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Fighting Human Trafficking Called Priority for Western Hemisphere

Region increasingly aware of problem, Organization of American States says

Posted: May 13, 2005
OAS PRESS RELEASE, May 11, 2005

The Organization of American States (OAS) has a key role to play in combating the crime of trafficking in persons, not only among the member states but also between the Western Hemisphere and other regions of the world, the OAS Anti-Trafficking in Persons Coordinator, Phillip Linderman, said today. In a report to the OAS Permanent Council, Linderman underscored the growing awareness throughout the Americas of the seriousness of human trafficking, a form of commercial exploitation that typically preys on women, children, migrants and people living in extreme poverty.

Linderman, whose office is part of the OAS Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), explained that many victims end up being exploited in the commercial sexual trade or in other types of forced labor, such as in agriculture, manufacturing sweatshops or domestic servitude. Trafficking in persons can occur within the same country or across international borders.

The OAS has been engaged in a dialogue on this issue with Japan, said Linderman, who said a Japanese delegation had met earlier this year with OAS Acting Secretary General Luigi R. Einaudi to discuss how to address this crime. According to a preliminary study commissioned by the OAS and released in April, an estimated 1,700 victims from Latin America and the Caribbean are trafficked to Japan every year.

The OAS has also retained an expert to study the trafficking of Chinese migrants to countries in the Americas and hopes to begin a dialogue with China on the issue, Linderman said. “The OAS is well positioned to speak for the hemisphere on this issue,” he said, adding that the member states are working to increase the exchange of information about this complex problem.

Linderman reported on OAS anti-trafficking efforts in the past year, which included holding seminars in a number of countries throughout the region. The next seminar on the issue is scheduled to take place later this month in Bolivia.

During the session, chaired by Peruvian Ambassador Alberto Borea, representatives of several member states noted that combating crime of human trafficking has become a priority for their governments and stressed the importance of taking an integrated approach to the problem that addresses aspects related to human rights, security, migration, law enforcement and other issues. A working group of the Permanent Council, chaired by Ambassador Manuel María Cáceres of Paraguay, has been discussing the possiblity of holding a comprehensive hemispheric meeting on the issue in the coming months.


Regular Meeting of the Permanent Council, May 11, 2005

Washington -- The nations of the Western Hemisphere are becoming increasingly aware of the seriousness of a crime called trafficking in persons, reports the Organization of American States (OAS).

In a May 11 statement, the OAS said the coordinator of its anti-trafficking in persons unit, Phillip Linderman, found that many victims of the crime end up being exploited in the commercial sex trade or in other types of forced labor, such as in agriculture, manufacturing sweatshops, or domestic servitude.

Trafficking in persons can occur within a country or across international borders, said Linderman, who is a U.S. State Department employee on loan to the OAS. Human trafficking, Linderman added, typically preys on women, children, migrants and people living in extreme poverty.

The OAS has been discussing the human-trafficking problem with Japan, said Linderman. A Japanese delegation met earlier in 2005 with OAS acting Secretary-General Luigi Einaudi to discuss how to address the crime. A preliminary study commissioned by the OAS said an estimated 1,700 victims from Latin America and the Caribbean are trafficked to Japan every year.

The OAS has also retained an expert to study the trafficking of Chinese migrants to countries in the Americas and hopes to begin a dialogue with China on the issue, Linderman said.

"The OAS is well positioned to speak for the hemisphere on this issue," he said, adding that the organization's 34 member states are working to increase the exchange of information about the problem.

Linderman also said the OAS is holding a number of seminars in the Americas about human trafficking. The next seminar on the issue is scheduled for May 18-20 in Bolivia.

The U.S. State Department, in its 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report, said Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana and Venezuela in the Americas and six other nations worldwide were not doing enough to stop the trafficking of thousands of people forced into servitude or the sex trade every year. The State Department said 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked globally each year. The State Department calls human trafficking "a modern form of slavery."

However, on January 3, the State Department issued a Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment that said Guyana was making "appreciable progress" in devoting more resources to anti-trafficking in persons efforts, "cooperating with the international community, modernizing national laws to sanction traffickers and keep minors out of prostitution, rescuing and protecting victims, and taking prevention measures."


Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


 

 

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