Most secret shocked report about the new global slave trade part 3 A conventional approaches
Ever since the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, slavery has been recognized as the most abhorrent violation of a person’s liberty.
The practice runs counter to the entire modern history of human rights. Indeed, one of the un’s first acts after its establishment was to pass the Convention for the Suppression of the Tra⁄c in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which the General
Assembly approved in 1949. That convention updated international agreements from 1904 and 1910 on the “suppression of the white slave tra⁄c.” Although it dealt largely with prostitution, the 1949 treaty was far more ambitious in certain respects than anything that has been proposed in more recent times. In fact, the convention’s blanket condemnation of all forms of prostitution and brothels looks almost quaint by today’s standards, given the number of governments (such as, most famously, that of the Netherlands) that have since legalized the sex trade.
The most authoritative modern international agreement aimed at the slave trade is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Tra⁄cking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which was approved by the un General Assembly in 2000 after the g-8 (the group of leading industrial countries) declared its support for such an undertaking earlier that year.This agreement, which supplemented the un’s Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, reflected a growing awareness among world leaders of the role of organized crime in global commerce. Unlike earlier slavery treaties, the protocol does not mention prostitution; instead, it aims to serve as the “universal instrument that addresses all aspects of tra⁄cking in persons.”
The most di⁄cult issue faced by the diplomats who negotiated the treaty was how to define “human tra⁄cking” in the first place.The confusion stemmed from the fact that it is often di⁄cult to distinguish workers—even sex workers—who voluntarily take large loans at high interest rates in order to work abroad from those who are coerced into doing so and end up in bonded servitude. Separating the two groups requires establishing a clear definition of “deception” and “coercion”— no mean feat.
Reflecting the work of a committee,Article 3 of the protocol defines “human tra⁄cking” awkwardly as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring 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.”
It is not hard to see why governments that have signed the protocol have found it hard to incorporate this definition into their criminal codes.
In 2000, the United States took the lead by passing the Tra⁄cking Victims Protection Act (tvpa), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and reauthorized and strengthened by Bush in 2003.The tvp, which is widely regarded as a model for other countries, establishes a more precise definition of what constitutes human tra⁄cking, imposes stronger penalties than had previously existed, and allocates funds for compensation to the victims of human tra⁄cking and for cooperation escorts with foreign countries.
The tvpa also requires the State Department to issue an annual Trafficking in Persons Report that, among other things, classifies countries according to their eªorts to halt the slave trade.There are now 32 countries on the State Department’s “Tier 2 watch list,” a list of those governments that are making eªorts to comply with antislavery treaties but in whose countries compliance is still weak,1 and another 12 on the “Tier 3” list, a list of those governments that are making little eªort to halt the slave trade
Since the passage of the tvpa, the
has charged 189 individuals with sex tra⁄cking, up from only 34 during the five years before the law went into eªect. Federal prosecutors have won 109 convictions in these cases, up from 20 in the preceding period. United States
Sentences have ranged from 16 months to 23 years. The
government has also charged 59 defendants with labor tra⁄cking (two major cases involved 24 of these individuals). These cases led to, among other things, the first-ever extradition of Mexican citizens to the U.S. to face labor-tra⁄cking charges. United States
As a result of the tvpa, the
has been much more successful in cracking down on slave traders than have most other countries. For example, according to the un, in 2003 United States Lithuania prosecuted 24 tra⁄ckers but convicted only 8 of them, and Ukraine prosecuted 59 but convicted only 11.Among those countries that provide figures, only the Netherlands has a better record than the of prosecuting those involved with the slave trade. United States
Despite these accomplishments, the tvpa is far from perfect. For one thing, law enforcement o⁄cers have complained that it is di⁄cultto implement. One
police o⁄cer who was interviewed about the legislation reported that in one of his cases “half the 30 men arrested … were deported instead of prosecuted” for their crimes. California
Another major problem that prosecutors face is how to get victims of human tra⁄cking, who fear the repercussions for themselves and their families, to testify against their oppressors.
The tvpa has also failed to help the U.S. government make much of a dent in the global slave trade, for several reasons.To begin with, the available data suggest that only a relatively few slaves enter the United States each year. The Justice Department reported in 2006 that about 17,500 persons are tra⁄cked into the country annually; in the late 1990s, the cia put the figure at about 50,000. Even if one accepts the higher figure, this still means that the vast majority of slaves are traded outside the
. United States
Yet most other governments have not made combating the slave trade as high a priority as
has. This includes many western European governments, which (with a few notable exceptions, such as in Washington Sweden and the ) have done little to stop the flow of slaves from the East. As a result, ever-increasing numbers of young women and girls are being forced to work the streets of Netherlands France, Germany, and . This is despite the fact that Italy Europe has numerous nongovernmental organizations and media outlets concerned with the issue. Outside Europe, where such forces play a much smaller role, the situation is even worse. In Thailand, for example, traders who bring in women for prostitution are rarely prosecuted. Myanmar
, government o⁄cials show little concern over the plight of young women tra⁄cked into or out of their country. And in the Russia Persian Gulf, the use of slaves for prostitution, domestic service, and camel jockeying remains widespread even though it has been illegal since the 1960s.
has sought to cooperate with foreign governments in combating the slave trade, it has rarely punished a country for failing to act against human tra⁄cking. It is probably no coincidence that the lists of noncompliant states include important oil producers (such as United States Kuwait and Saudi Arabia), key allies in Washington’s war on terror (such as Uzbekistan), and great powers (such as China, India, and ). Under Russia law, the president has the authority to impose economic sanctions on states that fail to combat the slave trade by blocking foreign aid and military assistance. Unfortunately, this is rarely a useful tool, since most of the countries in question either do not receive U.S. aid or are of such compelling importance to national security that the president is unwilling to crack down on them. The Bush administration, like its European counterparts, seems to feel that a few slaves should not be allowed to get in the way of high politics. U.S.
Instead, Washington and its allies in the industrial world have taken the position that rather than target governments, they should focus their eªorts on the demand and supply sides of the slavery problem. But Western countries disagree about what those steps should be. And even if they could reach some sort of consensus, such measures would be insu⁄cient. The slave trade will only come to an end when a few key states muster the will to use force to liberate the victims.