established.

United Kingdom said the mandate of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice was crucial and welcomed its first report and fully supported the thematic priorities contained in it. Women’s equal participation in the social, economic and political spheres was crucial to achieving sustainable changes in gender equality and women’s empowerment. Periods of transition presented periods of immense vulnerability for women, but also presented a unique opportunity for States, United Nations bodies and other partners to work together to put women at the forefront of transitional processes. Could the Working Group present its views on how the international community could best join together to achieve this?

Ireland said that women everywhere continued to be subject to significant disadvantage as a result of discriminatory laws and practices and welcomed the focus on the themes of political transitions and economic crisis. Ireland welcomed the assessment that there was no empirical evidence that detention deterred irregular migration or discouraged persons from seeking asylum and, in this regard, asked the Special Rapporteur to clarify the alternatives to detention outlined in the report and whether they had been implemented or constituted a theoretical framework.

France had conducted active polices to ensure gender equality. Effective participation of women in the process of reform was essential for the success of transitions. France asked Ms. Chandrakirana what were good practices in the area of discrimination and what possible synergies could exist with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and United Nations Women. Concerning Mr. Crepeau’s call to take specific measures to guarantee special protection to women and children, France inquired about good practices to ensure the consideration of children and the integration of a gender perspective.

Turkey welcomed the attention given to the detention of irregular migrants and the concern regarding the criminalisation of irregular migrants in some countries. In Turkey, centres for irregular migrants were called guesthouses for foreigners in order to avoid any negative connotation. Turkey underlined the significance of efforts to ensure the respect of the human rights of migrants and, as a main sponsor, welcomed the recent adoption of a draft resolution on the elimination of violence against migrants by the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Holy See said that migration was a natural response to internal disorder, fear of persecution or violence and poor economic opportunity and it presented significant challenges to the international community with regard to the preservation of human rights. The development of international norms that respected the individuality of the person was necessary to safeguard migrants from abuse. Irregular migrants should not be treated as criminals and detention should not act as a deterrent to migration. Religions had an important role in promoting the rights of migrants, as their fundamental feature of solidarity and compassion made migration a beneficial experience for migrants and societies of origin and destination.

United Nations Children Fund said that depriving children from their liberty was a violation of their rights and use of detention as a punitive measure could never be justified because it violated the principle of the best interest of the child. The fundamental principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child must be duly taken into consideration in the context of migration proceedings. Alternatives to detention must be carefully designed in line with international standards and in the case of children it was important to examine their impact on the rights and dignity of children.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta supported the need to specifically protect vulnerable groups of migrants, including women and children. The rights of migrants were human rights and that was why migrants must benefit from all legal guarantees contained in international and national law. There was a need to open a dialogue among all stakeholders to ensure that migrants were treated in a legal and humane way. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta expressed its support for the objectives set by the Working Group on discrimination against women and said that this phenomenon was often related to persisting stereotypes, patriarchal norms and societal structures that historically placed women in subordinate positions.

Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that discrimination against women was universal and did not belong to any region or religion but the excuse of many policy makers and institutions of power to continue this apartheid style practice was based on regional traditions and religions. In many countries the laws were rather egalitarian on paper but not in practice. In Iran, Article 35 of the presidential elections candidacy clearly indicated that the candidate should be a religious political man. Such a judicial system resulted in a combination of discrimination and segregation in urban public spaces which women in Iran were now experiencing.

Federation of Cuban Women said that little progress had been made in ensuring the full exercise and realization of equality, human rights and fundamental freedoms of women. This no doubt was dependent on the political will of States and the conversion of words into deeds. It was a good idea to address the particular needs of certain groups of women as stated in paragraph 21 of the report, but in the current global economic crisis it was more urgent to examine the key effects of the crisis from a gender perspective. The participation of Cuban women in developments in the areas of legislation, education, health, employment, and social and cultural developments among others, was an indisputable expression of the impact of the Cuban social project.

American Civil Liberties Union said that a recent American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia had documented alarming human rights abuses in four immigrant detention facilities in the state of Georgia. This system of mass detention persisted despite the fact that the United States Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that most immigration detainees had a low propensity for violence. Such mass detention was unnecessary to enforce immigration laws.

International Commission of Jurists welcomed the focus on Europe and European Union laws on migrants and echoed the concern about the increased use and length of administrative detention. Detention conditions for migrants in several countries may violate the prohibition of degrading treatment under international law. The Commission drew attention to the human right consequences of apprehension at borders and accelerated asylum procedures, human rights obligations of States, and reception conditions.

Penal Reform International, in a joint statement, welcomed the focus on discrimination against women in political and public life. The specific characteristics and needs of female offenders had been overlooked in a men-dominated criminal system. Penal Reform International highlighted the intersection of disadvantages of female offenders and their access to economic and social rights and continued violence against women; and encouraged the Working Group to incorporate the issue of women in conflict with the law in its work.

Canadian Federation of University Women said that acts of torture by private actors must be named as an emerging and distinct form of violence, predominantly gender-based and perpetrated against women and girls. The Committee against Torture had concluded that States parties were responsible for protecting persons, preventing acts of torture committed by non-State or private actors, compiling statistical data on complaints investigations, prosecutions and convictions on cases of torture involving domestic and sexual violence, and strengthening redress for victims.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said in a joint statement that Dalit constituted about 8 per cent of Indians and were among the most discriminated minorities. Dalit women suffered multiple discrimination including sexual and economic oppression and denial of active political participation. The continued suppression by law enforcement agencies and the lack of political will by the Indian Government were still the major concerns.

Migrant Rights International said that detention increased xenophobia and false assumptions associated with the irregular status of migrants, while expanding privatization of detention permitted rights abuse to pervade the surveillance of States. States should prevent arbitrary detention and open avenues for irregular migrants to live, work and access essential services. Irregular migration was not a criminal offence and should not be treated as such.

Concluding Remarks by Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants

FRANÇOIS CRÉPEAU, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, in closing remarks welcomed the comments of States which agreed that irregular migration should not be treated as a crime. That was why the use of the terminology “illegal migrants” should be absolutely avoided as it legitimated discourse on criminalization of migration and contributed to feelings of racism and xenophobia against migrants in host societies. That was also why he used the term “irregular migrants” or “migrants in irregular situations”. Mr. Crépeau was pleased to see the support of States for alternatives to detention and the overwhelming support for particular attention to vulnerable groups that were detained. Also welcomed was the agreement that children should not be detained. The Convention on the Rights of Migrants was an important instrument and its ratification sent an important message that human rights belonged to migrants like to any other person. There was lack of data on migration in general and on irregular migrants in particular; even more data was lacking with regard to migrants in detention. Finally, the Special Rapporteur thanked all States and non-governmental organizations for their collaboration and was looking forward to his upcoming country visits to Greece, Italy and Turkey.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights (A/HRC/20/26).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights on the mission to Austria (A/HRC/20/26/Add.1).

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights on the mission to Austria (A/HRC/20/26/Add.1/Corr.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights on the mission to Morocco (A/HRC/20/26/Add.2).

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children (A/HRC/20/18).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children on the mission to Australia (A/HRC/20/18/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children on the mission to Thailand (A/HRC/20/18/Add.2).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, on the report on the expert meeting on prosecution of trafficking in persons cases: Integrating a human rights-based approach in the administration of criminal justice (A/HRC/20/18/Add.3).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children on observations on communications (A/HRC/20/18/Add.4).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children on the mission to Thailand containing comments by the State (A/HRC/20/18/Add.5).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children on the mission to Australia containing comments by the State (A/HRC/20/18/Add.6).

Presentation of Reports on Cultural Rights and on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

FARIDA SHAHEED, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, presented the reports from her country missions to Austria and Morocco that had taken place in April and September 2011 respectively. Austria had adopted positive initiatives to ensure the realization of cultural rights, including for the promotion of cultural diversity and participation in cultural life, as well as measures to protect and promote cultural rights of recognized national minorities. However, further steps were needed. Promotion measures remained compartmentalized, lacking an institutional framework that would facilitate building upon valuable on-the-ground experience. The implementation of the rights of persons belonging to minorities and disadvantaged groups remained insufficient. Policies should aim at mainstreaming the cultural diversity and heritage of the country’s diverse populations, rather than simply at assigning rights to particular groups in a parallel fashion.

A visit had also been paid to Dakhla, Western Sahara. Morocco had made remarkable efforts in recent years to respect and promote human rights. The amended Constitution had strengthened the protection of human rights, including those of the most vulnerable populations, and it had conferred an official status to the Amazigh language. However, some existing laws, policies and practices were still not in keeping with Morocco’s international and constitutional commitments. The Government was encouraged to approach cultural diversity as an invaluable resource for the inclusion of all and to take measures to mainstream cultural diversity and the cultural heritage of the country’s diverse populations by, inter alia, promoting these cultures through education, the media and cultural activities, raising intercultural competencies of all official institutions and encouraging bilingual skills of civil servants.

Ms. Shaheed presented her annual thematic report focused on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its application and said that despite the fact that scientific innovations were changing in ways once inconceivable, the scope, normative content, and obligations of States under the right to enjoy the benefit of scientific progress remained underdeveloped. The implementation of this right was not an easy task. It was important to guard against the privatization of knowledge to such an extent that it deprived individuals of opportunities to take part in cultural life and enjoy the fruits of scientific progress. Ms. Shaheed was encouraged that despite the complexities involved and challenges posed, many important and innovative initiatives had been developed by States from all regions of the world as well as other stakeholders to promote the implementation of this right, including mechanisms to delink research and develop costs from product prizes. The recommendations of the report could be implemented in a rather timely manner. Further work was needed on the right, located at the juncture of civil and political rights on the one hand and economic, social and cultural rights. A multi-stakeholder engagement and dialogue was essential for the realization of this important right.

JOY NGOZI EZEILO, Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, introduced her thematic report which focused on a human rights-based approach to the administration of criminal justice in cases of trafficking in persons. It found that a significant majority of States had criminalized trafficking in persons but because criminalization was not an end in itself, many States, even those with advanced criminal justice systems and sophisticated anti-trafficking strategies, must look to improve their performance. Timely and accurate identification of victims was a complex task and in practice, trafficked persons were often arrested, detained and charged as smuggled or undocumented workers. States should continue taking proactive steps to build the capacity of front-line officials from all agencies for quick and accurate identification of trafficked persons. It was regrettable that many States still linked the provision of assistance and protection to victims to cooperation with national criminal justice agencies. The report recognized the important role of victim support agencies, often the first to come into contact with trafficked persons, and noted the various formal and informal practices of States in increasing cooperation between them. States’ efforts to end impunity for traffickers should include appropriate safeguards in the criminal justice responses that protected victims, witnesses and suspects, and integrated gender and age-based perspectives into investigations and prosecution. The Special Rapporteur urged States to enact clear and enforceable legal frameworks that were premised on respect for the human rights of trafficked persons.

Thailand faced significant challenges as a source, transit and destination country. Trafficking of men, women and children for labour exploitation was growing in scale in various sectors and the prevalence of tourism and the demand for sexual services continued to contribute to trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation. Thailand’s commitment in combating trafficking in persons was evidenced by its comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and the robust partnership with civil society organizations. Ms. Ngozi Ezeilo expressed her concern about a number of issues and the fact that the root causes of trafficking in persons in Thailand, such as restrictive immigration policies and the abuse of the human rights of migrants, had not been sufficiently addressed. Further efforts in this regard should include the revision of labour and migration laws to accommodate the demands for cheap, low- or semi-skilled labour and provide for safe migration options, as well as eliminate vulnerabilities of migrant workers and their families to all forms of human trafficking.

Australia was a destination country for trafficked persons and the majority of the identified victims to date had been women found to be working in the sex industry. Australia had shown strong leadership and committed considerable resources to combating trafficking in persons, developing strong partnership with civil society organizations and actively engaging in the broader region through aid and diplomatic initiatives. A comprehensive victim-centred approach was still somewhat lacking in protecting and providing assistance to trafficked persons and assistance to victims was made conditional upon their cooperation with authorities and their contribution and to the criminal justice response. Access to housing, medical and psycho-social support was also not readily available to those trafficked persons whose immigration status had not been regularized. A very strong focus, particularly by the media, on trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, resulted in lesser attention on other forms of trafficking in persons.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Austria, speaking as a concerned country, said that culture, active participation by all parts of society, and cultural education, had always been key priorities. Austria mobilised considerable sources to support and promote minority cultures. Numerous initiatives aimed at preserving the living culture and traditions of minorities. Austria continuously strengthened bilingual education for recognised national minorities, developing curricula in national minority languages, special qualifications for teachers in these languages, and special curricula for children with hearing impairments. Since the visit of the Special Rapporteur in April 2011, the National Minorities Act and the Austrian Ombudsman Board had been reformed. A process of revision of the Federal National Minorities Act was under review to strengthen the protection of minorities. Austria was aware of the continuous efforts necessary in the promotion and protection of all human rights, including cultural rights, for all persons, in particular those belonging to minorities, migrants and persons belonging to vulnerable or marginalised group; and looked forward toward a continuous dialogue.

Morocco, speaking as a concerned country, said that the visit of the Special Rapporteur took place in a context marked by tremendous efforts at democratic reform and establishing rule of law in Morocco. The new Constitution constituted a charter of fundamental rights as well as a linguistic covenant based on pluralism. It also accorded official status to the Amazigh through a gradual process of integration. The Special Rapporteur was able to see the various achievements of Morocco in the area of human rights in general and in cultural rights in particular. The remarks of the Special Rapporteur confirmed Morocco’s pioneering experiences. Morocco drew attention to the importance of ensuring the credibility of information received and avoiding generalizations on the basis of unverified allegations. Special Procedures had a duty to provide countries concerned with the information necessary to verify the truth of allegations and ultimately help them take the necessary steps to remedy these. Recommendations had been noted, in particular those in paragraph 86 of the report. Morocco stressed that recommendations were consistent with Government policy in the area of human rights.

National Council for Human Rights of Morocco said that the report by the Special Rapporteur stressed the progress made by Morocco in recognizing cultural rights and identified challenges in implementation of the measures taken by the Government. The National Council for Human Rights of Morocco noted with satisfaction the inclusion in the Constitution of the Amazigh language and the creation of the National Council for Moroccan Language and Culture. Still, the lack of visibility with regard to transparency in the process of effective implementation of this disposition was a point of concern. The Government should accelerate the process of elaboration of the law concerning the National Council for Moroccan Language and Culture and the integration of the Amazigh into education and public life.

Australia, speaking as a concerned country, said that, like other countries in the world, Australia was not immune to trafficking in persons. Due to strong immigration controls and geographic isolation, opportunities to traffic people to Australia were limited. Its anti-trafficking strategy with a 100 million $A budget, was built around four central pillars of prevention, detection and investigation, criminal prosecution and victim support and rehabilitation, and was intended to address the full cycle of trafficking from recruitment to integration. In line with the recommendations by the Special Rapporteur, Australia had introduced legislation to strengthen laws criminalizing trafficking and would shortly begin work on developing a revised National Action Plan which would include benchmarks and indicators to measure progress and impact. There were areas where the system to combat trafficking in persons could be improved and Australia would continue to strive to better its efforts including training for frontline officials, victim identification procedures and support services.

Australian Human Rights Commission noted the positive efforts of the Australian Government and highlighted some areas that could be strengthened. Among others, the Special Rapporteur had commended the proposed amendments to the criminal code act to reflect Australia’s international commitments under the trafficking protocol; the robust working relationship with civil society; and a good engagement across the national government, through inter-departmental government meetings. Nevertheless, the Australian Government could make improvements in some areas for improving the prevention of trafficking in persons and the protection of the rights of trafficked persons by re-developing a human rights-based approach national plan of action; placing a greater focus on a victim centred approach and on victims’ rights; providing specialist services for trafficked children; ensuring trafficked persons including children were not arrested or detained for long periods; and ratifying the Convention on the human rights of migrant workers and the 2011 International Labour Organization Convention on decent work for domestic workers.

Thailand, speaking as a concerned country, said that a draft anti-transnational crime process was under way to pave the way for the ratification of the United Nations convention against transnational organised crime and the trafficking protocol. There was certainly no one-size fits all solution to human trafficking. In dealing with challenges, socio-economic contexts, push and pull factors, as well as the legal and administrative system, all had to be factored in. Close coordination and information sharing was needed between the host country, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur prior to a country visit. Thailand was committed to working with partners in the fight against human trafficking and would continue its dialogue and close cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur in ensuring the rights, dignity and protection of persons at risk and trafficking victims.

Clustered Interactive Dialogue on the Promotion of Cultural Rights and on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

Philippines was aware that trafficking of persons was a complex and multi-faceted problem that called for a multi-sectoral approach and close coordination between and among various national agencies, as well as the cooperation of various countries on a global and regional level. An Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, both at national and sub-national levels, had been established in the Philippines and had resulted in the better provision of assistance to trafficked victims, as well as an increased number of arrests and successful criminal prosecutions of traffickers. It supported the observation that once identified as such, victims should not be prosecuted for offenses relating to their status as victims of trafficking.

European Union asked the Independent Expert to further elaborate on the ways through which States could facilitate access to scientific advances by vulnerable and marginalized individuals; about views about the relationship between the development and implementation of codes of ethical standards and codes of scientific conduct on the one hand, and the preservation of the freedom of scientific research on the other; and what practical actions States might take in order to ensure that scientific progress was not utilized in a harmful manner. Progress in the area of trafficking of persons demanded an unwavering commitment from all stakeholders and attention should focus on prevention in the first place. Could some examples be given on negative consequences of certain laws and policies and expound on possible effective ways to safeguard against such dangers?

Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that there was no doubt that a legal space had to be arranged, linked to the required freedom for scientific research. Such a legal framework should not ignore the Internet, the most used medium to convey scientific information at present. Strengthening of international cooperation in the field of science was necessary. The African Group stressed that the importance of the topic of trafficking of persons no longer needed to be demonstrated, and that an effective countering of this trafficking depended on the existence of national prevention and protection mechanisms for victims. States should continue training and capacity building internationally, regionally and sub-regionally.

Germany reiterated that the prevention of trafficking in persons should remain one of the top goals of the international community. Germany was firmly committed to the fight against human trafficking and to addressing associated issues. Germany appreciated the recognition of its national efforts to enhance the identification of victims. Germany asked the Special Rapporteur what the priority areas for improvement and better results in prosecution rates would be and also on her views on the harmony between the objective to protect victims of trafficking and securing higher prosecution rates.

Cuba agreed that benefits of scientific progress had positive impact on the lives of people and their human rights and included not only access to scientific results, but also to methodologies and technologies used to achieve those results. Trafficking in persons represented a violation of the most basic human rights and was very complex in nature; combating it required going beyond national borders and needed the greatest international cooperation possible, based on the respect of the international public law and the United Nations Charter.

Estonia acknowledged the seriousness of the phenomenon of trafficking in persons and was committed to combating it through bilateral and multilateral channels and participation in regional and international mechanisms. Parliament had this year amended the Penal Code to criminalize all forms of trafficking in persons and bring it in line with relevant international law. In addition to securing proper implementation of new trafficking laws and training of professionals, Estonia continued to focus on issues of forced labour.

Jordan, on behalf of the Arab Group, stressed that science had become indispensable in building societies in harmony with modern life. The progress of nations could not be measured by natural resources but innovations, scientific development and the acquisition of scientific and technical know-how. Trafficking in persons had adverse effects on economic, social and political levels and presented important challenges and constituted serious violations to the human rights of victims. The comprehensive Arab strategy had been developed in partnership with the regional representation of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime. Despite the implementation of norms, criminal justice had not responded accordingly and performance must be improved.

Belarus, on behalf of the Geneva Group of Friends against Human Trafficking, said this dialogue was a timely effort and appraisal of the current global plan of action which the General-Assembly had scheduled to carry out in 2013. Prevention, protection of victims and prosecution of perpetrators should remain at the heart of international responses to trafficking in persons. The Geneva Group noted the importance of relevant international instruments and welcomed ideas of further measures within the framework of the global plan of actions, including reporting in progress during the review of the plan of action in 2013.

Greece took note of the recommendations on the integration of human rights components in education programmes and the adoption of ethical standards and asked Ms. Shaheed how did she envisioned their fulfilment at State level. Did Ms Shaheed see an interconnection between the right to education and the right to science? Trafficking was a priority for Greece and its policy had been strengthened to combat trafficking more effectively. The Palermo Convention had been recently ratified and an informal inter-ministerial working group was operating. Despite progress much remained to be done in the field of national criminal justice responses to trafficking.

Austria was interested to know about the plan for follow up activities to the visit of Ms. Shaheed, as well as how she was planning to cooperate with relevant agencies and institutions. The timely and efficient identification of victims of trafficking was important and central to the criminalization of trafficking. It was of paramount importance to introduce reflection and recovery periods. In Austria, victims were granted 30 days to recover and reflect and this was not made conditional on their ability or willingness to cooperate. No measure to terminate their stay would be taken during this period. Once their status was identified, residence permits on humanitarian grounds could be issued for a period of at least a year. Given the cross-cutting nature of the issue, enhanced cooperation by international and regional entities in this field was essential.

Saudi Arabia said trafficking was a matter that had to be focused on in view of continued reports of this serious phenomenon. It required intensive international efforts and should gain the interest of the entire world. Saudi Arabia had taken a number of measures and procedures, including the issuing of an act to combat trafficking of persons in 2009, in harmony with all international standards in this context and including all forms of trafficking and prosecution of perpetrators. The role of organizations and experts in dealing with this phenomenon was important. The issue had to be addressed and proposals had to be made on how to best punish perpetrators. Saudi Arabia called for active, transparent, objective and impartial cooperation.

Uruguay said Uruguay had a national plan drafted as part of its general public policy actions in the area of science, technology and innovation for the period 2010-2030 that promoted policies to avoid social exclusion due to technological advancements. Despite progress, there were still many challenges. It was important to avoid the re-victimization of victims of trafficking, to provide them with protection, ensure their rights, and fully rehabilitate them into society. Uruguay had created specialized courts for organized crimes. The prompt identification of victims was of key importance if there was to be proper punishment of crimes. Uruguay was also working on the approval of an inter-institutional protocol to develop action related to prevention, care and restitution of rights.

Argentina shared the conviction that the respect for human rights of victims of trafficking must prevail and it was important to have awareness raising campaigns for police and judicial officials in this regard. Argentina pointed out some aspects of its legislation and the system of care for victims, including the recent decree law which prohibited advertising for sexual services. Regional and international cooperation was essential to prevent human trafficking which was of a global nature and that was why Argentina was in the process of concluding a cooperation agreement with a number of countries for the establishment of an integrated information system concerning trafficking in persons.

Georgia said that in line with the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons of 2010, and in particular with its prevention pillar, Georgia had increased anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns with messages aimed at a broader part of the population. To enhance the protection of victims of trafficking, in particular for shelters, resources had been increased by 50 per cent last year, and law enforcement officers were trained in victim identification strategies and measures. The Government had intensified its cooperation with civil society organizations, including in the elaboration of the joint National Action Plan.

United Arab Emirates confirmed the vision of the Special Rapporteur on a human rights-based approach to combating trafficking in persons based on international human rights law and international standards. Such an approach was the subject of a training course held last year where the Special Rapporteur also participated. There was indeed the need to intensify international cooperation in the field of scientific and technological progress, particularly because the implementation of those principles was often lacking on the ground, which impeded the enjoyment of cultural rights.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that trafficking in persons was a matter of serious concern for the international community. Trafficking had its roots in a number of push and pull factors and it was important to pay attention to the demand side of trafficking, including social and economic forces that developed and sustained a market for trafficking. It was necessary to analyse the ways in which human rights violations arose through the trafficking cycle. The right to science and the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community were inherently interlinked, as both related to the human pursuit of knowledge and creativity. In terms of enhancing access to scientific knowledge and providing affordable scientific advancement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation asked Ms. Shaheed how she saw the creation of an international enabling environment for the conservation, development, and diffusion of science while preserving and protecting the public interest.

Ecuador was a plurinational state in which it was essential to uphold cultural rights. That was why the Constitution recognized several languages of its people as official languages and it had bilingual education system with the aim of fostering the feeling of cultural and linguistic belonging. More than 2,000 educational centres had been set up throughout the country, which also worked on preserving and maintaining ancestral knowledge. Ecuador promoted international cultural cooperation as a way of achieving understanding among people. Ecuador echoed the international concerns about the rise in human trafficking over the past several years despite efforts to combat it. The victims of this international crime should not be punished and criminalized because this could compound their vulnerability.

Switzerland said that particularly important was the need for clear and enforceable legal norms to combat human trafficking and the Special Rapporteur had referred in her report to the definition contained in the Palermo Protocol. The proper interpretation of that definition was essential not only for the prosecution purposes, but to systematically identify victims and provide them with adequate and complete protection. Switzerland had launched the initiative to analyze the concepts from Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol, which would support States in ad hoc interpretation of the definition.

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