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States must redress wrongs committed against trafficked persons - “It is their human rights obligation”

BRATISLAVA (24 November 2010) – The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, urged governments from all countries of origin, transit and destination, to provide for the right to an effective remedy for trafficked persons. “This is a fundamental human right and should be guaranteed to all victims of human rights violations including trafficking.”

“Trafficked persons must be able to access competent and independent authorities and receive reparations for the harms they have suffered, including compensation,” Ms. Ezeilo stressed at a gathering of anti-trafficking experts from around the world convened by the Special Rapporteur in Bratislava on 22 and 23 November 2010.

At this meeting, experts from a variety of sectors discussed ways and means to realize the right to an effective remedy for trafficked persons, focusing on the normative framework, content and scope of the right to an effective remedy, as well as States’ responses and concrete strategies to implement this right at the national level.

“Access to information, legal assistance including free legal aid, and regularization of their residence status while seeking remedies, are necessary pre-conditions for trafficked persons to exercise their right to an effective remedy,” Ms. Ezeilo emphasised. “The safety, privacy, confidentiality and dignity of trafficked persons while seeking remedies must also be ensured at all times. States’ responses in this field should also be tailored to fulfil the human rights of specific groups of trafficked persons such as children.”

The UN independent expert said that “all countries of origin, transit and destination, have the duty to provide for the right to an effective remedy for trafficked persons. I hope that this consultation is the first step towards outlining basic principles to guide efforts to implement the right to an effective remedy for trafficked persons.”

Ms. Ezeilo thanked the Government of Slovakia and reiterated her gratitude to the UNDP Regional Centre in Bratislava for its support in making this meeting possible. The discussions during this meeting are intended to inform the Special Rapporteur’s report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 on the right to an effective remedy for trafficked persons.

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. Ms. Ezeilo was conferred with a national honour (Officer of the Order of Nigeria) in 2006 for her work as a human right defender.

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

For more information and media requests, please contact Junko Tadaki (Tel: +41 22 917 9298 / e-mail: jtadaki@ohchr.org) or write to srtraffiking@ohchr.org.