Address human trafficking

Editorial

TODAY is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes, including forced labour and sex.
Since 2003, the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC) has collected information on about 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide.
Globally, countries are detecting and reporting more victims and are convicting more traffickers.
This can be the result of increased capacity to identify victims and/or an increased number of trafficked victims.
According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons report released by the US department of state, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Papua New Guinea and they subject victims from Papua New Guinea to trafficking abroad.
Traffickers also use PNG as a transit point to subject foreign individuals to another country.
Traffickers exploit foreign and local women and children in sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced labour in the tourism sector, manual labour, and forced begging and street vending.
According to international NGO research conducted in previous years, approximately 30 per cent of Papua New Guinean sex trafficking victims are children under the age of 18, with some as young as 10-years-old.
Immediate family or tribe members reportedly subject children to sex trafficking or forced labour.
Some parents force children to beg or sell goods on the street, and some sell or force their daughters into marriages or child sex trafficking to settle debts, resolve disputes between communities, or support their families.
In PNG, the Government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including advancing a prominent trafficking prosecution initiated in a previous reporting period, identifying and referring more victims to protective care than in 2017 and jointly conducting foreign donor-funded training for law enforcement and judicial officials.
An acute lack of financial and human resources dedicated to anti-trafficking, as well as very low awareness among government officials and the public, hindered progress.
Over the past decade, IOM has been working closely with Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, PNG Centre for Judicial Excellence, DJAG and NGO partners to provide awareness – raising on trafficking in persons, develop action plans and standard operating procedures, enhance coordination on victim referral and deliver technical training to law enforcement officers, members of the judiciary and those providing social services to victims.
Like the heroes saving lives and sustaining our societies in the Covid-19 pandemic, these dedicated frontline workers continue to deliver vital services throughout the crisis – identifying victims, ensuring their access to justice, health, social assistance and protection and preventing further abuse and exploitation.
However, much more needs to be done.
This year, the focus on the first responders to human trafficking.
These are the people who work in different sectors – identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.
Our police, immigration and customs enforcement officers should be trained on the standing operating procedures for victim identification, referral and protection.
Allocate resources, including dedicated staff, to government agencies to implement the national action plan.
Strengthen the national trafficking committee by designating senior officials to represent their agencies, increasing awareness of the committee among potential stakeholders, and allocating increased resources for its activities.
Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes on earth.
We should act now, there is no time to waste.

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