Fight against human trafficking needs more data: UN

Other News Materials 13 February 2008 16:59 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The United Nations on Wednesday said that more information was needed to fight human trafficking effectively, while governments had to abandon their neglect of the issue.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, said at the start of a United Nations-sponsored anti- trafficking forum to fight the "monster", more must be known.

"Lack of information, statistical and otherwise, have left us looking at footprints of a creature whose shape, size and ferocity we can only guess. It lurks in the shadows. The profiles of its cronies and their networks are sketchy. Its victims are too afraid to run away and speak up, their number unknown," he said in his opening statement.

Human trafficking, a crime encompassing sex trade, forced labour or the use of child soldiers was a global crime on a par with the worst kind of torture and slavery, but often riddled with misconceptions delegates warned.

Costa called on countries to draw up a roadmap to fight what he termed "modern slavery."

The head of the UN crime office repeatedly called on countries to speed up the drive to implement the so-called Palermo Protocol, criminalizing human trafficking and increasing protection for victims.

Activists said that human traffickers were making an estimated 31.6 billion dollars annual profit from the plight of their victims. People from 127 countries were reported to have been trafficked into 137 countries to be exploited.

In Vienna, international organizations and NGOs are trying to increase awareness and push still reluctant countries to abandon their neglect of the problem. According to UN statistics, for every 800 persons trafficked, only one criminal is convicted.

Word needed to go out to the man one the street, British actress and anti-trafficking campaigner Emma Thompson said. "Unfortunately, many people frankly don't give a toss about young girls being raped," she said.

"You have a problem. You know what is going on, and if you do nothing, you allow it to happen," Latino pop star Ricky Martin, a campaigner against human trafficking told the 1,200 delegates gathered in Vienna.