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Trafficking for the removal of organs is a real issue, but little is known about it – UN Special Rapporteur

GENEVA (13 June 2014) – Available information on trafficking in persons for the removal of organs is inadequate and often unverified, the outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, said during the presentation of her latest report* to the UN Human Rights Council

“However, emerging forms of trafficking in persons such as trafficking for the removal of organs do in fact occur in many parts of the world and are not rare,” Ms. Ezeilo emphasized as she urged States and the international community to address the problem with determination.

“This lack of information mainly results from the clandestine nature of the trafficking and from the fact that victims have little opportunity and incentives to denounce such violations,” she said.

The human rights expert stressed that “trafficking in persons for the removal of organs is, first and foremost, a violation of human rights which needs urgent attention from the international community.”

All States have an international legal obligation to prevent this violation, prosecute offenders and protect and assist victims, Ms. Ezeilo noted. “This obligation arises through the application of specialized trafficking in persons laws and through international human rights law,” she said.

“The nature and scope of trafficking in persons have significantly expanded in the past decades,” the Special Rapporteur states in her report. “It is now widely accepted that women, men, boys and girls are trafficked and that the forms of trafficking are as varied as the potential for profit or other personal gain.”

More than US$ 51 billion are generated by human trafficking caused by forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities, according to the International Labour Organization.

“While women and girls remain the most vulnerable to this plague, men and boys are also victims of these grave human rights violations and their situation need due attention,” the human rights expert said, while urging Governments worldwide to broaden their perception of the problem, including through a more gender balanced and human rights focused approach.

The Special Rapporteur also called on States to focus actively on addressing other emerging and less well-known forms of trafficking, such as illicit recruitment practices, trafficking in men for forced and exploitative labour, trafficking for forced begging and criminal activities, trafficking for forced or servile marriage, as well as safe return and the risk of retrafficking.

In her report to the UN Human Rights Council, which reviews the 10 years of anti-trafficking work of the mandate, the expert highlights the contribution of the mandate to key conceptual and legal gains, especially with regards to the rights of victims of trafficking to effective remedies

Ms. Ezeilo also identifies remaining challenges such as the need to clarify the international legal definition of trafficking in persons, strengthening the accountability of non-State actors, and involving civil society, victims and vulnerable groups. She offered concrete recommendations to Member States and her successor.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/annual.aspx

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (Nigeria) started her mandate as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children in August 2008. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has served in various governmental capacities and consulted for various international organizations, and is currently 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, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Selma Vadala (+41 22 917 9108 / svadala@ohchr.org), Yaye Ba (+41 22 917 9210 / yba@ohchr.org) or write to srtrafficking@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
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