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Press Release


  March 26, 2009

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, highlighted the importance of having a high degree of legal harmonization in the hemisphere to fight human trafficking, in a speech at the opening of the Second Meeting of National Authorities on the issue, held in Buenos Aires.

Ambassador Ramdin recalled that human trafficking is the third most lucrative business in the world, right behind illegal arms trade and drug trafficking. “At the hemispheric level, Member States are not exempt of this crime”, he said. As a matter of fact, he added, conditions such as poverty and lack of opportunities makes most of the countries in the region “vulnerable” to it.

Ramdin said that fighting human trafficking should be focused mainly in two fronts, prevention and victim protection. To reach both goals, he explained, there must be a “comprehensive legal system”.

“Having legal co-operation at the national and regional level following international norms, and harmonization on laws and judiciary procedures is mandatory”, he said.

Having a legal frame compatible with “international norms and instruments”, he said, would help a country prevent human trafficking and other related forms of “exploitation”.

Regarding victim protection, necessary to get them to help identify criminals, Ambassador Ramdin said the first step must be identifying the victim. “This implies that State officials and authorities”, such as “police, migration and customs officers or consular and diplomatic personnel”, should get “appropriate training”.

“Only a comprehensive legal system can make sure that victims will not be prosecuted for breaking migration laws or for activities in which they may take part as victims”.

Ambassador Ramdin recalled that the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children came into effect in December 2003. As a consequence, “some countries” improved their fight against this crime, even though “there is still much left to be done”, because “many people become victims every day”.

The meeting in Buenos Aires is the second Edition o fan event that first took place three years ago in Isla Margarita, Venezuela. The principle of co-responsibility among countries of origin, transit and destiny was then recognized, remembered Ramdin.

In Isla Margarita the foundations were laid for consideration of issues such as “the establishment and implementation of legal frames with criminal responsibility, creation of plans and programs related to training, prevention, assistance and protection of victims, and the need for statistical information”, he said.

Ambassador Ramdin finished his speech offering recognition to both governments of Argentina and Uruguay, hosts of the meeting, and insisting on his personal and commitment and that of the OAS with initiatives to combat human trafficking in the hemisphere.

Reference: E-097/09