Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of involuntary labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud or coercion. tion
CAIRO -30 September 2020: Human trafficking is an organized crime against humanity, the victims of which are in the millions. Unfortunately, it is difficult to track down or arrest the perpetrators, who gain profits that come third after those of the arms and drug trade.
The phenomenon has become global, as the number of victims worldwide has reached about 40 million people, and the volume of its profitable trade is estimated at$152- $228 billion, according to international estimates.
Egypt has beencombating the crime of human trafficking by adopting a national strategy and laws that tighten penalties against its perpetrators. The Egyptian efforts in this regard have won international praise.
In the following lines, Egypt Today reviews the meaning of human trafficking, the Egyptian laws and the national strategy adopted to combat that crime, and waysto coordinate withother countries to combat human trafficking.
What is human trafficking?
The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood describes human trafficking in Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, as follows:
The term "trafficking in persons" means the recruitment, transfer, or harboring of persons using threats of force, kidnapping, fraud, deception, abuse of power, exploitation of a state of vulnerability, or by giving or receiving sums of money.
Recruiting, transporting, or harboring a child for exploitation is considered “human trafficking,” even if it does not involve the use of any of the aforementioned means.
What are the forms of human trafficking?
Sexual exploitation:It means the use of a person, male or female, to satisfy the desires of others in any way. This includes any act of rape and indecent assault, any other crime of honor, or any act that violates public morals for exploitation in the production of drawings, pictures, films or other pornographic materials.
Forced labor: Assignment to work without pay, and this includes depriving a person of his essential rights such as wages, appropriate working conditions, and maximum working hours, in exchange for the work theyperform.
Compulsory service: Any work or service that is extracted from any person against theirwill, using force, threat, or any other means of coercion, and the person concerned has not volunteered theirworkthat may be performed with or without pay.
Slavery:It means the introduction of a person into slavery by exercising any of the powers arising from the right to property, including the exercise of these powers for trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
Practices similar to slavery: Examples of such practices are forced or compulsory labor, including the forced or compulsory recruitment of children in armed conflicts as well as forced marriage or any of the practices that allow a person to be subject to another person's disposal.
Servitude: It means subjecting the individual to hard conditions of work, performing the service by force and not having the ability to get rid of or change the conditions of work.
Human organ resection: It is the removal of organs or tissues from the body of an alive or dead person, to sell or implant them in the body of another person.
Punishment for human trafficking
Law No. (64) of 2010 regarding combating human trafficking stipulates that:
Article (5): Any individual who commits the crime of human trafficking shall be punished with temporary severe labor and a fine of not less than LE 50,000 and not more than LE 200,000.
An individual who commits the crime of human trafficking is punished with life imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 100,000 and not more thanLE 500,000 in the following cases:
If the perpetrator establishes, organizes, or managesan organized criminal group for human trafficking, or assumes leadership in it,is one of its members or affiliated with it, and if the crime is transnational.
In casethe individual commits theact by threatening with death, or grievous harm, or through physical or psychological torture.
In casethe perpetrator is the spouse of the victim, one of theirrelatives, someone who has guardianship over them,is responsible for theirobservation or upbringing, or someone who has authority over them.
In casethe perpetrator is a public official or assigned to public service and committed his crime by exploiting the position.
In casethe crime results in the victim's death, permanent disability, or illness withno hope of recovery.
If the victim is a child, incapacitated, or handicapped.
In case the crime is committed by an organized criminal group.
Article (7): Anyone who uses force or threat to compel the other party to commit misleading statements is punished with detention.
Article (8): Anyone who conceals one of the perpetrators, objects, or funds obtained from one of the crimes stipulated in this law, or conceals any of the features or tools of the crime, while being aware of that, is punishedwith imprisonment.
Article (12): A penalty of imprisonment for a period of no less than 6months and a fine of not less than LE 10,000 and not more thanLE 20,000, or one of these two penalties shall be imposed on anyone who knows that any of the crimes stipulated in this law have been committed and has not notified the competent authorities there of.
If the perpetrator is a public servant and the crime is committed in violation of his official duties, the maximum penalty is five years.
Article (16): Subject to the provisions of Article (4) of the Penal Code.The provisions of this article shall apply to all Egyptians who committ the crime of human trafficking outside Egypt (stipulated in Articles 5 and 6,) where the offender is punished in the country where the crime occurred in any of the following cases:
In casethe crime is committed on board a means of air, land, or water transport and it was registered in Egypt.
In case one or more ofthe victimsis an Egyptian.
In case the crime was prepared, planned, directed, supervised, or financed in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
In casethe crime is committed by an organized criminal group that engages in criminal activities in more than one country, including the Arab Republic of Egypt.
In casethe crime is likely to harm any of the citizens or residents of the Arab Republic of Egypt, its security, or any of its interests at home or abroad.
In casethe perpetrator of the crime is found in the Arab Republic of Egypt, after committing it, and has not been extradited.
Article (17): In the cases stipulated in the previous article, the competence to initiate inference, investigation, and trial procedures extends to the competent Egyptian authorities.
International judicial cooperation
Egyptian Law #64 of 2010 states in Article (18) that:
The Egyptian judicial and police authorities shall cooperate with similar foreign bodies concerning combating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes. This includesexchanging information; conducting investigations, assistance, and judicial assignments; extraditing criminals and items; recovering money; referring convicts; and other forms of judicial and police cooperation.
This comes within the framework of the rules specified by the bilateral or multilateral agreements in force in Egypt, or according to the principle of reciprocity.
Law to combat illegal immigration
The Egyptian state did not only ratify a law criminalizing human trafficking, but it also approved Law No. 82 of 2016 regarding combating illegal immigration, which stipulates the perpetrator is punished with life imprisonment and a fine of no less than LE 200,000 if the crime is committed by an organized criminal group or for a terrorist purpose that results from it, and in case of the death or permanent disability of the migrant.
Also, this penalty applies if the perpetrator usesforce, violence, weapons, or drugs;if there were women or children among the migrants; or if the perpetrator seizes, or destroystravel documents or the identity of the migrant.
The law also stipulates the penalty shall be temporary hard labor and a fine of not less than LE 200,000 and notmore thanLE 500,000 if the perpetrator establishes, organizes, or manages an organized criminal groupfor smuggling migrants;takes command in it;is one of its members or affiliates with it;if the perpetrator carries a weapon, or is considered a threat to the lives of those being smuggled out.
National Strategy for Combating Human Trafficking
The National Coordinating Committee to Combat Illegal Migration and Human Trafficking developed a strategy to combat human trafficking from 2016 to 2021, based on concertingnational efforts ofthe state and its institutions to curb this crime, and the strategy includes three axes:
The first measures prevention and awareness of Law No. 64 of 2010 on preventing human trafficking, the second is protection and punishment, and the third is cooperation with international bodies to reduce this crime.
The Ministry of Justice also implements the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Illegal Immigration, through six axes, foremost of which is the establishment of a fund for the psychological and financial rehabilitation of victims;addressing the root causes of illegal immigration; enacting legislation and laws regulating these crimes and controlling them; training workers in the field of human rights and combating human trafficking including judges and employees on how to deal with this crime;coordination with courts of appeal to establish a specialized criminal court to consider all cases related to these crimes;and participating in international activities and addressing the international community to increase keenness on combating these crimes.
The first shelter for human trafficking victims was established in Qalyubia, in cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Solidarity, with theaims of dealing with victims of human trafficking who suffer as a result of what they were exposed to.
The National Coordinating Committee to Combat Illegal Migration and Human Trafficking was officially established in 2017 under the authority of the Prime Minister and is based at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The committee carries out a responsibility, strategy, and a national mission, in which 26 ministries and agencies participate, including administrative oversight and United Nations organizations.
International praise for the Egyptian efforts
Egypt's efforts and strategy in combating human trafficking have won global praise, as the report of the US State Department on the efforts of countries concerning combating human trafficking came to bear a significant appreciation for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's interest in the file of human trafficking and his focus on the importance of intensifying work to combat this crime.
The American report,which is one of three reports issued annually by the US Congress“Human Rights - Religious Freedoms - The Status of Human Trafficking”, shed light onPresident Sisi's efforts to establish the first special shelter for psychological rehabilitation of human trafficking victims and training the shelter'sstaff to efficiently deal with victims of this heinous crime.
The report pointed out that the Administrative Control Authority added powers to contribute in combating human trafficking, as the National Academy for Combating Corruptionis an integral part of the authority. The authoritytracks forms of human trafficking in Egypt and successfully leads to the arrest ofthe perpetrators.
The US State Department's report placed Egypt in the second place among four scores for the second year in a row, which reflects the seriousness with which Egypt deals with this crime.
Shocking international statistics
Global human trafficking's profits are estimated at $ 150 billion, and 40 million people are victims of human trafficking, according to the latest United Nations statistics in 2016. Slavery and human trafficking affect one out of 185 people around the world.
One-third of the victims of human trafficking are children;refugee, migrant, and displaced children are most at risk of human trafficking. In the absence of safe legal means to migrate or flee areas of crisis and war, many are forced to resort to irregular and dangerous ways to migrate or flee, and in this case, they are exposed to all forms of risks.
About 60 percentof the victims of human trafficking experienced sexual exploitation. America topped the list of countries where human traffickers sexually exploit victims.The list includes Europe and Southeast Asia as well.
The report stated that one-third of the victims of human trafficking were forced to work and that begging and illegal organ resectionis another type of exploitation for victims of human trafficking, according to the United Nations report.
International efforts to counter human trafficking
There is a set of international charters, protocols, and agreements to combat human trafficking, such as the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery; the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; the Protocol to Combat the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; The Forced Labor Convention;The Forced Labor Abolition Convention;The Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention; and finally the 1973 Minimum Age Convention.
On 17 September, six Egyptian workers returned home after being kidnapped by human trafficking elements in Beni Walid area, southwestern Libya.
On July 30 of every year, the world celebrates the International Day against Human Trafficking, intending to raise awareness of this grave violation and call for strengthening prevention and protection from it. This day has been established in 2013.