Introduction: Slavery is believed to be a no longer existing phenomenon because of its worldwide abolishment but the enslavement
in other forms still remains strong. With the transnational operation called human trafficking, slavery remains alive and thriving. Trafficking in persons is a global issue. This is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar business. Human trafficking is now second only to drug trafficking in relation to international organized crime. This, in part, is because the exploitation of trafficking victims in brothels, sweatshops, and fields around the world exists free of “geographic limitations.” Trafficking in persons is the equivalent of modern-day slavery. It is no longer a question of race and color for those being enslaved; it is now a question of vulnerability.
In the past, one person legally owning another person defined slavery, but modern-day slavery has changed its definition. Today slavery is illegal everywhere, therefore no one can legally own another human being. Slaveholders maintain control of a person, having all the “benefits of ownership” without the “legalities”. This lack of legality dismisses the slaveholder's responsibility, which is interpreted as an improvement in the eyes of a slaveholder.
The fight against trafficking is still maturing; because of this a general universal consensus about concepts, definitions, or terminology does not exist. A distinction between “smuggling” and “trafficking”, however, has been established. The trafficking of persons is coupled with coercion, exploitation, deception, violence, and other forms of either physical or psychological abuse. Trafficking is a human rights concern, whereas smuggling is a migration concern.
A smuggler generally makes his or her profit upfront once entry into the desired country has taken place, at which time the relationship with the “client” ceases to exist. Human trafficking, in contrast, is founded upon the institution of an exploitive relationship that continues beyond the initial transporting phase; this generally implies the further controlling of the victim by the trafficker for a long period of time after entering the new country.
When enacting laws against trafficking, it is of extreme importance to define trafficking in a broad manner so as ascertain that all the allied violations of human rights fall within its ambit.
Trafficking - Overview
The international community is sharply divided in its approach to the definition of trafficking in women. Until the drafting of the 2001 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the main international legal document concerning trafficking was the 1949 United Nations Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The 1949 Convention took an approach to trafficking and prostitution that required states parties to punish any person who "procures, entices or leads away, for the purposes of prostitution, another person, even with the consent of that person; or exploits the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person."
The 2001 United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons was the next major document on this issue. In defining trafficking, drafters of the Protocol had to negotiate around the differences between advocates endorsing the approach similar to that taken in the 1949 convention and advocates favoring the regulation of commercial sex work. These differences centered on the question of consent in commercial sex work.
The definition of trafficking adopted in the 2001 United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons reflects a compromise. The language adopted allows individual states to choose how they will address prostitution. The definition states:
"Trafficking in persons" shall mean 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 or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
Despite signs of a growing consensus on the international definition of trafficking in human beings, there remains debate over the correct approach to trafficking in domestic law. Human rights advocates and government institutions continue to discuss exactly what activities should and should not be considered trafficking. As trafficking is a complex issue, with interrelated social and economic factors, the most effective approach may be to adapt one's working definition of the problem to the specific task or project. For example, while legislation requires a precise description of prohibited behavior, outreach or rehabilitative work may be the most effective if trafficking is defined expansively.
Conclusion and Suggestions
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3), No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; Slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms (Article 4), No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5). International conventional law has recognized trafficking in persons as a human rights violation. The 1956 Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery outlawed slavery practices including debt bondage, serfdom, bride price and exploitation of child labor. The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) explicitly prohibited “exploitation or prostitution of women” and “all forms of trafficking in women” [Article 6]. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child mandated that state parties must take all appropriate measures to prevent “the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form” [Article 35].
Recognition of trafficking in persons as a transnational crime is essential in combating human trafficking. Cooperation between countries of origin and countries of destination must be a part of any transnational legal response since apprehension of traffickers, investigation of cases of trafficking and prosecution of the traffickers sometimes require cooperation between countries of origin and countries of destination in matters “including request for assistance, search, seizure, attachment and surrender of property, measures from securing assets, service of judicial decision, judgments and verdicts.”
In response to recent international mandates a number of new anti-trafficking legislation has been enacted which have shifted the focus from criminalizing the behavior of the ficked person to recognizing such a person as a victim of a crime. In these legislations the crime control approach to trafficking in persons has been coupled with a human rights-based approach to trafficking. Many immigration policies have been redefined to allow for a legitimate immigration status for the trafficked person.
International conventions against slavery, trafficking, and the rights of migrants and the rights of women are a significant source of publicity, these conventions broadcast the abuses involved in human trafficking and draw attention to government neglect of its commitments. Publicity of the crime of trafficking in persons and awareness in the community is vital to fighting human trafficking. Government agencies must play a major role in raising awareness. This includes the spread of information about the facts, the provision of counseling for those thinking of migration and work with families and communities in order to build alternatives to leaving home.
With regards to trafficking in persons as a severe violation of human rights, states should implement programs that deal with the victims of trafficking in a “comprehensive and compassionate” manner. These programs are necessary to treating victims with the dignity and care that they deserve, but they are also helpful in establishing victim cooperation, which is essential for combating trafficking. Deportation is still the norm in most parts of the world, which, as mentioned early, does nothing to diminish the traffic and instead makes the victims of trafficking less likely to report their situation and more dependent upon traffickers and pimps. This is an essential issue that needs to be addressed. Victims of trafficking are entitled to basic human rights; efforts need to be made insure that these rights are no longer violated by legal systems.
Of course it is assumed that each country will have to find an approach to combat trafficking in persons that suits the specific needs of that country, as trafficking affects sending, receiving, and transit countries differently.