Wed | Dec 12, 2018

UN report: Caribbean children represent significant number of human trafficking victims

Published:Thursday | December 22, 2016 | 11:19 AM

A new United Nations report says a significant number of children in the Caribbean and Central America are victims of human trafficking.

The report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released on Wednesday, says while worldwide 28 per cent of trafficking victims are children, children account for 64 per cent in Central America and the Caribbean.

Sixty-two per cent of the children who are victims of human trafficking are in sub-Saharan Africa and 69 countries detected trafficking victims from sub-Saharan Africa between 2012 and 2014.

The report says that the vast majority of all human trafficking victims – 71 per cent – are women and girls and one third are children.

“Trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labor remain the most prominently detected forms,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. “But victims are also being trafficked to be used as beggars, for forced or sham marriages, benefit fraud, or production of pornography.”

The 2016 UNODC Global Report disaggregates data on the basis of gender, finding that women and girls are usually trafficked for marriage and sexual slavery.

Men and boys, however, are trafficked into exploitative labor, including work in the mining sector, as porters, soldiers and slaves, the report says.

Fedotov emphasised the link between armed groups and human trafficking, noting how armed groups often engage in trafficking in their territories of operation, coercing women and girls into marriages or sexual slavery, and pressing men and boys to act as forced labor or combatants.

“People escaping from war and persecution are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking,” he said. “The urgency of their situation might lead them to make dangerous migration decisions.”

The report documents patterns among trafficking and regular migration flows that share the same destination country.

It also identifies trends within countries, between neighboring States and across continents.

Factors that tend to aggravate rates of trafficking include transnational organised crime in the country of origin and a victim’s socio-economic profile, the UN said.

While 158 countries have criminalised human trafficking – “a huge improvement over the past 13 years,” according to the UN, Fedotov, nonetheless, warned that “the rate of convictions remains far too low, and victims are not always receiving the protection and services countries are obliged to provide.”

He, therefore, called for more resources to identify and assist trafficking victims, and to improve the criminal justice responses to detect, investigate and successfully prosecute cases.

The UNODC releases a report on trafficking every two years.