Multiple crises, conflicts and the climate emergency increase vulnerabilities to human trafficking and diversify trafficking risks, which is why governments and other stakeholders must allocate adequate attention and resources to combating it. This is the message from the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), in a statement published on the eve of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, and echoed by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).
ICAT’s statement stresses that responses to human trafficking are significantly lagging, despite global estimates suggesting an increase in the total number of people, especially children, in various situations of exploitation. This means that growing numbers of trafficked persons and those at risk are left behind, without access to assistance, justice and remedy.
“These concerns are regularly raised in GRETA’s reports, which highlight the low rate of prosecutions and convictions for trafficking in human beings, the lack of effective access to compensation for victims of trafficking, as well as the challenges posed by the increasing use of information and communication technologies,” said GRETA President Helga Gayer, calling on the 48 States Parties to the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention to maintain their focus on these issues and to strengthen resources to curb this scourge.
“Governments are faced with new, sometimes competing priorities, which result in less human and financial resources allocated to the fight against human trafficking”, highlighted GRETA’s President. “A clear political commitment is needed to sustain and strengthen efforts to combat human trafficking, following a human-rights based approach”.
GRETA recently launched the fourth evaluation round of the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention, with a thematic focus on addressing vulnerabilities to human trafficking, including the use of information and communication technology, which structurally changes the way offenders operate and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities.
GRETA is responsible for evaluating compliance with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the States Parties. It is the only independent group of experts to monitor the implementation of binding international legal provisions in this field. The Convention entered into force in 2008 and has been ratified by all 46 member States of the Council of Europe, as well as two non-member States, Belarus and Israel.
ICAT is a political forum mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to improve coordination between UN agencies and other relevant international organisations in order to facilitate a holistic and comprehensive approach to preventing and combating trafficking in persons.