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Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Persons in the Americas

By Fernando Garcia

  • 25 November 2016
  • Posted by: Jane Piazer
  • Number of views: 3143
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Nations and populations around the world, and countries of the Americas are not the exception, experience conditions such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, discrimination, exclusion, lack of a life perspective, among other factors. These hardships can contribute to the possible involvement of these populations with opportunities that seem to lead to a better life. However, what may seem like a great prospect, can turn into a crime that violates the basic human rights of individuals without differentiating among sex, social or economical status, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, to name a few.

The name for this crime is trafficking in persons and governments of the world, including member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) have signed and ratified conventions and protocols condemning the practice of criminal acts manifested in: sexual and labor exploitation, sex tourism, exploitation resulting from the illegal adoption of children, removal of organs, domestic servitude, forced marriages, children in armed conflicts, exploitation by street begging, etc.

According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime “trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.

In the Americas, the General Secretariat of the OAS is deeply committed to preventing and combating the crime of trafficking in persons. The Organization accomplishes this objective by means of a two-pronged and coordinated approach: at the political level, through the following-up of various agreements and resolutions; and on a programmatic level, through the implementation of programs and activities.

At the political level, the OAS member States come together and participate through the highest national authorities on trafficking in persons. In the period 2006-2014, member States have reunited four times where a number of recommendations and mandates have been provided, ensuring that public, private, and non-for-profit sectors follow globally and regionally accepted guidelines in the prevention, the prosecution of criminals, and protection of victims of trafficking in persons (Venezuela (2006), Argentina (2009), Guatemala (2012) and Brazil (2014).

In 2014, during the meeting of High Authorities in Brazil, member States approved by consensus, the Declaration of Brasilia, as well as the Second Work Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Western Hemisphere to be executed during 2015-2018. Such Work Plan not only presents member States commitment to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, as well as to protect victims of this crime, but also serves as an instrument that reflects the reality of trafficking in persons in the Americas.

The Second Work Plan takes into account different manifestations of exploitation considered trafficking in persons, provides special attention to specific vulnerable populations such as indigenous communities and LGBTI groups, and presents a set of indicators that will permit to follow member States achievements and challenges. The following are some of the topics included as part of its mandates and guidelines:

  • Establishment of national mechanisms to monitor trafficking in persons related strategies.
  • Adopt measures to ensure that what constitutes trafficking in persons is irrespective of any consent given by the victim, regardless of their age.
  • With regard to children under the age of 18, the crime of trafficking in persons does not require showing that force, fraud or coercion were used.
  • Reinforcement of national capacities through training initiatives.
  • Address trafficking in persons in comprehensive strategies and/or broad prevention actions plans.
  • Establishment, update and strengthening of national instruments and programs to combat trafficking in persons.
  • Foster the adoption of policies that assure that victims of trafficking in persons who don’t have regular migration condition have access to protection mechanisms.
  • Promote the adoption of legislation and procedures that prevent victims of trafficking in persons being involved in immigration and/or deportation procedures.
  • Foster the adoption of legislative measurements so that victims of trafficking in persons are not processed, detained or sanctioned for being part of illegal activities they were coerced to execute.

On the programmatic level, the General Secretariat has developed and continues to do so, implementing programs and activities designed to assist member States in strengthening their capabilities to combat trafficking in persons taking both, a human rights and a gender perspective. The Secretariat’s mission, among others, is to create awareness, provide training, disseminate international legal frameworks, and share best practices that enable States to prevent, prosecute criminals, and protect the trafficking victims, when appropriate.

Currently the General Secretariat, in its efforts to comply with the Second Work Plan, is engaged among others, in compiling information from member States that will provide knowledge and strengthen cooperation in the region. The main areas of concentration will be: national authorities; legislation, policies and programs; advocacy; training; cooperation; information systems; victim protection and assistance; and best practices in preventing and combating trafficking in persons.

Category:Blogs
Country:United States of America
Language:English
Year:2016
Institution:Organization of American States
Author:Fernando Garcia

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