Some 27% of all victims of human trafficking officially detected around the world between 2007 and 2010 are children, up seven per cent from the period 2003 to 2006, according to a new report released yesterday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
"Human trafficking requires a forceful response founded on the assistance and protection for victims, rigorous enforcement by the criminal justice system, a sound migration policy and firm regulation of the labour markets," said UNODC's Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, in a news release on the findings of the agency's 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.
The findings include an increase in the number of girl victims, who make up two thirds of all trafficked children. Girls now constitute 15 to 20% of the total number of all detected victims, including adults, whereas boys comprise about 10%, according to the report, which is based on official data supplied by 132 countries.
The Global Report provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at the regional, national and global levels, based on trafficking cases detected between 2007 and 2010, or more recent cases. It also includes a chapter on the worldwide response to trafficking in persons, and presents a national-level analysis for each of the 132 countries covered in this year's edition.
Within the report's findings, UNODC noted, there are significant regional variations. While the share of detected child victims is 68% in Africa and the Middle East, and 39% in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, that proportion diminishes to 27% in the Americas and 16% in Europe and Central Asia.The vast majority of trafficked persons are women, accounting for 55 to 60% of victims detected globally.
However, the total proportion of women and girls together soars to about 75%, with men constituting about 14% of the total number of detected victims. Nonetheless, this is not a uniform picture as one in four detected victims is a male.
According to UNODC, Mr. Fedotov acknowledged the current gaps in knowledge about this crime and the need for comprehensive data about offenders, victims and trafficking flows. Still, the agency said, the number of trafficking victims is estimated to run into the millions.
There are significant regional differences in the detected forms of exploitation, according to the report. Countries in Africa and in Asia generally intercept more cases of trafficking for forced labour, while sexual exploitation is somewhat more frequently found in Europe and in the Americas. Additionally, trafficking for organ removal was detected in 16 countries around the world.
The 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons also raises concerns about low conviction rates - 16% of reporting countries did not record a single conviction for trafficking in persons between 2007 and 2010.
"Significant progress has been made in terms of legislation, as 83% of countries now have a law that criminalizes trafficking in persons in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children," UNODC added in the news release.
Adopted by the General Assembly in 2000 and entering into force in 2003, the Protocol is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons. The aim behind the definition is to facilitate convergence in national approaches with regard to the establishment of domestic criminal offences that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases.
An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights.