Human Trafficking and the International Criminal Court:
If you haven’t heard of Human Trafficking before, let me update you on a few things:
· “27 million - Number of people in modern-day slavery across the world
· 12.3 million - Number of adults and children in forced labor around the world
· 9.8 million –Number of these that are exploited by private agents for labor or commercial sex purposes.
· 800,000 – Number of people trafficked across international borders every year, as of 2007
· 2 million – Number of children exploited by the global commercial sex trade
· 1.2 million – Number of children trafficked globally in 2000
· 80% – Percent of transnational victims who are women and girls
· 50% – Percent of transnational victims who are minors
· At least 56% - Percent of trafficking victims globally who are women
· 127 countries of origin; 98 transit countries; 137 destination countries.”[i]
How about the official United Nation’s definition of Human Trafficking?
“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.”[ii]
Human Trafficking has been an international issue since the rise of the modern nation-states. Indeed, sexual slavery and forced labor has been on the rise at a disturbing rate.
Shocked yet? Well just wait for the punch line. But before that, allow me to explain what the “International Criminal Court” is:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the highest criminal court in the world. The ICC “was established as a court of last resort to prosecute the most heinous offenses in cases where national courts fail to act…to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”[iii]
The ICC was assembled to prosecute three specific types of people:
(b) Those who commit unspeakable crimes
(c) Those who commit crimes during wartime[iv]
The United Nations created the ICC to prosecute the most heinous of offenses to humanity. They have some quite harsh words in regards to Human Trafficking…
Universal Rhetoric Denounces Trafficking:
International rhetoric has continuously denounced Human Trafficking. In 2000, the United Nations began drafting the ‘Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.’ By October 2012, several crucial protocols had been sustained. These included:
· The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (adopted December 2003)”
· The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (adopted January 2004)
· The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking of Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (adopted July 2005).[v]
Harvard researcher Jane Kim states:
“Despite the developments in human trafficking law, awareness, and policy over the past decade, the International Criminal Court’s potential treatment of trafficking as a crime against humanity remains a question mark. While the Rome Statute’s reference to human trafficking may seem clear on its face, allegations of human trafficking have not yet been brought to the ICC, nor have they appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).”[vi]
Well here is the punch line:
Up to date, there has not been any legal action in the ICC against Human Trafficking.
Why is this so? If United Nation’s rhetoric zealously denounces Human Trafficking, and Nations agree that it is a dangerous practice, why has it not been publically addressed in the 10 year existence of the ICC?
Possibilities for Exclusion:
There are several important possibilities why the ICC has not yet introduced a Human Trafficking case to the international scene:
· First: Human Trafficking is not within ICC jurisdiction.
· Second: It is a domestic issue only. The best way to deter Human Trafficking is on the domestic level.
· Third: Profits from Human Trafficking might be benefiting several governments, which could encourage them to deter its prosecution.
· Fourth: Feasibility issues do not permit prosecution at this time
· Fifth: There is no need to do so.
Of these five, there is one of utmost importance to consider: Perhaps profits from Human Trafficking are benefiting governments such that they are actually discouraging international deterrence.
Research on this position is extremely hard. For one, there are few scholars that would want to publicly challenge dangerous people. Second, how could this be feasibly proven with certainty? Despite the challenges, one should pause and think about this issue whenever Human Trafficking is addressed in a public forum.
Perhaps these statistics are a perfect way to close. Is there a possibility of corruption? Let the reader decide:
“$32 billion – Total yearly profits, in U.S. dollars, generated by the human trafficking industry
$15.5 billion, half of the total, is made in industrialized countries.
$9.7 billion, one third of the total, is made in Asia.
$13,000 per year, on average, generated by each trafficked laborer. This comes to $1,100 per month.”[vii]
Perhaps we need to stop sweeping things under the carpet of useless UN Protocols. Words without action are opiates for the masses. They appease our sense of justice without achieving anything worthwhile.
[i] Polaris Project. Human Trafficking Statistics. 2010. National Human Trafficking Resource Center.www. PolarisProject.org.
[ii] United Nations Convention against transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/index.html
[iii] [iii]International Criminal Court. The Free Dictionary. Farlex. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/International+Criminal+Court
[iv] [iv]International Criminal Court. The Free Dictionary. Farlex. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/International+Criminal+Court
[v] United Nations Convention against transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/index.html
[vi] [vi] Kim, Jane. A.B. Harvard University. J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School, 2011.( Pg. 3-4) “Prosecuting Human Trafficking as a Crime against Humanity under the Rome Statute.”
[vii] Polaris Project. Human Trafficking Statistics. 2010. National Human Trafficking Resource Center.www. PolarisProject.org. http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/centers/humanrights/events/jcr%3Acontent/content/download_0/file.res/Human%20Trafficking%20Statistics.pdf