A crime that shames us all: modern slavery
One of the worse crime today is human trafficking or, to call what it is, modern slavery. The issue has moved up the political agenda. It has caught the attention of the public, and those (media, celebrities) that shape it. This is most important: success will not depend on bureaucrats, but on society’s willingness to fight modern slavery -- as it’s happening in equally titanic struggles to contain pandemics, manage the environment and cope with under-development. What is needed now?
Bonding legal and operational initiatives against slavery
Rules of engagement (legal instruments) without a game (operations) are futile; a game without rules is chaos. With the help of a few questions, I’ll show that concrete operational measures will help countries meet the legal obligations agreed in internationl fora. I’ll focus on (i) prevention, (ii) prosecution and (iii) protection.
Let me start with prevention. Governments must establish an anti-slavery national strategy. Ask whatever authority you deal with, these simple questions::
1. In your campaigns with civil society, information and media, to warn potential victims of the dangers they face, have you linked up with global efforts to raise awareness and discouraged demand?
2. Poverty, ignorance and lack of opportunity are not legal, but contextual conditions: did you mobilize funds to alleviate the vulnerability of people?
3. Law enforcement agencies run networks to exchange information on trafficking routes, traffickers’ and victims’ profiles: did you plug into them?
4. Did development institutions channel assistance to vulnerable regions/groups, and did intelligence agencies cooperate to stop transactions?
Regarding prosecution, governments must have enacted anti-trafficking laws. Again, ask your authorities the following:
1. While penalties must be congruent to the severity of the crime, was your judicial system up to the task, or did it need technical assistance?
2. While distinguishing victims from criminals, did you mobilize international institutions specialized in the protection of women and children?
3. Would have, coherence among specialized agencies, helped your country or countries source/destination of your victims, rendered your work easier?
Victim protection requires programs for their physical and social recovery. Do ask your government the following:
1. Your social workers cannot master the languages of victims coming from the four corners of the world: did you use the specialized technology now in place to alleviate the suffering? Were these high-tech tools helpful?
2. Rescued victims require visas, housing and resources to start a new life, as well as compensation. Did you use specialized philanthropic services?
Governments’ role in fighting slavery it is crucial: equally important iis the role of individual stakeholders – media and the private sector -- whose involvement and coordination is urgently needed. Thank you for your support and for your attention.