United Nations: Economic Crisis May Increase Human Trafficking
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 1:54 PM

The global economic crisis may augment the number of human trafficking victims worldwide, according to U.N. special investigator Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, a Nigerian human rights lawyer and professor. This correlation stems from the reality that the worsening economic situation aggravates the root causes of human trafficking: gender inequality, poverty, youth unemployment, and the global demand for cheap labor. Ezeilo told the U.N. General Assembly that “potential victims [of human trafficking] become more desperate to escape their unfavorable situations” (The Miami Herald) as the economy worsens.

Ezeilo also expressed concern that trafficking victims are often detained and deported, despite having “suffered severe trauma of a physical, sexual or psychological nature.” (The Miami Herald) Instead, Ezeilo argues, trafficked persons “require an enabling environment and the specialized services provided by trained personnel to trust, feel safe to talk about their victimization to, and assist law enforcement officials.” (The Miami Herald)

In the process of the investigation, only 24 of 86 countries reported that it is a governmental priority to identify children and adults trafficked for cheap labor and/or sexual exploitation and to provide sufficient measures to protect those persons. The investigation also revealed that only 30% of trafficking incidents both globally and intra-nationally are reported to officials.

This is particularly troubling because, according to Ezeilo, human trafficking is on the increase.

“Trafficking for purposes of labor exploitation is likely to escalate, particularly during the current global economic crisis and in the light of increasing poverty caused by massive unemployment and the tendencies of employers to use cheap labor in order to cut costs and maximize profits,” Ezeilo stated.(The Miami Herald)

Compiled from: Edith M. Lederer, The Miami Herald,Economic Crisis May Boost Human Trafficking.” (11 September 2009.)