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Jordan: UN rights expert calls for prevention of human trafficking by improving working conditions for Jordanians, migrants and refugees

AMMAN / GENEVA (4 February 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Maria Grazia Giammarinaro today welcomed Jordan’s strong commitment to fight trafficking in persons, but urged the Government to further strengthen its legal framework and adopt prevention measures, especially related to regular channels for migration and employment, and protection of workers’ rights.

“A solid legal framework is in place. The challenge is now to fast track the revision of the legislation for a clearer definition and effective prevention and protection of the human rights of trafficked persons - after five years of implementation- and issue a new national strategy against trafficking,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children at the end of her first visit* to the country.

As a prevention measure, Ms. Giammarinaro called on the Government to increase opportunities for regular employment, ensure full implementation of recent regulations on domestic work with a view to better protecting domestic workers, and to increase safe migration options in order to eliminate the vulnerabilities of migrants to trafficking.

The expert also encouraged the government to continue efforts to address trafficking for labour exploitation, including domestic servitude, mostly affecting young women from South East Asia and East Africa, and exploitation of Syrian refugees, including a large number of children in agriculture and other sectors such as construction and garments.

“Stronger action is needed to prevent and counteract trafficking for sexual exploitation and internal trafficking,” she said. “The refugee and asylum seeking population is particularly affected by early marriages of girls with foreigners resulting in servile and exploitative situations including forced prostitution.”

“The possibility of sexual exploitation of Jordanian women and girls cannot be ruled out” the Special Rapporteur warned, noting that such hidden cases can only be identified if there is an active search for them.

She urged the Jordanian authorities to devote greater attention to the prevention of trafficking “through better protection of the rights of all workers, be they Jordanians, migrants or refugees, with a particular attention to domestic workers.” She also drew attention to the illegal practices of recruitment agencies, which are often aware of the slavery-like conditions in which domestic work will be performed.”

“Exploited and trafficked persons must be adequately supported, in cooperation with civil society organisations, and must have access to remedies including compensation,” she said welcoming plans for a special fund to ensure compensation for trafficked persons when the perpetrators have not been identified or their assets have not been confiscated.

Acknowledging the enormous challenges related to the mass influx of Syrian refugees, the expert called on the Government to continue implementing its generous policy towards refugees, and urged the international community including the European Union, to take action and effectively support Jordan's efforts.

Ms. Giammarinaro encouraged the Jordanian authorities to keep building upon the progress made in addressing trafficking in persons by broadening its focus on the preventing of trafficking and exploitation of refugees, including by increasing the opportunity to work regularly in the country.

She further called for accurate identification of cases of trafficking in persons and risk factors leading to trafficking , especially among refugees and asylum seekers living outside the camps, with a specific attention to individuals in situation of vulnerability, such as women head of households and unaccompanied or separated children.

During her eight-day fact finding visit in Amman, Ms. Giammarinaro met with representatives of various government agencies, the judiciary, the National Center for Human Rights as well as representatives of UN agencies, international organizations, civil society and victims of trafficking.

The expert also visited the Al Azraq refugee camp for Syrians, the Juwaidah correctional and rehabilitation center and 2 shelters for victims of trafficking one run by the Ministry of Social Development and the other by Jordanian Women’s Union.

The Special Rapporteur will present a final report on her visit to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2016.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17011&LangID=E

Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. Ms. Giammarinaro has been a Judge since 1991 and currently serves as a Pre-Trial Judge at the Criminal Court of Rome. She was the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the OSCE, and served in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security in Brussels, where she was responsible for combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. She drafted the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Jordan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/JOIndex.aspx 

For more information and media requests, please contact Selma Vadala (+41 22 917 9108 / svadala@ohchr.org / srtrafficking@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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