Human trafficking has become one of the leading global crime statistics that governments of the world are grappling to contain.
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According to the United Nations Office on Drugs Control and Crime Prevention (UNODCCP, 1999), human trafficking can be described as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of threat, deceit, coercion, abduction, fraud for the purposes of exploitation or removal of organs.”
Human trafficking varies from one country to the other and from one part of the world to the other. The common denominator in all kinds of human trafficking is that it is illegal and exploitative to the victims.
Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon because it has been there since time in memorial and largely it was ignored by society. It did not view it as a problem. Every year, people of different ages and sex are trafficked around the world. It has become a very lucrative business only rivaled by drugs in terms of income.
Recent focus by international organizations and other pressure groups to highlight the extent of the problem concerning human rights is what has put the whole problem on the spot.
The actual definition of the problem is what has made the whole world wake up to the realization of what has been going on around them because it is so far not news. Human trafficking is simply a form of neo slavery and with it comes the problem of insecurity to all the countries involved.
Why it Happens
Human Trafficking can be traced as a practice of ancient times when individuals would conquer their fellow human beings, take them into captive, and force them to work for them as slaves under captivity. According to Sawadogo (2012), the spirit to conquer exists in all human beings. It stands out as the same spirit that leads human beings to compete over one another as a way of determining the best (p. 97).
The spirit of conquest can also be attributed to the natural allocation of resources and the evident urge to exploit them and/or have them. In ancient times as it is today, states and kingdoms would go to war with each other. In the end, the loser would be forced to pay allegiance to the winner. In most cases, men from the loosing states would be taken in as captives to work as slaves to the conquering masters.
In the present day world, the practice of human trafficking is a reflection of slavery and spirit to dominate one another. It has become more complicated because different incentives drive this practice thus giving it a hydra like face.
In ancient times up until the 19th century, slaves were taken mostly to provide labor in the farms but this has changed with the emergence of other factors that drive human trafficking and making it a lucrative venture. Just like any business, human trafficking is driven by demand and supply factors (Heather & Smith, 2012, 51-65). The demand in this case is higher than the supply thus making it very expensive to get a delivery.
Laws of different countries have made it very complicated and risky to traffic in human beings thus the traffickers have had to devise means that would enable them deliver on their side, which comes with a very high cost.
Ignorance on the part of persons being trafficked has also led to the business to thrive because the traffickers always target ignorant and gullible victims who can be convinced into the business or who can be coerced into the business. Most victims usually come from vulnerable backgrounds, which they try to run away from in the search for any promise of a good life that can easily make them buy into the idea (UNODCCP, 1999, p. 35).
Demand for cheap labor in Europe, America and Arab world has led to the coming up of both legal and illegal agencies that are ready to provide this cheap labor to these markets. The problem with these agencies is that they do not make full disclosures to the people they recruit thus they employ the use of deceit in getting these people into signing contracts that are supposedly legal yet illegal.
The rise of organ tourism has also escalated the human trafficking phenomenon by giving it a new head that has never existed before. This happens when people in society with medical complications like organ failure and who are in a position to buy or pay for replacement organs (Onuoha, 2011, p. 150).
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Vulnerable victims are always found out by the traffickers and transported to destinations where the harvesting procedures can be done successfully without the law enforcement interfering. The need to supply the sex industry with players can also be counted as one of the biggest drivers for human trafficking.
The emergence of a vibrant sex industry with clients who are ready to pay premium prices for sexual services has created a supply side to the industry, which has adopted the high-tech strategy.
Onuoha (2011) states that the evident need to supply players with services has seen women being abducted in some countries and transported to other countries to offer the service mostly in captivity despite the fact that the sex industry in some countries is legal and regulated (p. 155). The three mentioned sectors are the most notorious fuels for human trafficking on the global arena.
How Human Trafficking Happens
Human trafficking happens in many different ways some of which have been captured by the United Nations definitions while some ways have not yet been captured yet. This is because the development of the problem is highly dynamic since it keeps on changing every time as a way of evading the law and/or a way of keeping up with modern times dictates (Lal, 2005, p. 28).
In most cases, the demand for humans for specific purposes raises the need for trafficking. Where there is no demand, there is no need for supply. Human trafficking happens in many different ways; some ways have been documented while some ways have never been documented. However, this revelation does not take away the fact that it all remains an illegal activity.
Human trafficking can happen through coercion when individuals encounter abduction where they are transported against their will to other countries under threats that force them to comply with the traffickers. This situation is usually made possible by the fact that the traffickers are usually criminal groups that have a potential to do harm to the victims and to the family of the victims.
There are instances when victims and their families are killed for no cooperation thus forcing the victims to cooperate out of fear. This happens even when the victims know that what they are going to be subjected into will be inhuman.
Another form of coercion is when victims are captured, held and transported incommunicado (Lal, 2005, p. 28). Under these circumstances, the victims do not have an opportunity to interact with the outside world because they are either closely guarded by their traffickers or they are not enclosed in a place that cannot allow them an outside view.
Through Legal Means
Although trafficking is illegal, it sometimes happens via legal means where it is done in the eyes of authorities, but without their knowledge. Under this kind of trafficking, victims are transported from one country to the other using falsified documents. In this case, the persons being trafficked usually pay money for them to be moved from one place to the other.
Tverdova (2011) explains, “most victims under this arrangement usually come from strife torn countries where there is war and poverty thus try any means to move away from these countries” (p. 340).
The act and tactics used in this case are illegal thus qualifying their movement as human trafficking. In most instances under this arrangement, the fate of the victims usually lies with the traffickers who act as masters and can at times be brutal.
Adoption is one of the legal means that traffickers use to traffic their victims. Under this arrangement, traffickers use adoption agencies, which follow a due process to deliver children to people who need them. The clients in this case may not qualify to adopt the children under the law or may be interested in children with certain features, which the traffickers work hard to find and deliver.
The clients pay a lot of money to have the children delivered. However, since this procedure is not supervised, the fate of the delivered children cannot be ascertained (Tverdova, 2011, p. 343). Pedophiles and other vile characters use such underground means to have children delivered to them for sexual purposes.
Many women fall into the trap of getting married to rich foreign tourists who promise them heaven when they take them back to their mother countries. This is a big attraction to many poor women in third world countries who wish to run away from poverty back home thus get excited, get married to the tourist and then they relocate to the tourists home country (Willimas, 1999, p. 23).
Most of these women have ended up in high-end brothels as sex slaves without any form of escape route from captivity where are forced to work at times for a certain period as a way of buying their freedom.
The Situation between Africa and Europe
Human trafficking is a worldwide phenomenon that happens in both rich countries and poor countries. The concentration of people being trafficked can be traced to the poor impoverished states, war torn countries, and in countries where criminal activities are the highest in the world. Different countries are an attraction to traffickers for victims for different purposes.
Countries in Africa and Asia attract traffickers who look for laborers to work in different fields (UNODCCP, 1999, p. 148). Most women trafficked from Asian and African countries end up working as domestic workers in rich people’s homes but being paid nothing or being paid peanuts.
Women trafficked from Asia and American countries end up working as sex slaves in brothels in different parts of the world where they are perceived as an attraction.
Global statistics indicate that Asia is the biggest contributor to this problem with the largest number of victims coming from Asian countries. South East Asia alone contributes 225000 people being trafficked per year, South Asia 150000, Africa 50000, Eastern Europe 100000. These figures are very conservative. It is estimated that the problem on the ground has a much higher figure than what has been documented so far.
These figures when consolidated run into millions of people who are trafficked every year. Due to the wide definition that the activity takes, it has been difficult to determine which cases are trafficking and which ones are not until one delves deep to interrogate the persons travelling (UNODCCP, 2009, p. 158).
This is virtually impossible because it would require a lot of time and personnel to do that. It would require cooperation from possible victims. In most cases, only suspicious looking cases are subjected to this grilling. However, many more cases usually pass as genuine.
The situation of human trafficking between Africa and Europe is rife and tends to escalate with each passing year. War and poverty issues that have ravaged many African countries over the years have led to many people from these African countries try to find their way to Europe as the only way to escape the biting situation of war and poverty.
The allure of a good life too and the restrictive nature of getting European visa has made people from middle class join the band wagon, thus becoming statistical figures in the trafficking of human beings. Many African countries recording high numbers of people being trafficked are usually some of the poorest in the world with very low literacy levels. Most of the people being trafficked are usually ignorant of their rights.
In a situation where they know the situation, they usually waive it because they believe the process will give them a good life (Esohe, 2005, p. 15). The proximity to Europe and the fair conditions of life that people expect have made it the most popular destination in the world for human trafficking.
Many people who have been trafficked to Europe have ended up being successful in some instances to the extent of sending money back home. African countries close to Europe have been known as the biggest contributors to human trafficking through their own citizens or as conduits through which traffickers transport their victims.
People from far off countries have been known to travel to these countries as they await an opportunity to be transported to Europe. This though happens only in situations that employ illegal means. Other clandestine means as mentioned in the previous paragraphs are also used in this situation. It seems to grow day by day even with advancement in measures by recipient countries to stop this menace.
The countries that count as the most contributors of victims of trafficking to Europe are mostly Northern Africa countries and West African countries with women making up the biggest number in this. Countries like Mali, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, DRC Congo, Benin, Gabon, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco have been identified as the greatest source of human trafficking victims.
The target countries in this case are usually Spain, Italy, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Britain, and many other European countries that might be of interest to the traffickers and the victims. Human trafficking between Africa and Europe is not limited to the named countries and regions. It involves all countries in Africa and most countries in Europe.
Other countries in Africa provide a limited number of victims due to their distance to Europe and the mode of transport that can be employed. Many North African countries acting as a conduit like Morocco for instance is a few kilometers from Spain, thus making it easy for traffickers and victims to try their luck using boats.
Most of the victims trafficked end up in the streets of Europe living as illegal immigrants because they lack proper documentation (Elaine, 2002, p. 45). Recipient countries in Europe have developed measures that they use to combat this menace though every time the measures are put in place, the traffickers devise ways of circumventing them.
The biggest problem that human trafficking between Africa and Europe is causing is the problem of insecurity. The controlling of this trade by criminal gangs has made human trafficking a source of concern in terms of security because criminal gangs in themselves are a source of insecurity.
Why it is a Source of Insecurity
Security efforts have been put in place by European countries to stop the menace of human trafficking from Africa to Europe due to the large numbers of people being trafficked and as part of the countries responsibility towards the campaign to stop human trafficking.
Human trafficking has had negative side effects to the economies of European countries because it has led to a strain on these countries’ economies especially in the issue of unemployment.
African immigrants are a source of cheap labor to almost all fields of the economy because they are always ready to accept a much lower pay than the set market rates thus they become more attractive to employers when compared to the local population. This economic situation has escalated the rate of unemployment in many European countries with most of them recording higher rates than ever before.
Most persons brought in through trafficking usually use illegal and undocumented channels that do not leave the authorities with their personal information (Lal, 2005, p. 25). Whenever such people have been involved in a crime, it becomes difficult for the authorities to trace them thus the escalation of insecurity.
The victims’ masters have used many of them to peddle drugs and other illicit activities, thus making them a big threat to national security in the European countries to which they have moved. The greatest risk that they have recently posed is that of terrorism.
Terrorism as a global problem has been compounded by the use of changing tactics that have made it difficult to control. Therefore, the use of human trafficking as part of the tactics used has heightened the need of concerned countries to control this problem because most of the people trafficked can easily be drawn into any activity that would earn them a living.
Security Efforts Being Employed
European countries have come up with individual and collective efforts to control the problem of human trafficking because it happens to be a common problem shared between the European countries. Africans are the biggest statistic in this issue due to the proximity of the two continents to each other and due to the better quality of life that European nations offer.
European countries have as a first step tightened their border controls through immigration so that it is not easy for traffickers to use them by legal means to cause an illegality (Willimas, 1999, p. 45). Through this scheme, many European nations have set common standards that are used to admit persons from certain parts of the world as a way of controlling the people’s movement.
For instance, there are different categories of visa that are given to persons seeking to enter certain regions within Europe an example being the Schengen visa. With visa rules in place, it is easy to control the application of the same because one would be required to attend some sort of interview before getting.
Personal interviews with immigration officials help them decide which cases deserve for issuance with visa and which ones are not convincing. However, these visa rules can also be viewed as the reason why many people are trafficked to Europe. The tightening of visa issuance has made it difficult for many deserving cases to get a visa to Europe thus leading them to seek other means that will get them there.
Enhanced Border Patrols
European countries bordering Africa have enhanced border patrols by monitoring their borders physically and technologically so that illegal persons have no chance to enter non-designated border points. Elaine (2002) states that many human traffickers use porous border points to get into European countries by identifying areas where border security is minimum and using the identified areas to sneak the victims through (p. 43).
By increasing border patrols and increasing the number of officers manning them, the European countries have been able to minimize in a big way the number of immigrants being trafficked into and through their territories. Countries like Italy and Spain have had to double their efforts due to the high rate of immigrants coming in through undesignated border points.
Countries like Spain have adopted the use of community policing by empowering some of the people in the local population to do surveillance on behalf of government and even arrest suspicious immigrants who might be in the process of entering their territory illegally (Lal, 2005, p. 48). The proximity of Spain to Africa has made it one of the easiest targets by traffickers because it is just a few kilometers from Europe.
With this advantage, they can take a very short time to access it. Enhanced border patrols is not just on land only but also by sea. Many trafficking victims are usually transported dangerously by sea using boats that land on the coasts of European countries and release their human cargo there without authority.
This has force countries like Spain and Italy to enhance their sea border patrols as a way of deterring human traffickers from accessing their coastlines. All these security measures are replicated across Europe as a way of ensuring a collective responsibility to the problem.
Creation of Holding Centers
One of the most popular ways of controlling human trafficking is by creating holding centers that are used to hold victims before they are repatriated back to their countries. This ensures that victims and their masters are detained at a place that allows authorities to monitor them once arrested before the due process of sending them back to their countries is finalized.
European laws can be described as cumbersome especially in the issues to do with immigration and deportation of victims. In most European countries, persons found to be in the country illegally are usually left to live as their cases for deportation continues. This long process can be costly to taxpayers of these countries.
Thus, they have devised a way that allows them to hold these people as they prepare to send them back to their countries of origin. Holding centers enable European countries to take these victims off the streets thus ridding their streets of people who are not supposed to be there (Lal, 2005, p. 53).
Other than holding centers, there are also safe houses for rescued victims who are given an opportunity to either go back to their countries of origin or are simply given a new lease of life and accepted in the European society.
Holding centers are like prisons since they are a big discouragement to traffickers and victims who may not want to relive the story once released. On the other hand, holding centers do not give the trafficked victims an opportunity to get into the society they had aspired to join.
Signing of Treaties with African Countries
African countries being the biggest producers of victims of trafficking to Europe have been roped in to help fight the problem. To African countries, their citizens getting out to go and find a better life in Europe has not been a problem to them regardless of the process they use.
They therefore paid no mind to people leaving their coasts in whatever conditions because it never hurt them, as opposed to the European nations to which they were heading. Furthermore, moving to these countries guaranteed a source of foreign exchange when they get there and start sending money back home.
European countries found it easy to sign agreements with African countries to stop their own people from trying to enter Europe illegally, thus stopping the problem at the source.
This came with logistical support to the African nations so that they could do their own border patrols and stop traffickers from using their sea to transport victims to Europe. Countries like Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria are some of the countries benefitting from this arrangement.
Heather and Smith (2012), state, “This arrangement enables them to obtain equipment for patrol in the sea…to secure their territorial waters from invasion and exploitation by enemies” (p. 54).
Some African countries have signed treaties that would allow them receive and hold victims on behalf of the European countries as a way of bypassing some immigration rules and laws that would have granted the victims an opportunity to stay as their status is being examined.
Holding centers enable the European countries to profile the victims much better and use the same information to create structures that will prevent future trafficking efforts.
By Joining International Treaties
European countries and African countries have entered treaties at different levels that compel them to recognize human trafficking as an illegal act. Such treaties like the Protocol to prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking by the United Nations Organization. This treaty compels countries to adopt laws and measures that will ensure human trafficking is not tolerated.
Some of these treaties are a brainchild of European countries as a way of containing the menace of human trafficking to Europe from Africa (UNODCCP, 1999, p. 148). Europe suffers many ills that are a result of human trafficking from Africa thus it has to speared head efforts to solve the problem by coming up with solutions.
Solutions to such a problem are best achieved when all parties are involved in finding the solution and in executing the solution too. The European commission has enabled the formation of interregional networks to fight trafficking. These networks collaborate at a regional level to create awareness of the problem among the victim nations.
An aspect of human trafficking that usually comes up is the fact that many of the victims are ignorant of their rights and situations thus are easily gullible when they get into the hands of traffickers who take advantage of them to exploit them. Regional networks enable local communities to educate their populations on the problem and create awareness as a means of fighting the problem.
It enables the community to break the networks of traffickers by informing the authorities on the activities of traffickers (Willimas, 1999, p. 46). This is a sure way of solving the problem from the roots. Fighting the problem in Europe was becoming complicated because of many laws on human rights that would prevent the European nations from taking decisive action.
Cracking Down on Criminal Gangs
Mostly, criminal gangs that use all means to obtain their victims and deliver them to their intended destinations run human trafficking in Europe. Most of these gangs are intertwined in many criminal activities other than human trafficking and breaking them down is the best possible way of controlling human trafficking.
European countries have come up with joint efforts to fight criminal gangs that operate across borders thus forming a global network. The approach taken in this case has been through profiling of criminal gangs and their mode of operations and sharing of the same information with other countries (Tverdova, 2011, p.334). Criminal gangs take different operation modes while in different countries.
It is therefore necessary for individual countries to bring out information on them to a central place that can piece them together. Creation of databases and information sharing services by security agencies in Africa and Europe has enabled European and African countries to crackdown and breakup trafficking organizations within their jurisdictions.
Tverdova (2011) explains, “Sharing of information through such agencies like the Interpol has enabled different countries in Europe to trace down criminal gangs that are a threat to security and which are involved in human trafficking” (p. 336).
It has also enabled security services to trace clinics that are in the business of organ harvesting illegally as one of the fuels for human trafficking. Although it takes some time before these networks are broken down, any form of disruption is important because for a moment it stops the trafficking networks from carrying out their activities at the detriment of victims.
The Intergovernmental Approach
Another way that has been employed by Europe to stem the problem of human trafficking in Africa has been through an intergovernmental approach towards this problem.
Under this forum, head of governments for both European and African states come together and discuss the problem as the highest levels of governments head in their countries and from there they come up with resolutions that would soon be implemented in their respective countries (Sawadogo, 2012, p. 112).
Resolutions passed by head of governments are usually precursors to the government policies that might soon come or that are already in place. In the year 2006, an Inter-ministerial conference on migration and Development that took place in Tripoli Libya came up with recommendations that governments should adopt in combating the human trafficking problem.
The conference was one of the major breakthrough discussions concerning human trafficking and/or how bad it was for the security situation of different countries.
Developing a Continuous Research and Development
The best way to contain problems of human trafficking is through having an up to date information system that would enable the European countries keep tabs on the changes that happen in the world of trafficking.
This goal can be achieved through institutional frameworks in terms of research and development so that all the trends that come up can be identified at the earliest time possible and trends stopped form developing further. This involves an intense intelligence-gathering network that would be on the lookout for possible emerging trends that would be analyzed and solutions for them developed.
Research and development in this case would require an institute whose mandate would be to train law enforcement officers on emerging trends of human trafficking from Africa to Europe (Heath and Smith, 2012, p. 56). All matters touching on human trafficking are security matters because their origin and end violate the law.
Continuous research and development is a step that will always keep the security apparatus ahead of time because it will be used to compare trends in other parts of the world before they are adopted in this part of the world.
Trends tend to spread from one part of the world to the other depending on how smart they are, and putting together measures ahead of them can be a reasonable way of working towards solving a problem. In essence, security apparatus should be proactive when dealing with the issue of human traffic and security.
Security for Victims
Provision of security for rescued victims is a matter that still falls under the problem of human trafficking. Rescued victims are usually the best source of information because they are able to narrate their experience from which an insight to the situation can be derived.
Freeing victims and letting them take care of themselves is sometimes a mistake because the traffickers can still track them and hurt them or simply take them back into captivity. Many of the captors usually spend a lot of money on their operations. Thus, like any other investment, they expect a return to their investments.
Therefore, it is prudent to develop a victim’s protection program that would guarantee the rescued victims their safety. The security apparatus has the duty to provide security to rescued victims who in this case will be under the care of a specific European country. Onuoha (2011, p. 2011) points out how victims should be treated as victims and not as accomplices to the crime.
Thus, when they are being handled, the criminal tag should not be placed on them. Victims as a source of information should be taken through counseling after being rescued from traffickers. This protection and attention should be both in the short term and the long term so that trends can be established also on the side of the victims.
As a collective arrangement, security for victims should be across borders so that rescued victims can be taken to any safe house across Europe rather than where they have been found. Most traffickers are sophisticated criminal gangs with informers in almost all sectors of society. Therefore, keeping rescued persons in the countries where they had been held captive can easily expose them to negative repercussions.
Human trafficking is a phenomenon that has been with society for a very long time and that it may not end soon. The continuous need to supply persons to different destinations with or without their will is insatiable as the market keeps on growing day by day. The development of technology with internet coming up in the last two decades has made the world a global village where goods and services can be transacted online.
Although this case is a blessing, it also qualifies as a curse that cannot be taken away. Human trafficking has taken advantage of this technological phenomenon to up its game too and tap the use of internet. Though Europe has been working hard to stop human trafficking from Africa to its territories, the problem might never be stopped due to the ever-changing tactics that trafficker employ to beat the law.
Corruption has also contributed to the escalation of this problem because security apparatus are usually compromised to allow the trade to happen.
Although policy frameworks have been put in place by respective countries, laws especially the ones that touch on human rights have always been an impediment to decisive action being taken because human rights have now been made the most important by being applicable to perpetrators and victims.
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