The widespread exploitation of vulnerable workers, including many women and children, has escalated dramatically during the COVID-19 epidemic, and new international and national measures are urgently needed to help wipe it out, according to a United Nations expert today. Those who have lost their employment and been reduced to famine – for example, in the tourist or domestic labour industries – have been compelled to accept even more exploitative working circumstances, according to Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in people. To celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, she issued the following statement. Workers in areas deemed critical during the COVID-19 epidemic, such as agriculture or transportation and delivery, have been forced to work under pressure, for extended periods of time, and without the proper safety precautions in place.” Children in emergency situations are particularly exposed to the most heinous kinds of child labour, which include slavery and servitude. People who are used in prostitution and the sex business, primarily women and girls, have been starved to death by their traffickers and exploiters throughout the lockdown, and they have been subjected to even more brutal and harsh abuse since the lockdown was lifted in December 2017
.In light of the current economic crisis and the predicament that millions of workers find themselves in, the effect of the pandemic demonstrates that the tendency towards growing severe exploitation, notably in the context of trafficking, continues to be on the rise – and is much more so today. In light of this, I am persuaded that a paradigm shift is required in the prevention and combat of human trafficking, which must be authentically motivated by a human rights agenda in order to be truly effective. Despite the fact that the United Nations’ “Palermo Protocol” supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the primary international instrument on trafficking, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, anti-trafficking action continues to be restricted to a specific area of law enforcement-led activities, while massive exploitation occurring in many economic sectors goes unnoticed. Desperate people quotes further explain this idea.
It is now necessary to move beyond the Palermo Protocol and to develop a new strategic vision. The Protocol must be interpreted and implemented through a human rights lens, in accordance with soft law such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, as well as human rights court case law; governments must make significant changes to national anti-trafficking legislation and implementation regulations, which must be brought into compliance with international human rights standards. It is possible that this will not be sufficient, and that states may explore establishing a new international instrument that addresses exploitation from a human rights-based perspective.
International and state legislation should alter in five dimensions in order to support a human-rights-based approach to anti-traffic States and businesses should be required to adhere to due diligence obligations, particularly in the areas of prevention, access to effective remedies, including in supply chains, and long-term measures aimed at social inclusion of trafficked and exploited persons, including child rights-based measures; 2) trafficked and exploited persons should be allowed to appeal negative decisions on residence status and assistance; 3) the non-punishment principle should be applied to any exploitation or trafficking of persons.
In accordance with the United Nations Palermo Protocol on trafficking, states have an obligation to criminalise trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. However, prostitution per se should be decriminalised everywhere to allow trafficking victims to come forward and report exploitation without fear of being detained or charged with providing sexual services. Furthermore, no anti-trafficking measures shall be used that violate the human rights of exploited individuals – primarily women and girls – or that make their lives more difficult or impair their capacity to flee from severe abuse and exploitation.
All anti-trafficking initiatives must take into consideration the needs of both men and women. Prevention should focus on fundamental causes such as gender disparities and discrimination, including women’s limited access to material and cultural resources, sexual and domestic abuse, and conflict-related sexual violence. Long-term initiatives for the social inclusion of trafficked women and girls should be transformational in character, rather than being based on gender stereotypes. Meaningful connections between women who provide and receive care have long been at the heart of women’s empowerment, and they should be seen as a global hotspot for human rights-based activities. The subject matter expert: Frau Maria Grazia Giammarinaro has been appointed as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in people, particularly women and children.
Currently serving as the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in people, particularly women and children, Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro has also served as a judge since 1991. A former Pre-Trial Judge in the Criminal Court of Rome, she is presently a Judge at the Civil Court of Rome, where she has worked for almost a decade. A new position was created for her in February 2019 as Adjunct Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in the School of Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She had previously drafted the European Union Directive on preventing and combating human trafficking and protecting its victims, as well as Italian legislation on trafficking in human beings, judicial action against discrimination, and protection orders against domestic violence, among other things.
Special Rapporteurs are members of the Human Rights Council, which is also known as the UN Human Rights Council. It is the general name given to the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms, which address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures are the largest body of independent experts within the United Nations Human Rights System, and they include a diverse range of experts from around the world. The experts who work for the Special Procedures do so on a volunteer basis; they are not employed by the United Nations and do not earn a payment for their efforts. They are completely autonomous of any government or organisation and act only in their own capacity in their service.