WASHINGTON – The Inter-American Development Bank urged on Thursday greater cooperation among international actors and the private sector to fight against human trafficking worldwide and in Latin America, a scourge that mainly affects women and girls.
Fighting against this infamous crime is imperative and we are fully committed to this task, said IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone at the start of the “First technical dialogue on human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean,” noting that it’s important to strengthen the capabilities of institutions and to join civil society and the private sector.
In his remarks, Claver-Carone emphasized that people trafficking affects millions around the world in different ways: sexual exploitation, forced labor, pornography and child panhandling, domestic servitude, forced marriage and organ extraction.
More than 70 percent of the victims of these crimes are women and girls around the world, while in Latin America that percentage stands at 80 percent, according to figures compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Given this situation, the head of the UNODC section on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling, Ilias Chatzis, said that greater international cooperation is “key” for dealing with this problem in Latin America and the Caribbean.
While noting that the region has achieved important milestones over the last 20 years, Chatzis said that some challenges still remain to be dealt with and international cooperation is the key tool for doing so, going on to criticize the fact that in some countries the penalties for these crimes are less than they should be.
Latin America must tighten even more its links for greater regional and international cooperation, he insisted.
According to the UNODC global report on human trafficking, in recent years both the numbers of reported victims and convictions of traffickers have increased, especially in Latin America.
In that regard, the official in charge of coordinating Mexican government departments’ efforts to prevent, punish and eradicate the crimes associated with human trafficking, Felix Santana Angeles, said that the working group he heads is tasked with partnering civil society with academics and experts in his country to give greater “comprehensive attention” to the creation of public policies.
Meanwhile, the executive secretary for the Interinstitutional Commission against Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Persons in Honduras, Rosa Corea, also emphasized the work of her group in recent years, although she acknowledged that “much work still lies ahead.”
Apart from stressing the need for greater international involvement, the IDB also emphasized the importance of the private sector’s playing a principal role to reduce human trafficking in the region.
One of the speakers on the conference’s second panel of the day was Guatemalan Labor Minister Rafael Eugenio Rodriguez, who provided examples of the work his country’s government is doing with companies.
Among other things, Rodriguez said that the ministry he heads has launched an initiative to eradicate forced child labor in rural environments, has increased the penalties for – and strengthened monitoring and control of – such practices, as well as placing at the disposal of parents and employers a day care service for their young children.
The private sector also had two representatives on hand at the conference organized by the IDB: Ana Lorena Vigil, Uber’s law enforcement outreach manager for Latin America, and Hanna Darnton, the associate director of the Tech Against Trafficking organization.
As an example of Uber’s work against human trafficking, Virgil said that the firm has mounted information and training sessions for its drivers about this crime, provides advice for identifying situations in which it is potentially occurring and instructs its drivers on how to anonymously report these cases.
The virtual sessions of the conference will continue until Dec. 5.