Nepal | October 30, 2020

Traffickers profiting as pandemic makes crime harder to crack, UN warns

Reuters
Share Now:

LONDON: Human traffickers are capitalising on the coronavirus pandemic to target people ranging from jobless migrants to out-of-school children, two United Nations specialists said, warning that the fallout from COVID-19 had driven the crime further underground.

The global economic slowdown has left countless people jobless, desperate and at risk of exploitation, while victims of trafficking are less likely to be found or receive help with attention and resources diverted elsewhere, the experts said.

An estimated 25 million people worldwide are victims of labour and sex trafficking, according to the United Nations, with concerns growing that more will fall prey as support services are halted and efforts to secure justice are hindered.

“The difficulty is that trafficking is now even more underground and less visible,” said Siobhan Mullally, the recently-appointed UN special rapporteur on human trafficking.

“More people are at risk … especially in the informal economy … there are opportunities for traffickers to recruit, to exploit, to prey on people’s desperation,” Mullally told the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of Anti-Slavery Day on Oct. 18.

About 2.5 billion people – more than 60% of the world’s workforce – are informal workers, leaving them particularly at risk of being underpaid and abused, labour advocates have said.

From India to Cambodia, workers in sectors such as textiles and tourism have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19 and resorted to taking out loans that can lead to debt bondage or accepting work on worse terms and in exploitative conditions.

Many of the world’s estimated 164 million migrant workers are stranded abroad and unable to go home or unwilling to seek help due to closed borders and restrictive immigration policies, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers, according to Mullally.

“WORSENING HORRORS”

Two decades after the adoption of a landmark U.N. anti-trafficking protocol, Mullally said the issue was still seen mainly as a criminal justice matter, and called for a much broader focus encompassing labour rights and social protection.

“An economic crisis … and recession or even depression … may be used as an excuse to curtail workers’ rights, with the knock-on effect of a greater threat of trafficking,” she added.

Extreme poverty will rise for the first time this century, the World Bank said last week, predicting that the COVID-19 fallout could spawn 115 million “new poor” this year alone.

Ilias Chatzis, head of the trafficking unit at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said his department was still gathering information about the impact of coronavirus on the crime but warned that early evidence showed “worsening horrors”.

He cited the example of children spending more time online and being vulnerable to sexual exploitation – remotely – by global predators. Europol said in May that online child sex abuse in the European Union spiked at the start of the pandemic.

While acknowledging the “complexity” of tackling trafficking during COVID-19, Chatzis sounded a note of hope for the future.

“It’s not all darkness ahead, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We abolished (chattel) slavery, we can abolish trafficking.”


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Bandipur: Ideal destination to explore natural beauty, cultural heritage

KATHMANDU: Had Covid-19 not been prevalent, people from around the world would have visited Bandipur, also known as 'Queen of Hills' in Tanahun district, during the 'Visit Nepal 2020' campaign. Nestled in the foothills, Bandipur is one of the oldest settlements of ethic Newari community. Tour Read More...

Nepal's Covid-19 tally reaches 164,718 with 2,364 new cases on Thursday

KATHMANDU: Nepal on Thursday reported 2,364 new cases of coronavirus infection from across the country. With this, the nationwide infection count has advanced to 164,718. Of the total infections, 984 are females and 1,380 are males. In the last 24 hours, 1,338 cases surfaced in Kathmandu distr Read More...

Four hurt as clash ensues between onion smugglers, police in Bara

BARA: Four persons were injured in a clash between police personnel and onion smugglers in Suvarna Rural Municipality-2 of Bara district on Wednesday night. The injured teenager has been identified as Rajan Yadav (14) of Kawahigoth in Suvarna-2. Three others injured in the clash include a Sub Ins Read More...

Nepal Police HQ directs cyber bureau to take action against rapper VTEN

KATHMANDU: 23-year-old rapper VTEN has made it into the headlines yet again with the police looking to detain him. The Nepal Police Headquarters has directed the Cyber Bureau to expedite action against Samir Ghising VTEN, for alleged usage of 'indecent language' in the latter's recent video. T Read More...

In Nepal's capital, sole crematorium for COVID victims becomes busier

KATHMANDU: As the number of coronavirus deaths climbs in Nepal, workers at the only crematorium in Kathmandu designated to handle the victims have been working past midnight, their meagre wages supplemented by less than 50 US cents for each corpse. Elsewhere in a country that ranks among the Read More...

Leipzig face major Bundesliga test after European mauling

BERLIN: RB Leipzig's unbeaten run in the Bundesliga this season will be put to the test when they travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, three days after their European mauling at the hands of Manchester United. Leipzig, top of the table in the Bundesliga, suffered their worst-ever loss Read More...

Lampard to discuss penalty duties after Jorginho miss

LONDON: Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will speak with his players before deciding whether Jorginho remains the club's penalty taker after the Italian missed his second spot kick of the season in their 4-0 win over Russian side Krasnodar in the Champions League. Jorginho, who missed from the spot Read More...

Woman's suicide prompts Indian state to mull LGBT+ conversion therapy ban

KOCHI: When Aswathi told her parents she was a lesbian, they took her to a nun and then to a doctor who wanted to run hormone tests to make her straight - one of thousands of LGBT+ Indians subjected to conversion therapies that are now facing a possible ban. Aswathi's mother cried that her 22-yea Read More...