World Day against Trafficking in Persons
The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.
Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, Children make up almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide. Additionally, women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims, the report states.
In 2010, the General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, urging Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge.
In 2013, the General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action. Member States also adopted resolution A/RES/68/192 and designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. This resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
In September 2015, the world adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and embraced goals and targets on trafficking in persons. These goals call for an end to trafficking and violence against children; as well as the need for measures against human trafficking, and they strive for the elimination of all forms of violence against and exploitation of women and girls.
On the occasion of this day we are taking a look at the thematic laws of Iran, regarding human trafficking and a brief review of them.
For the first time in Iran 84 years ago the traffickers punishment law was ratified, which was a law regarding the trafficking of goods – which included weapons. In 2004, the Islamic Parliament ratified the Fight against Human Trafficking Act, and removed the existing legal vacuum. But the rush for its ratification resulted in some of the important subjects related to this crime to remain silent.
According to article 1 of this Act, the definition of trafficking is: a) the exporting or importing and or legal or illegal transit of an individual or individuals through the country’s borders, through force, threat and deception and or the abuse of power or position or exploitation of the situation of the stated individual or individuals, for the purpose of prostitution, or organ removals, slavery and marriage. b) Receiving or transfer or hiding or facilitation of the individual or individuals subject of paragraph (a) of the article to be hidden following going through the border for the same purpose. Of course the Act continues to include acts that are deemed trafficking and mentions the punishment of the perpetrators.
This Act in its 8 articles and 3 clauses defines trafficking and the punishment of its perpetrators. Unlike some international documents which solely deal with trafficking of women, and or the internal laws of some countries which only mention trafficking of children, this Act resolutely supports all individuals against trafficking, and deals out hefty punishment for traffickers of individuals under 18. Another notable point of this Act is it protects all individuals from any nationality, and the victim has no trace of the committing of the crime. In other words this crime can be committed by any Iranian or foreigner against any Iranian or foreign individuals.
In this Act, trafficking has beyond borders aspects and part of the crime must be committed outside Iran. The transportation of individuals within borders, even if they are for the same purpose, are not deemed as trafficking crimes, whereas human trafficking must not be solely to do with beyond national borders, and it would be apt that the legislator considers this in the future.
Also in Iran, although the crime of trafficking in the first place is a crime committed against persons, but clause 1 of article 3 it points out that in some circumstances this crime can be an example of Moharebeh (enmity with God), which is deemed a crime against national security. If the perpetrator of this crime has a government post, then he or she is faced with a more severe punishment.
In this Act, the time and place the crime was committed is not effective in the type of punishment. But it would have been better for the legislator to adopt stronger measures in cases where individuals are more vulnerable to trafficking due to not having good situations. For example in disasters such as floods and earthquakes or war individuals that are involved have conditions where they need more financial and mental support, and it is better to consider heftier punishments as the price paid for committing this crime.
Also in this Act, the consent of the victim has no effect in the occurrence of a crime, apart from cases where it’s removing organs or marriage. In other words, if an individual consents to being trafficked for taking body organs or marriage, then that person will not be included in the Act. In this event only if the trafficking is organized then it will be included in this Act, but it seems it would have been better for the legislator to deem the consent of the victim ineffective. Because many times individuals fall for the promises of the traffickers and are not aware of the terrible fate that awaits them. In these instances not investigating the traffickers solely because the victim has given their consent, will result in the rise of this crime.
Various factors have been influential in the increase in human trafficking in the recent decades, and the fight against trafficking must deal with the eradication of the roots of this problem. The increase in sexual tourism, economic and cultural poverty, the profit from trafficking, the dominance of culture of violence, social discriminations, lack of identity documents, lack of security both at family and national levels, crisis in the values and morality systems, lack of suitable and practical laws in the fight against traffickers or even the Schengen system.
Due to its particular situation in a geographic location, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been dealing with human trafficking issues. According to researche conducted by the ODVV, each year a large number of women and children are trafficked to the Persian Gulf Arab countries and Pakistan. Also individuals are trafficked from Afghanistan and Pakistan for various jobs in Iran, and also Iran is a transit route of traffickers towards Europe and Persian Gulf countries.
The victims are mostly between 14 and 25 and from the economic and social aspects, in most instances, family disputes, parents’ addiction, divorce, poverty, unsuitable housing, residing in densely populated places, living on the margins of big cities, all cause the girls to leave the unstable family environment, or the fathers are forced to sell their daughters. Also from the education levels, since most of the victims are from the poor class and runaway girls, they are in the 15 to 17 year high school age range, and they suffer from economic poverty and weakness in belief.
In the fight against trafficking, the cooperation of all governments is necessary and it is apt that international, regional and even bilateral and multilateral documents are established between governments. The exchange of information on trafficking groups is one of these cooperations.
Also the victims must receive financial, mental, emotional and medical support and in the event of their committing of crimes, they must not be investigated and instead concentrate on their rehabilitation. After the return of the victims to their countries, support for them in the criminal justice process to identify and punish traffickers is very necessary. This can be achieved through a number of solutions. Determining a legal representative for the victim, anonymity for the victim. Preventing the revealing of the identity of the victim to the public and particularly the traffickers, because of the damage done to the victims, often criminal proceedings cannot be done effectively. Fear of revenge lack of financial means to appoint lawyers, lack of family support for the victims in the prosecution of the criminals, all justify the necessity for legislative and legal representatives to be appointed for the victim.
By: Negar Paidar