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Human Trafficking, UNODC: refugees and migrants are particularly vulnerable. Lambertini (Italy): “Accountability is key”

Migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean

NEW YORK, 21 December – “People escaping from war and persecution are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking. The urgency of their situation might lead them to make dangerous migration decisions”, said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov today, launching a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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Discovering that women and children are most affected by human traffickers – 71% of all human trafficking victims are women and girls and one third are minors (a rate that grows to 62 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 64 per cent in Central America and the Caribbean), the 2016 UNODC Global Report also analyzed patterns among trafficking and regular migration flows that share the same destination country. Factors that tend to aggravate rates of trafficking include transnational organized crime in the country of origin and a victim’s socio-economic profile.

Yet, “the rate of convictions remains far too low,” despite 158 countries have criminalized human trafficking, Fedotov stressed. “Accountability is fundamental: Italy is committed to bringing to justice individuals proven guilty of trafficking and related crimes, owing to victims’ identification and testimonies of survivors”, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Inigo Lambertini stated at the High-Level Launch of the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

A week ago, Italy convicted Tunisian Mohamed Alì Malek, (27) and Syrian Mahmud Bikhit (25), whom the court found involved in the April 18 2015 shipwreck, in which about 700 migrants lost their lives. Only 28 people, including two minors, survived the sinking, and were brought to Italy. The two were sentenced to 18 and 5 years in prison and were handed € 9 million fines.

Calling for the implementation of the “Palermo Convention” and its Protocol, Lambertini underscored that “Italy is actively working to disrupt the business model of traffickers. At the national level, Italy is focused on prevention, victim protection, anti-discrimination measures, strengthened law enforcement and judicial cooperation. On February 2016 a National Action Plan on Combating Trafficking in Human”.

The Ambassador reiterated the “Italy’s commitment to saving lives at sea and has rescued more than 350,000 people since 2014”. On December 20, the Italian Coast Guard was named new Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), acknowledging its efforts in rescuing thousands of minor migrants and refugees.

Yesterday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution dedicated to addressing trafficking in persons, while next year the GA will gather to evaluate the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking. (@annaaserafini)

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