Heads of two United Nations bodies have taken a firm stand against human trafficking, especially child trafficking, in the tourism sector by pledging to stamp out this hidden scourge through joint efforts.
Mr Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), have therefore called for a concerted global action at every level of society to fight the problem.
In a statement April 24, 2012, the UNWTO said both have “signed a memorandum of understanding to step up cooperation against this form of exploitation”.
The UN agencies believe that the tourism infrastructure is being used for the exploitation of and trafficking in persons – and children are especially vulnerable as the sector is expected to boom in 2012.
UNWTO said “A staggering one billion tourists, or one in seven of the world’s population, will travel abroad in 2012 – and the sector is expanding. While this expansion drives economic growth, job creation and development, there is evidence that…victims of trafficking are most often enslaved for sexual purposes, but they might also be found in kitchens or cleaning guesthouses, restaurants and bars.
It added “Tourism infrastructure can, in turn, create markets for forced and exploitative begging and street hawking. Even organs from victims of trafficking are used today to attract people who need a transplant”.
“It is appalling to see tourism infrastructure being used by traffickers to victimize the vulnerable, yet our sector is firmly committed to reclaim this same infrastructure and use it for awareness raising in the fight against trafficking”, said Mr. Rifai.
“Today, our two organizations are conveying a strong message to the world that we will not be party to activities that exploit women and children,” said Mr. Fedotov during the 21st United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).
Mr. Rifai said: “We are here to reiterate the tourism sector’s commitment to combating human trafficking, an unacceptable affront to human rights and dignity, and to set out clear steps for stronger cooperation in fighting one of the most dreadful crimes of our time.”
The tourism sector can and should play a vital role in preventing human trafficking linked to tourism, including sexual exploitation, said Mr. Fedotov.