Sunday, September 30, 2012

Human trafficking: Beyond resolved?

Human trafficking is a lucrative industry that is controlled by crime syndicates who are in cahoots with corrupt politicians and law enforcement authorities.

In fact, it is the world's fastest growing organized crime that has remained unsolved for many generations. As a result, this criminal act has destroyed the lives of millions of innocent victims, including children, who were either duped, forced or sold,  by reason of poverty, to work as prostitutes in brothels, child laborers or slaves in big farms.

Statistics shows that at least 20.9 million people are trafficked each year.  Sexual abuses account 22 percent of this total. In America alone, an estimated 100,000
innocent girls, aged 12 to 14, have become victims of human trafficking. This illegal trade has generated about US$22 million in online sex transactions annually. This figure doesn't include the revenues that may have been generated  from street sex solicitation using these young girls.

Second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world,  the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons were estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion in 2004, it was reported. But the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated the annual global profits of trafficking to have reached $31.6 billion in 2005. But some critics said the figures were grossly inflated for the purpose of international advocacy.

As part of his crusade, prior to the forthcoming elections, President Barack Obama has committed to issue a policy that will strengthen the government's resolve to end human trafficking across the globe.

In 2000, the United Nations adopted in Palermo, Italy, the Trafficking Protocol, otherwise known as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress  and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children. It is the first global agreement on trafficking in over half a century and the only one that sets out an agreed definition of trafficking in persons. The Trafficking Protocol is attached to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Under its provisions, the Protocol defines human trafficking as 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 services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."

Despite the strict issuance of protocols in agreement with other countries, many people are asking as to why the illegal trafficking of humans is still proliferating? Of course, there are no immediate solutions to this societal malady. it has been around for many decades, and the traffickers are always advanced in creating strategies  that will outwit effective plans of government operatives. And apprehending the criminals was even made more difficult in situations where the human traffickers had established rapport with government authlorities, in exchange for huge bribes.

Although using strategies to catch the criminals vary accordingly. But most of the human trafficking activities occur in countries where poverty incidence is higher and where corrupt politicians and law enforcers connive with crime syndicates. This is the main reason why the established agreements and laws against human trafficking are less effective.

Studies conducted by non-government organizations (NGOs) indicated a disturbing trend in the implementation of anti-human trafficking laws. The Philippines is not exempted from this.  In most cases, prosecution of those involved in human trafficking becomes doubly difficult to prosper. The US State Department said this is because judges in the Philippines lack the knowledge to interpret laws on human trafficking.

Besides, it was observed that trials involving human trafficking take many years to decide due to lack of judges and courtrooms, which all the more aggravate the huge backlog of criminal cases that a single judge holds. Consequently, most of the complainants lose interest to pursue the cases against the suspects.

Unicef executive director Carol Bellamy stated: "The Philippines is among the few countries that are making a dent in the fight against the trafficking of women and children. She added: "This is not going to be easy. We are dealing with criminals and they are not stupid. There are lots of money to be made and they will go to any length to continue harming and exploiting children in this awful way."

Human rights activists and other cause-oriented groups pointed to the police and the military as the ones protecting pimps and owners of videoke bars and night clubs that promote prostitution.  IMA Foundation executive director Susan Pineda was quoted as saying that, "probably the series of raids on alleged prostitution fronts is mainly aimed to force the establishments to pay P50 daily per entertainer as "protection money" by some persons closely connected with City Hall."

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