ODVV Statements at 19th Session of the Human...
Item 3: Human Trafficking, Grave Violation of Human Rights
Today, the fight against human trafficking as one of the crimes against human dignity is the common denominator of most countries. The violation of human dignity by human traffickers and the close link of trafficking with other organized crimes such as money laundering, is one of the main reasons for the international community’s determination to fight this crime.
In spite of this the daily growth of this evil phenomenon has reached the income of human trafficking to 43 billion dollars a year, which puts this crime into third position after drugs and weapons respectively.
According to a UNODC report victims of trafficking are used for prostitution, begging, and hard and arduous work. The United Nations has confirmed the existence of 2.7 million cases of human trafficking, 56 percent of which are from Asia, 10 percent from Latin America, and 9 percent from the Middle East and North Africa. Over half of these people are taken to the United States of America.
161 countries have submitted reports on human trafficking and the slave trade to international organizations. The United States confirms that each year over 800 thousand people are trafficked into the country, over 70 percent of which are women and girls and are often put into prostitution.
Human trafficking is very obscure and it’s very difficult to study. This is why it’s the easiest crimes that is committed, and turned a blind eye against.
Governments admit that there are new and modern methods of human trafficking and their effects on the victims. There is an extensive agreement with regards to appropriate reaction towards this phenomenon, 143 countries have signed the Palermo Protocol and 128 countries have legislated laws that bans all forms of human trafficking.
Each year we witness gains made in the pursuit and bringing to justice of traffickers, victims identification, and taking protective and preventive measures. In spite of the ratification of various conventions and protocols such as the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its additional protocols; the Convention on the Rights of the Child additional protocol; and the campaigns of NGOs and international organizations, we continue to see the daily growth of this crime.
In its new procedure, the Human Rights Council while reiterating on the fight against slavery, deems human trafficking as an example of modern slavery, and notes on the need for an all sided fight against this growing phenomenon. Overall, the three main and interlinked principles of the prevention of human trafficking include: pursuit and prosecution of traffickers, and the protection of rescued victims, indicates the necessity for a very widespread coordination among states, local communities and international organizations for the fight against human trafficking.
As a nongovernmental human rights organization, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) who has conducted a number of activities on the subject of prevention and reduction of human trafficking, sees human trafficking as one of the faces of modern slavery and the blatant violation of human rights, and believes that the United Nations and Human Rights Council need to pay further attention to this evil phenomenon.
Iran and its long borders with 7 neighbouring countries, and economy in transition, are not immune to this phenomenon, although compared to other countries the statistics are not that notable. Even these low statistics however have sensitized the Iranian society and nongovernmental organizations. One of the problems which has caused difficulty for countries to set up practical and appropriate solutions is the lack of enough information on the causes in the hidden nature of human trafficking. For the purpose of reducing these problems, from 2002 the ODVV began a research and information dissemination activity on the subject and the only solution for fighting this phenomenon is government actions.
The responsibility of governments in the pursuit and prosecution of human traffickers and provision of justice cannot be done by just handing the task to nongovernmental organizations, and also give the responsibility of the protection of the victims to these organizations. Inclusive and structural needed measures for the prevention of human trafficking, must reflect cultural changes because of which modern slavery can get eliminated, the needs which facilitate the occurrence of this crime must be confronted, and acceptance of personal responsibility must be stressed. But at the top of these measures, must begin from the actions of governments and the international community.
The ODVV believes that the implementation of international laws on trafficking must not just be limited to legal measures, but programmes and policies must be devised and set for the reduction of trafficking in women and children that are comprehensive and inclusive, and stress must be made on the prevention of these crimes through multilateral measures. Also the allocation of funds for the purpose of capacity building of women and education of all of society and victims’ support for their reintegration into society are some of the effective measures that the United Nations can have a role towards the reduction of this phenomenon.
Item 9: Islamophobia
Following the 9/11 attacks, in a way an unfair, incorrect and nonsense interpretation spread throughout the world the negative repercussions of which sadly still remain over a decade on, and even growing. Attempts to associate “Islam” to “terrorism” which was amplified by some heads of state either intentionally or unintentionally, caused the rise of a phenomenon called “Islamophobia”; and although it existed before but now intentionally against a modern world that loved justice and was full of equality, patient and kind to the fellow man, the civlised western world that is, naturally took more negative tones, and the Muslim communities, particularly those living in the west felt heavier negative repercussions.
Islamophobia, does not just appear in the practices of individuals and societies. Sometimes the most important appearance of Islamophobia are I thoughts and hidden layers of individuals. The accepted definitions of Islamophobia have the following eight components:
1) Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2) Islam is seen as separate and 'other'. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3) Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
4) Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a 'clash of civilizations’.
5) Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage.
6) Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
7) Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
8) Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.
Unfortunately most of the examples of this definition presently exists in some European societies, which have the basis for the development and escalation of this phenomenon. Inappropriate election campaigns in a number of European communities (which in view of further election campaigns lying ahead in 2012, further escalation is expected) and also problems due to the global financial crisis, which placed the European economy in a severe crisis, have come together and extremist or far right groups took advantage and used the opportunity to put their inhuman intent in action to increase hate and animosity between religions and races. This factor is so clear that some experts believe that “there are new alliances in Europe against Muslims presence, and people who were against Judaism are now against the Muslim presence in Europe”.
The events of the recent years regarding Islamophobia indicates the deep roots of this phenomenon in some European societies. The approval of the referendum on the omission of minarets in Switzerland by other European communities is a claim. In fact it reflects the current unfurling of Islamophobia on the continent. The IFOP poll which recently took place in France didn't stop at the minaret question. It also revealed that a relative majority (41 percent) also opposed the construction of new mosques — a dramatic increase since 2001, when that number was 22 percent. Placed in the context of the state-launched debate on national identity, which sanctioned the unleashing of latent anti-immigrant — now synonymous with “anti-Arab — sentiment throughout the country, the trend inscribes itself in the bigger picture. A sea change has occurred in how Europeans view Islam in Europe and the result of such attitude which now European far-right parties are rejoicing to see their favorite campaign themes in the forefront of public discourse.
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) believes that a vast majority of the world’s communities have deep and rooted problems in how they approach foreigners, racial and religious minorities, and also the way followers of religions approach them. Despite the acceptance of the fact of the level of these injustices and a hope for improvement of the conditions through raising the awareness of societies and making transparent these wrong views and beliefs, we are still witness to the strong and rooted racist and Islamophobic movement in Europe, despite this continent’s claim to human rights matter, is a cause for deep regret.
While condemning the measures and treatments that take place at official and nonofficial levels against Muslims which have no conclusions but the escalation of baseless religious hatred, the ODVV once again as stated in the 17th Session of the Human Rights Council, we call for further importance be given to subjects such as dialogue among religions, and making transparent and clear ambiguities from some wrong impressions of Divine religions, and to give a joint mandate to the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion and Belief to find practical and sustainable solutions for overcoming this problem.
We hope that by accepting and starting of this initiative, a suitable atmosphere that is away from the common prejudices and narrow-mindedness, the followers of Divine religions can live in peace and tranquility, and respect each others’ beliefs.
 Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford professor and grandson of Hasan al-Bana, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, at a seminar in Istanbul Bilgi University.