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sabato 3 gennaio 2015

The Globalization of Human Trade and Modern Day Slavery

The pressure of unprecedented globalisation has meant that human trafficking and modern day slavery are inescapable realities of our political system. Commodification of the human body and global inequality produce the environment for human trade.


From Pope Francis declaring human trafficking as a “crime against humanity” to forced labour in Thailand’s seafood industry, the issue of human trafficking has been contemplated in 2014 in a way that it has not been before. Contemplation, however, does not effectively tackle the unfavourable issue of human trafficking; neither does it halt the growing vulnerability of migrants in a period of brisk economic change. 
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has outlined the present situation of human trafficking. The report discusses countless statistics, analysing human trafficking in a way that sheds light on its distinctive forms and typical features. Perhaps its most informative contribution is how it breaks down the issue, which helps to disclose why it is arduous and tricky to fix. 
Modern-day slavery takes the form of complex and well-organised trafficking flows, sustained by large and efficient criminal groups. 
Being entirely transnational in nature, it is crucial to note that no country is exempt from modern day slavery. 
Whether as a transit, destination or origin country, the report frames the statistics for 2014, and reveals that the problem remains as universal as ever.
The report does however have certain limitations, which makes it difficult to properly sum up the action taken to combat the problem of human trafficking in the past year. Strikingly, the report uses information largely taken from the years 2011 to 2012, despite attempting to provide an overview for a much more recent time period. Furthermore, its main source of information is statistical criminal justice data reported to the UNODC by member states. Complementing this are cases of trafficking in persons recently prosecuted. As member states are liable to use discretion when providing evidence, the information in the report is limited by its very nature. These factors coupled together entail that the report is not sufficient as a summary of human trafficking in 2014, and thus it is the task of the new year to bring with it action toward a revised and updated narrative on the progress of human trafficking and modern day slavery.
Taking its drawbacks into account, UNODC’s report does point towards the main areas of human trafficking which are likely to remain imperative when tackling this issue in 2015 .
One is the problem of impunity. Already out-dated evidence shows that over the previous ten years from the point when the report was conceived there was no discernible increase in convictions as a result of human trafficking. Moreover, 10 per cent of countries recorded few or no convictions. This does not however signify that the trafficking in persons has decreased; rather it reflects the difficulties of the criminal justice system in responding to what is highly organised and thus intricate crime. If anything the phenomenon of human trafficking is set to become more, not less, evident yet difficult to record.
Globalisation has both created more influential ‘pull’ factors as the disparity between rich and poor nations becomes increasingly visible. It has also instigated increased mobility which has the effect of improving transportation: making the mobility of people both faster and cheaper. Both these developments mean that in 2015, increased awareness and more flexible criminal justice systems must be implemented, in order to allow those to be prosecuted for the crimes that they have committed.
As well as a more recent investigation into the statistics surrounding human trafficking, this report must remain impartial and not subject to political influence. The US Tier System is an example of how politics must remain separate from tackling the issue of human trafficking in persons. The controversial upgrading of China from Tier 3 is an example of the significant influence international relations can wield in information gathered in reports such as this one. China continues to fail on three core areas of protection, prevention and prosecution. Yet as an upcoming major power, China seems to be given a certain degree of special treatment. The New Year must see increased investigation on the statistical evidence of human trafficking in persons, yet it is crucial that such evidence remains impartial and not influenced by the international relations and political perspectives of certain nations.
Finally, human trafficking as a political reality will feel the ramifications of the on-going debate surrounding the decriminalization of prostitution. The increasing popularity of the ‘Swedish Model’ has seen a backlash where proponents of sex workers’ rights insist that only the decriminalization of prostitution will mean that sex workers can enjoy better and safer conditions. Whatever the outcome, the human trafficking industry, which sees much of its action in the area of sexual exploitation, will be affected by the result of this dispute. Will the actions taken in Sweden entail that human trafficking is driven away by increased prosecution, and act as an effective measure in ensuring that cases that surround human trafficking are brought to justice? Or will decriminalization, as practised in New Zealand, allow for more resources to be devoted to those exploited? Only time will tell.

La tratta degli esseri umani, una piaga mondiale Andrea Viscardi 

Five days after his kidnapping, the body of 6-year-old Harun-ur-Rashid was discovered dumped in wetlands near Sirajganj, north of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. The child’s kidneys were cut out — a victim of the country’s black market organ trade.
One arrested suspect told police Harun was drugged before being taken under a bridge where three waiting men had arrived from Dhaka. The suspect said a surgeon performed the operation on the spot, according to local media reports.
The people of Tebaria live in the crushing poverty of rural Bangladesh and in fear of local banditry. Some described lawlessness — accentuated by ineffective and corrupt local authorities — and said 15 local children were killed the same way as Harun in the past year. Dhaka's police department did not respond to a request for comment.
“It’s a very dangerous situation here, and we can’t trust the people who do these crimes will face justice. Nothing will happen to the kidnappers,” said Kulshed Alom, a member of a local community watch program.
Three local men were arrested for the kidnapping, but there remained no news on any search for the Dhaka syndicate members. As a laborer unable to afford a lawyer and the time away from work, Hannan said he had couldn’t pursue a criminal case and was certain his son’s killers would not face justice.
The Bangladeshi judiciary is rife with nepotism and embezzlement and lacks independence, according to U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, a Norwegian research body. This has allowed the black market trade in human organs to flourish, according to Monir Moniruzzaman, an anthropology professor at Michigan State University who has spent the past 12 years researching the trade’s commodification and exploitation of poor Bangladeshis.
In addition to people being kidnapped and their organs stolen, some willingly sell their organs on the black market through local brokers who contact regional and national syndicates to facilitate medical procedures and find buyers for kidneys and livers. Desperation, combined with a lack of law enforcement, enables brokers to entice impoverished Bangladeshis with offers of easy money. 
“If there was genuine concern on the government’s part we would see some action, but we haven’t seen anything,” Moniruzzaman said. “The law is not being enforced, and on the criminal justice side there are reports of cases being deliberately weakened.”
In August 2011 revelations emerged of a trafficking ring based in Joypurhat district, near the Indian border. Police arrested local brokers and extended investigations to the Dhaka-based syndicates. It was revealed that more than 50 people in neighboring villages had sold kidneys or parts of their livers. While the cases brought attention to the trade, only local brokers were arrested. Promised legislative reforms and police cases stalled. Under the Organ Transplant Act, passed in 1999, violators can face sentences of three to seven years in prison and fines of 300,000 taka (about $3,850).
“The police did a great job to expose these brokers in Bangladesh and their extended networks in India,” Moniruzzaman said. “But these brokers were released on parole and are now back in their areas and selling organs just like before. There is no repercussion for them, which indicates brokers are most likely paying money [to police or government authorities] so they can continue to run their businesses.”
Bangladeshi police did not respond to multiple requests to respond to accusations of corruption and complicity in the trade.
To villagers, it seems obvious where the power lies.
If police are taking action, how can people still be going to sell organs?” asked Selina Akthar, a resident of Varondy village, who was named as a seller in the police investigation. Along with her husband and father-in-law, she sold a kidney in 2011. “The brokers give money to the police so there is no case against them, and police know when donors get back, and they go to their homes to take money from them.”
Invariably those selling their organs face economic hardship. Some approach local brokers after hearing stories of easy money, and others are targeted by brokers aware of excessive debts. Often surgery is undertaken without any knowledge of the long-term health implications.
“I thought they would take my kidney, but they said they wanted to take part of my liver,” said Mehdi Hassan, a farmer from Bamongram village who underwent the operation in 2009. “I didn’t know what a liver was, but was told my health would be restored after three years. Now I have a weight in my body, it’s difficult to breathe, and I can’t walk for a long time.”
Mohamad Akhtar Alom, also from Varondy, stayed in a Dhaka hospital for two weeks after selling his kidney. He told his family he was going to work pulling rickshaws and was sent home by bus with less than half the money promised him.
“I was crying and helpless,” he said. “I became very sick, but I knew nothing about it. I couldn’t carry 5 kilograms or walk fast. There was pain in one side of my body, and I had blurred vision.”
Sellers of organs typically reported receiving far less money than promised but lack any means to recover their losses. The criminal nature of the activity prevents any legal recourse.
Dr. Luc Noel, a special adviser on medical products of human origin to the World Health Organization, said commodification of the human body and global inequality produce the environment for such a trade to exist.
Profit on the human body means exposure to the poorest layer of the population, and on the global level this collides with inequality and the incapacity of some governments to regulate,” he said.

Bangladesh organ trade continues unabated, targeting children, the poor December 26, 2014


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