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Argentina must break the human trafficking chain, urges UN expert

BUENOS AIRES (12 September 2010)– The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, warned that trafficking in persons is a modern day slavery reaping huge profits for many businesses and others implicated in the human trafficking chain in Argentina.

“Trafficking in persons is complex, dynamic and hugely underestimated in Argentina,” said the independent expert concluding her seven-day mission from 6 to 12 September. Ms. Ezeilo found that Argentina has clearly become a destination country for children, women and men who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or practices similar to slavery.  “I am particularly concerned about trafficking in children especially for bonded labour and forced prostitution.” 

Ms. Ezeilo, who visited Buenos Aires and Posadas, expressed concerns that coordination of anti-trafficking activities between the national and provincial levels is weak, so that measures to protect and assist victims of trafficking do not sufficiently reach the provinces outside Buenos Aires.  She added that victims are not afforded adequate protection and access to justice, including witness protection before and after trials.  Further, she noted with concern the corruption of the police and security forces, which hinders effective prosecution of traffickers and fosters the culture of impunity.        

“The Government must urgently reform the federal anti-trafficking law to strengthen the legal framework for protection and assistance to victims, as well as prosecution and punishment of traffickers,” urged the Special Rapporteur.  She made a number of preliminary recommendations to the Argentinean authorities, including providing holistic, re-integrative and rehabilitative assistance to victims of trafficking in all provinces, establishing a federal central agency to enhance coordination of anti-trafficking activities, and implementing a zero tolerance policy with respect to corruption.   

(*):  Check the end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/trafficking/docs/PressStatementSRTIPArgentina.doc
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.

Learn more about the mandate and activities of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/trafficking/index.htm

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