Media Center

Press Release


  November 20, 2003

In a videoconference sponsored by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) and the Inter-American Children's Institute (IIN) and held at the Organization of American States (OAS), experts from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and the United States issued a call for political resolve, economic resources, and an appropriate legal framework to halt trafficking in persons in the Hemisphere.

According to Ann Jordan from International Human Rights Law Group, a U.S. nongovernmental organization, pressure must be brought to bear on governments so that they recognize trafficking in women, adolescents, and children as an international crime against human rights, and ensure legislation approaches the issue differently from migration. She added that it was essential to establish an information network enabling governments and civil society to prevent and protect the victims of this scourge.

Experts from Central America, Dominican Republic and the United States on the topic of migration and trafficking in persons agreed that the problem was a human tragedy impossible to quantify as it involved the clandestine operation of national, regional, and international networks also engaged in sex tourism. They noted that it was a crime that should be dealt with through information campaigns and, to that end, called on the mass media to launch a broad educational and preventive campaign.

Laura Langberg, a CIM/OAS expert, then presented the conclusions of a study recently prepared in conjunction with the IIN in Brazil, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic, conducted by NGOs in each of the countries. The report concluded that trafficking in persons was caused, inter alia, by poverty, violence, corruption, and gender and age discrimination. The problem was exacerbated by a reluctance to identify victims out of fear of reprisals, the failure to offer witnesses legal protection, and the absence of the issue from the national social agenda in most countries.

The videoconference, moderated by Univisión anchorwoman María Elena Salinas , is the first of a series of presentations organized by the CIM aimed at drawing attention to the issue in the Hemisphere. The Executive Secretary of the CIM, Carmen Lomellin, underscored the importance of coordinated efforts by governments and civil society to deal with these crimes

Reference: E-227/03