The United Nations in Kuwait Marks the ‘World Day Against Trafficking in Persons’

Kuwait – In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 30 July as the ‘World Day Against Trafficking in Persons’ (WDTIP). In observance of this day, the United Nations in the State of Kuwait, and its mandated agencies, namely the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – UN Migration, continue to underscore their commitment towards combatting the abhorrent crime of trafficking in persons and protecting its victims.

To this end, several agreements have been put in place and signed by member states, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which complements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). The Protocol defines Trafficking in Persons as 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.

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Each year, thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked in their own countries and abroad. The retrogradation of economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened vulnerabilities and increased the numbers of people at risk of being targeted by traffickers. No country is immune to trafficking in persons whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. In this context, international cooperation is crucial to combat this crime by raising awareness, protecting vulnerable groups, and promoting victim’s rights.

Dr. Tarek Elsheikh The United Nations Secretary General Representative and UN Resident Coordinator said “Armed conflict, displacement, climate change, natural disasters and poverty exacerbate the vulnerabilities and desperation that enable trafficking to flourish. Migrants are being targeted. Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts and in detention centres, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers playing their monstrous, merciless trades. There is lots of work needs to be done to bring transnational trafficking networks to justice and, most of all, to ensure that victims are identified and can access the protection and services they need and the United Nations through its mandated Agencies, funds and Programmes are collaborating with International community to fight trafficking in persons and bring traffickers to justice.

Dr. El-Sheikh added: “the United Nations in Kuwait plan of action has leveraged the Secretary General Call to Action for Human Rights, the Leave No One Behind framework and the implementation of the SDGs as policy and advocacy tools to bring attention to the need to protect migrant workers’ human rights, including preventing trafficking and other forms of exploitation. Within our plan efforts the Un Network for Migration are Supporting the strengthened Government of the state of Kuwait capacities to improve the governance of migration, including facilitation regular migration pathways, and to address and reduce vulnerabilities faced by migrants. This included but not limited to Map and continuously update procedural instructions and processes to guide the Government of the state of Kuwait and other national stakeholders, including migrants themselves, on regular migration pathways.

Dr. El-Sheikh elaborated further “Sustainable Development Goals include clear targets to prevent abuse and exploitation, to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls, and to eradicate forced labour and child labour. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us reaffirm our commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives.

In recent years, IOM Kuwait undertook several projects, and initiatives aimed at countering human trafficking. This included, five awareness-raising campaigns for the public to shed light on the issue of human trafficking and the rights of domestic workers, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Information. IOM also provided technical expertise in associated programmatic areas, including training workshops on the protection of temporary contractual labour and potential victims of trafficking for government and civil society representatives. IOM worked in close partnership with the Government of Kuwait on strengthening the capacity of relevant national counter-parts and ministries tasked with the protection of victims of trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers, including employees of the Public Authority for Manpower’s government-run shelter for female foreign workers. IOM also works to combat trafficking in persons, in cooperation with UN agencies, including UNODC, the diplomatic community, non-governmental organizations (NGO)’s and the private sector – mainly through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Mazen AboulHosn, IOM Kuwait Chief of Mission “Every year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) seizes this opportunity to raise awareness on the seriousness of the grave crime of human trafficking and shed light on the suffering of the survivors, and to promote their rights and protection. IOM Kuwait relies on two approaches to combating trafficking in persons; first: Prevention through awareness-raising and trainings on the issue of trafficking in persons, second: Protection by providing assistance to survivors, and working with governments on anti-trafficking policies, provided that prosecution is carried out by the concerned countries. Our priority is to work with the State of Kuwait to combat human trafficking.”

The UNODC has launched a campaign entitled ‘Victims’ Voices Lead the Way’ to mark this year’s WDTIP with the aim to raise awareness on victims’ pivotal role in the fight against trafficking. On this occasion, Dr. Hatem Aly, UNODC Representative for the Gulf Cooperation Council Region and Chief of Mission stated: “As the custodian of the UNTOC and the Protocols thereto, every year, UNODC marks this day to support member states to highlight the growing challenge of trafficking in persons and the urgent need to provide all means of protection and care for its victims. We appreciate our partnership with the State of Kuwait and the efforts of the National Committee on Combating Human Trafficking (NCCHT) and its members entities in the area of preventing and fighting trafficking in persons and protecting the victims; especially within the framework of our joint training programmes with our UN-sister agency, the IOM.”

Dr. Aly concluded: “We look forward to the continuation of the successes achieved through the NCCHT’s efforts and to the development of the first-ever- national strategy of the State of Kuwait in the field of combating trafficking in persons and caring for its victims.”

In line with its commitment to combatting human trafficking, the State of Kuwait issued Law No. 91 of 2013 on ‘Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants’ and established the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Trafficking unit in 2015. In 2021, through its specialized trafficking unit, the State of Kuwait continued to investigate potential trafficking crimes and increased prosecutions under the anti-trafficking law, including taking necessary legal action against perpetrators. Moreover, a number of new policies to protect workers vulnerable to trafficking were introduced and shelter and protection services to victims of trafficking were provided.

This indicates the increasing efforts of the State of Kuwait in combatting this heinous crime and taking concrete measures towards the protection of trafficked victims, prevention of trafficking crimes and prosecution of perpetrators.

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