Although it is difficult to quantify the magnitude of trafficking in persons worldwide, it is believed that around 800,000 persons are subjected to trafficking across international borders, while many others suffer similar situations within their own country. South America is considered a region of origin, transit and destination point for Trafficking in Persons. Every country in the region is severely affected. This crime is mainly committed for purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. While numbers of estimated victims of trafficking worldwide vary, they are reported as being in the millions and most importantly, they are constantly on the rise. Moreover, estimates often do not include individuals who are victims within the borders of their own countries.
Organized criminal groups are earning billions of dollars in profits from trafficking and exploiting people-many of whom are victims of severe human rights violations.Trafficked persons are often victims to abuse such as rape, torture, debt bondage, unlawful confinement and threats against their family or other persons close to them, as well as other forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence. The demand for cheap labour, sexual services and certain criminal activities are among the root causes of trafficking while a lack of opportunity, resources and social standing are other contributing factors.
At IOM, we operate from the outset that trafficking in persons needs to be approached within the overall context of managing migration. Our broad range of activities is implemented in partnership with governmental institutions, NGOs and international organizations. The approach is based on three principles that govern all our counter-trafficking activities:
- Respect for human rights
- Physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community
- Sustainability through institutional capacity building of governments and civil society
Since 1994, IOM has directly assisted approximately 70 000 victims of trafficking in persons. Our primary aims are to prevent trafficking in persons and to protect victims from the trade while offering them options of safe and sustainable reintegration and/or return to their home countries.
"Trafficking in persons" shall mean 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."
(Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime).