Thesis: International Law and Human Trafficking

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International Law and Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking in the World

Human trafficking is the forcible transport of persons to other countries to render sexual or other services (Herro 2006). About half of those abducted are girls of minor age. Despite the reluctance of many governments to admit involvement in human trafficking, the U.S. State Department said 600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked worldwide. A 2006 United Nations report said that almost all countries in the world are affected or involved. Director Carol Yost of the Asia Foundation's Women's Empowerment Program described human trafficking as ultimately a human rights issue. She also said, however, that the campaign against this violation had achieved some gains in Asia, initially through raised awareness through the media. Laws in many countries have been strong on the issue. In 2004, there were 438 prosecutions and 338 convictions in East Asia. The State Department considered this a laudable achievement in the region, which did not have a record of a single prosecution. Certain initiatives have been put in place in other parts of the region, such as Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam and the Philippines. Greater coordination among local organizations is still badly needed to attend to the needs of trafficked individuals. These are centers, hospitals, prosecutors and the police. The internet has been a valuable means in disseminating information and help (Herro).

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that human trafficking impedes sustainable development and the rule of law (Herro 2006). Unlawful profits from the illegal act breed or sustain corruption, crimes and even terrorism. Help and support for the victims and their rehabilitation and deportation are also problems in countries with limited resources. Trafficked children are a particularly vulnerable group. Trafficked persons who get infected with HIV / AIDS through prostitution become a public health burden and a barrier to their support and repatriation (Herro).

Violation of International Regulatory Law

The initial response to the issue was the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (Potts 2003). Several agreements, conventions and protocols followed but did not address all the aspects of the issue. The first global effort came only in December 1998 in the form of an ad hoc committee, created by the United Nations General Assembly's Resolution 53/111. Member nations and non-governmental organizations met in Vienna and came up with the International Convention against Organized Transnational Crime and supplementary protocols on alien smuggling and trafficking of persons in Palermo, Italy in December, 2000. Approximately 124 of the 189 member states of the UN signed the treaty. Eighty states signed the related protocol on trafficking. Its purpose is to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children; to protect and assist these victims, with full respect of their human rights; and o promote cooperate among the State parties in fulfilling these goals (Potts). The two other protocols are a Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and a Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (Wikipedia 2009). All three instruments fall under the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime or UNODC. They oblige the ratifying States to form their own national trafficking legislation (Wikipedia).

On May 16, 2005, the Council of Europe adopted the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Wikipedia 2009). Of its 47 member States, 21 signed and 17 ratified it. It came into force on February 1, 2008 (Wikipedia).

International Regulatory Efforts

The Italian government would devote 25% of its yearly confiscated assets to the UN to help member States implement the Convention and the related protocols (Potts 2003). This gesture served to inspire other developed States to help poorer ones in the common fight. On the other hand, the U.S. House and Senate passed a legislation, which would allot $95 million for two years to combat trafficking. It was passed by both houses. It increased the penalty to a maximum of life imprisonment to trafficking operations. It also authorized grants for rehabilitation and shelter programs for victims, offered relief from deportation facing retribution; helped foreign governments to stop sex-trade activities; and set up a process to withdraw non-humanitarian aid to governments tolerating trafficking. The G/TIP within the State Department directs and coordinates federal efforts against trafficking (Potts).

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice created the special non-immigrant visa category T. visa (Potts 2003). It is to enhance the capability of law enforcement to detect, investigate and prosecute trafficking offense. At the same time, it offers haven to victims. Through the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department can issue up to 1,000 T. visas each year. The visas are renewable up to three years with the possibility of adjusting to permanent legal status on humanitarian grounds. This can legitimize the status of victims and protect them from repatriation to dangerous countries or locations. They can also testify against traffickers who can then be apprehended and punished (Potts).

The Department of Justice ha a $10 million allocation for grants to fund domestic trafficking victim service programs at the state and local levels (Potts 2003). The Department of Health and Human Services has more than $1.25 million to distribute to U.S. organizations to help victims' needs for housing, mental health, legal assistance and cultural orientation. The Agency for International Development has supported anti-trafficking programs in 25 countries. An example is the support extended to 7 regional centers in Ukraine for job training skills for women victims, hot lines and crisis intervention (Potts).

Myanmar

Myanmar was among the countries listed by the U.S. State Department as "the world's most systematic human rights violators" in its 2005 report (Kyodo 2006). Their authoritarian-to-closed-totalitarian systems severely restrict or deprive their peoples completely of their basic rights, according to the report. More than 100 countries were covered by the report. Myanmar repressed and kept "iron-fisted control" of its citizens while promising them reform. Other concerns were forced labor, use of child soldiers, and religious discrimination, the report stressed. Women are trafficked from Myanmar to Thailand and China for sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked to China for labor exploitation (Kyodo)

International Efforts

The government ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

and the supplemental protocols against trafficking (UNODC 2007). A Department was also created to handle trans-national organized crime within its Ministry of Home Affairs

and an anti-trafficking police unit. International experts would participate in its 2005

legislation. Myanmar is also one of the six participating countries in the Coordinated

Mekong Ministerial Initiative against the Trafficking process. The other countries are

Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding to fight trafficking. They started working on a sub-regional Plan of Action (UNODC).

Domestic Law

In response to the report and the censure by the international community, the Myanmar government introduced the Trafficking in Persons Law in mid-2005 (Kyodo 2005). Rallyan Mone, head of the Myanmar police anti-trafficking unit, said that violations would be imposed the maximum penalty and freeze the violator's property. It was drafted according to the guidelines of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Myanmar officials claimed that they had arrested 939 human traffickers in 474 cases from July to December, 2004. Of this number 485 were convicted and imprisoned. The junta thus protested against the report, which said the Myanmar government had not adequately addressed the issue. The accusation was viewed as politically motivated. The government said a comprehensive framework had been in operation. It consisted of national legislation, high-level commitment, a national plan of action and a bilateral, regional and international cooperation (Kyodo).

The U.S. State Department, however, substantiated its report on Myanmar with abundant evidence on continued forced labor in the country (Kyodo 2005). The abuses met the U.S. And UN standard definitions of human trafficking. Evidence also showed that the military government supported or tolerated forced labor in large infrastructure projects (Kyodo).

The new Trafficking in Persons Law is aimed at preventing and suppressing human trafficking, especially of women, youth and minors (Kyodo 2005). It would be enforced by the military junta and punish violators from a minimum of 3 years imprisonment to the maximum penalty of death. The 10 chapters of the new law align Myanmar with international conventions' goal of suppressing human trafficking. The law empowers the military-led government to form a Central Body for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons. Its vast powers include communicating and coordinating with foreign governments, international organizations, and foreign and local non-governmental organizations and supporting anti-trafficking projects. It likewise punishes officials at a maximum of 7 years imprisonment who demand or receive bribes for human trafficking (Kyodo).

A 41-year-old woman was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for violating the anti-trafficking law (Kyodo 2006). The district court of Tachileik found her guilty of selling two young Myanmar women into prostitution in Malaysia. Reports said she promised the young victims with employment at a restaurant in Mae Sai but sold them into prostitution at the border… [END OF PREVIEW]

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International Law and Human Trafficking.  (2009, April 26).  Retrieved December 12, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/international-law-human-trafficking/303109

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"International Law and Human Trafficking."  Essaytown.com.  April 26, 2009.  Accessed December 12, 2019.
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