LSI statement on World Day against Trafficking in Persons

logo united nations

Statement by La Strada International on the first World Day against Trafficking in Persons

Today, 30 July, marks the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The General Assembly of the United Nations established this day to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

The UN is encouraging people across the globe to express their solidarity with the millions of victims of human trafficking by joining the #igivehope campaign on social media and by doing so, symbolically giving millions of trafficked persons back the hope that was stolen from them by traffickers.

La Strada International (LSI) welcomes this first UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons and is pleased that the focus of the day is on the situation of trafficked persons. Not only has their hope been stolen, even more importantly, they have been deprived of their basic rights. The human rights of people who have been trafficked are violated on a large scale. First of all by those who exploit and abuse them, but ironically, also by governments that are supposed to protect them.

People who have been trafficked have important rights for protection and support, according to general human rights laws and binding international counter-trafficking legislation, such as the UN Palermo Protocol, The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. These rights are: access to shelter and basic support; time to reflect before testifying; access to free legal aid; temporary residence; financial compensation for damages done and unpaid wages and not to be punished for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked.

These rights help them to recover and give them a chance to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, trafficked people’s rights are often not respected, leaving them vulnerable to re-trafficking. There is a large gap between the rights that victims of human trafficking are entitled to on paper, and the rights granted in practice.

LSI’s NGO platform campaign One Story Two Outcomes that was launched on Human Rights day in December 2013, calls for the full implementation of anti-trafficking legislation regarding the promotion and protection of the rights of trafficked persons. The campaign tells the story of Anna, a woman who finds herself released by the police after being ruthlessly exploited by her employers. What happens to her illustrates what it means for an individual if their rights are not respected, and what happens when they are.

Today, on this first World Day against Trafficking in Persons, La Strada International calls on everyone who wants to show their solidarity with trafficked persons to urge their governments to do what they are bound to according to international legislation: respect and promote the rights of trafficked persons and give them a chance to rebuild their lives.