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Statement at the Global Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons General Assembly High Level Meeting

Global Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons

General Assembly High Level Meeting

New York, 23 November 2021

 

Statement delivered by H.E. Mr. Jörundur Valtýsson

Permanent Representative of Iceland

 

 

Mr. Chair,

 

Today’s meeting marks a critical milestone in the global fight against trafficking in persons.

 

Trafficking in persons, including forced labor and slavery, is a serious form of organized crime, a grave violation of human rights and a challenge to sustainable development. Most victims are women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation, and in Europe one in four victims are children.

 

Regrettably, while some progress has been made, more needs to be done to prevent trafficking, address root causes, and end impunity.

 

Mr. Chair,

 

Iceland is strongly committed to play its part in tackling all forms of trafficking and organized crime. We have taken several concrete measures to that effect, including:

 

  • a National Action Plan that includes revisions to current legislation, regulations, and administrative directives that are aimed at identifying victims and survivors;

     

  • enhanced attention to protection and assistance to trafficking victims and survivors, with a National Referral Mechanism coordinating responses to suspected human trafficking; and,

     

  • amendments to the General Penal Code provision on human trafficking to further increase protection of victims and survivors and make prosecution easier.

 

There has also been a strong emphasis on prevention focusing on awareness raising, to help identify victims including among police and public prosecutors - working in close cooperation with civil-society.

 

Finally, Mr. Chair, while national measures are essential, it remains that human trafficking is a global problem that requires a global response.

 

This is particularly true now, in the context of the current pandemic, where we are seeing how enhanced vulnerabilities, isolation and restricted access to assistance is increasing the risk of exploitation.

 

It is therefore deeply concerning to witness the recent large-scale instrumentalization of migrants for political purposes. Such behavior and activities risk people’s lives and health and must cease immediately.

 

All member states must honor their obligations and our political declaration underlines the importance of coherent international cooperation and response in the global fight against trafficking.

 

I thank you.

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