GENEVA (2 June 2010) – “Trafficking in persons -one of the most appalling forms of human rights’ violations- remains one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world, and the role of regional organizations fighting against it cannot be underestimated,” UN Special Rapporteur Joy Ngozi Ezeilo said on Wednesday, before presenting her annual report* on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, to the Human Rights Council.
“While better cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination is key to address this scourge,” the independent expert said, “the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in catalyzing the action of States in combating trafficking in a specific region has not received sufficient attention and support.”
“I am convinced that regional and sub-regional mechanisms play a key role in providing a response that is both multilateral and sufficiently close to countries’ realities and specificities within a certain region,” she added.
The Special Rapporteur’s 2010 report focuses on the role and added-value of these cooperation mechanisms in the fight against trafficking. Ms Ezeilo shares a number of good practices that could positively be reproduced in other areas of the world. She also highlights the most pressing challenges that these organizations face, including the growing use of new information technologies by traffickers around the world.
Noting that the majority of regional and sub-regional organizations still tend to focus almost exclusively on the criminalization of traffickers, the Special Rapporteur urged them to adopt a human rights and victim-centred perspective in the action: “In order to be effective, they should put the rights of the victim at the core of their strategies and actions. By doing so, they will succeed both in protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers.”
“One of my key messages,” Ms Ezeilo stressed, “is that it is only by properly protecting and assisting victims that you can effectively prosecute traffickers”.
The Special Rapporteur plans to hold a consultation on the topic of her report, inviting representatives from regional and sub-regional organizations and other relevant partners.
Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo assumed her functions as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children on 1 August 2008. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has also served in various governmental capacities, including as Honourable Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development in Enugu State and as a Delegate to the National Political Reform Conference. She has consulted for various international organizations and is also involved in several NGOs, particularly working on women’s rights. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law.
(*) The Special Rapporteur’s report is available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.32.pdf