The Menace of Human Trafficking A Discussion
Human trafficking is a menace which is continuing to inflict wounds on the morality and ethics of the human society in a thorough manner. It is a crime committed on a global basis. Though a crime of a very serious nature, both national and international responses to curb the crime have been shown to be suffering from severe deficiencies. The scope and opportunities of human trafficking have increased manifold and it is high time that both national and international efforts become stringent enough to bring down the crime rate. But for doing so some specific strategies have to be developed, and such strategies must be based on several different perspectives, including the perspective of criminal justice, the military perspective, and economic perspectives.
Trafficking in persons has been defined 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” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2017). Hence, it can be seen that human trafficking is a crime which is based on certain elements, viz. acts, means, and purpose. To identify a crime as the crime of human trafficking, the criminal justice system must prove the act first. The act of human trafficking may consist of recruitment, transportation, transference, harbouring, receiving, giving or receiving benefits, or controlling human subjects (“The Three Elements of Human Trafficking”, 2014). Then to add to the justification of identifying the crime as the crime of human trafficking, the criminal justice system has to prove the means which may include the use of violence, threat of violence, use of coercion, abduction, fraudulence, deception, abuse of power or using the advantage of a position of vulnerability (“The Three Elements of Human Trafficking”, 2014). Finally, to prove an act to be the crime of human trafficking, the criminal justice system has to prove the purpose which may include the purpose of sexual exploitation, the purpose of forced labour, enslavement, servitude, the purpose of removing human organs, or the purpose of forcefully employing the human subject for the purpose of labor or any other service (“The Three Elements of Human Trafficking”, 2014).
Human trafficking has evolved as a serious global crime. In 2012, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that at least 20.9 million people around the world were imprisoned in the system of forced labour, and out of those 20.9 million people, 9.1 million had actually been trafficked (End Exploitation: National Action Plan, 2014). The ILO, in 2012, reported that more than half of such victims of trafficking were concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region (End Exploitation: National Action Plan, 2014). Considering human trafficking as a global and serious crime many nations have established policies to combat the crime and to alleviate the degree of its occurrence and spread. Australia is among those nations that have strived to respond fruitfully to the crises triggered by the crime of human trafficking. From an international perspective, Australian government has ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) along with its Trafficking Protocol (Australian Government: Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.). The nation has been actively engaged in the war against human trafficking for long, and in this respect it has shown responsibility in collaborating with other nations in combating the heinous crime (Australian Government: Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.). Since the transformation of the crime into a grave one, Australia has been participating in different international forums, including UN Commissions on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the UNTOC Conference of Parties (Australian Government: Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.), and all such participations have been to contribute to the development of international and regional policies for combating the crime of human trafficking. From the regional perspective, Australia’s efforts have been remarkable in combating the crime of human trafficking. In this respect it must be noted that, the country co-chairs the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime with Indonesia, and in the Asia region, Australia has provided aid projects to fund policies of combating human trafficking (Australian Government: Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.). Moreover, the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons has been considered as one of the important efforts of combating the crime of human trafficking (Australian Government: Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.). Also, in respect of the domestic policy of combating the crime of human trafficking, Australian government has established Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19, and the policy has provided the government with the strategic framework that is needed to effectively response to the problem of human trafficking and slavery within the nation (Australian Government: Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.). But despite all such efforts there are some deficiencies from which the Australian government suffer in terms of combating the menace of human trafficking. The primary deficiency in combating human trafficking in Australia is of economic nature. It has been observed that in Australia the compensatory policies for the victims of human trafficking are not adequate enough to combat the crime (Anti-Slavery Australia, 2016). It must be noted that in Australia, “there are currently eight different statutory/territory victims’ compensation schemes and each have different considerations of categories of harm, relevant time limits, and levels of award applicable” (Anti-Slavery Australia, 2016). Such disparities have actually contradicted the efforts rendered by the Australian government to combat human trafficking. Lack of parity in compensatory policies has triggered lack of faith of the victims of trafficking on the Australian government and this in turn has enhanced the scopes of traffickers to victimize more and more individuals. To overcome this deficiency the Australian government must ensure that the state/territory compensatory policies show parity with each other. Moreover, from the economic perspective, the Australian government must ensure that state and territory compensation schemes are consistent with Commonwealth offences of forced labour and other crimes like forced marriage, debt bondage, etc. (Anti-Slavery Australia, 2016). Also, to overcome the deficiency the Australian government should ensure that the compensatory policies for the victims of human trafficking are at parity with the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act. 32 (Anti-Slavery Australia, 2016). Such parity can alleviate the degree of economic deficiency related to the process of compensating the victims of human trafficking in Australia. Moreover, such parity can help the Australian government is improving its efforts of combating human trafficking as a whole.
But though Australia has shown deficiency from the economic perspective in terms of combating human trafficking, the international response to the same problem has shown deficiencies in terms of criminal justice and military perspectives. Efforts of the United Nations to combat human trafficking globally from the legal perspective have not been free from deficiencies. In this respect it must be noted that the present international laws, backed by the UN and other international legal bodies, are not at all sufficient, structurally, to combat modern slavery triggered by human trafficking (CdeBaca, 2011). One must take into account the fact that, “If having reporting mechanisms, interministerial meetings, and occasional testimony before a U.N. body were enough, the last sixty years would have seen a burst of freedom, rather than trafficking becoming termed one of the fastest growing transnational crime” (CdeBaca, 2011). This particular deficiency from the criminal justice perspective (including the legal perspective) must be addressed particularly through the implementation of stringent international laws and mandates that could be applied universally on every nation in the course of combating human trafficking. It has been observed that still now lack of cooperation among nations in terms of application of international anti-trafficking laws is hindering the global effort of combating the crime fruitfully. And until and unless such non-cooperation is turned into global cooperation, the problem from the criminal justice perspective in combating human trafficking will continue. Hence, it is not only reporting mechanism but mandatory laws that are necessary as international efforts to combat human trafficking globally. Furthermore, from the military perspective, the efforts and response of international organizations like the UN should be termed to be infested with deficiencies. The UN Peacekeepers have failed to combat the crime of human trafficking and sex trafficking in many parts of the world, and quite unfortunately such failure has been attributed to unethical practices practiced by many of the Peacekeepers. In this respect it must be noted that in 2011hundreds of Haitians protested against peacekeepers from Uruguay on a United Nations base because many of them were involved in sexually assaulting women (MacFarquhar, 2011). Also, the truth that the UN’s military efforts of combating human and sex trafficking has not been a thorough success is evident from the fact that since 2011 the UN has “focused serious attention on addressing sexual crimes among the more than 120,000 personnel I has deployed in 16 peacekeeping missions globally, including widespread training” (MacFarquhar, 2011). Hence, it can be seen that to transform international military efforts of combating human trafficking into success, more ethical training should be provided to the personnel serving the military wing of the UN. Moreover, lack of cooperation between international military efforts and national military efforts has also contributed to the failure of international response to the crime of human trafficking. In 2011, for instance, when the international military efforts were rendered to alleviate the degree of human trafficking on a global basis, the military regime of Burma failed to cooperate, and this resulted in Burma’s utter failure in curbing human trafficking (Radio Free Asia, 2011). It was due to such lack of cooperation that international military efforts failed to stop forced labour and unlawful military conscription of children in Burma throughout 2011 (Radio Free Asia, 2011). Hence, it must be said that to make international military responses a success, international bodies and national governments should ensure that there is cooperation between international and national military forces in terms of combating the menace of human trafficking.
In conclusion, the scope and opportunities of human trafficking have increased manifold and it is high time that both national and international efforts become stringent enough to bring down the crime rate. But for doing so some specific strategies have to be developed, and such strategies must be based on several different perspectives, including the perspective of criminal justice, the military perspective, and economic perspectives.
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CdeBaca, L. (2011). Successes and Failures in International Human Trafficking Law. Michigan Journal of International Law, 33(1), 37-51. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from
End Exploitation: National Action Plan (2014). National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19. An Australian Government Initiative. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from
MacFarquhar, N. (2011). Peacekeepers’ Sex Scandals Linger, On Screen and Off. The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from
Radio Free Asia (2011). Lack of Enforcement Fuels Trafficking. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from
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