Financial Trafficking in Millions of Citizens Is Not ‘Illicit’!

Human Wrongs Watch

By Badriya Khan in Brussels

Expensive studies prepared by prestigious organisations come now to say that the “physical” trading in human beings is the third most profitable “illicit” business after drug and arms trafficking. Does this imply that trafficking in the savings, properties, jobs and fate of hundreds of millions of citizens all over the world –as a commodity subject to speculations by “market lords”– does not fall into the category of “illicit” business?

Monument to Slaves, Zanzibar. Photo: Mila Zinkova

Apparently it is so. In fact, studies by UN specialised bodies and outstanding “clubs of the rich” organisations seem to ignore the ongoing, uncontrolled financial trafficking in the fate of human beings by private corporations and banks, as well as by the so-called ratings agencies, led by the U.S.-based Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investor Service, and Fitch Rating.

Take the case of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy, among others–let alone the world poorest countries, and think of the number of citizens that have lost their jobs due to current wild money market speculations. Here you are some figures.

“The global economic downturn has resulted in an employment crisis: global unemployment increased by 8.4 million in 2008 (7.4 percent) and global job losses could hit 50 million in 2009,” said the World Bank (WB) already more than two years ago.

233 Million More Working Poor In Two Years

WB also said that evidence suggests that “the shift from higher to lower productivity jobs is expected to result in nearly 233 million more working poor (from 2007 to 2009), around 100 million of whom will be in South Asia.”

For its part, the UN International Labour Office (ILO) reported also over two years ago “a further increase in unemployment, working poor and those in vulnerable employment.”

In its Global Employment Trends Update, May 2009, the ILO revised upwards its unemployment projections to levels ranging from 210 million to 239 million unemployed worldwide in 2009.

We are seeing an unprecedented increase in unemployment and the number of workers at risk of falling into poverty around the world this year”, said ILO director general Juan Somavia on May 2009, alerting that “This is cause for grave concern.”

200 Million Workers At Risk If Living On Less Than 2 Dollars A Day

Updated projections of working poverty across the world indicate that 200 million workers are at risk of joining the ranks of people living on less than USD 2 per day between 2007 and 2009,” the ILO reported.

The crisis is hitting youth hard. The number of unemployed youth is expected to increase by between 11 and 17 million from 2008 to 2009. The youth unemployment rate is projected to increase from around 12 per cent in 2008 to a range of 14 to 15 per cent in 2009.”

The ILO also said that “in the 2009-2015 period, around 300 million new jobs will have to be created just to absorb the growth in the labour force.”

Developing Countries Most Impacted

In East Asia it is estimated that 267 million people, representing more than one third of the total employed, were living on less than 2 dollars per day at the onset of the crisis. There were around 12 times as many people in vulnerable employment as in unemployment.

In South East Asia and the Pacific a fairly moderate increase in unemployment is projected for this region, though workers and firms in export-oriented industries are being hit hard.

In South Asia, approximately 5 per cent of the labour force is unemployed but nearly 15 times as many workers are employed, but in vulnerable employment. The number of workers living on less than USD 2 per day is projected to grow by up to 58 million between 2007 and 2009.

In Latin America, the unemployment rate is projected to rise from 7.1 per cent in 2007 to between 8.4 and 9.2 per cent in 2009.

25% Unemployment In The Middle East

The ILO also projects an increase in unemployment of up to 25 per cent in the Middle East and up to 13 per cent in North Africa in 2009 compared to 2007. “Vulnerable employment is also expected to increase in both regions. Around one in three workers in each region are in vulnerable employment and this ratio could rise to as much as 4 in 10.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 73 per cent of the region’s workers are in vulnerable employment, and this could rise to more than 77 per cent this year.

The Business Of Modern Slavery

Meanwhile, and as if it were not related to the above, the ILO reports in a specific study on the business of ‘physically’ buying and selling human beings, that an estimated number of 12.3 human beings taken each year captive by criminal networks, generates around 32 billion dollars a year. “Trafficked people are dumped into “forced labour in inhuman conditions.”

Such trade in human being is expected to increase. In fact, there is growing evidence that criminals are turning to trafficking in human beings and the smuggling of migrants to a greater extent as these crimes are seen as highly profitable, says a recent report by the inter-governmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF Report “Money Laundering Risks Arising from Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants” issued on July 2011, also explains that there may be risks that this inhuman trafficking be linked to another criminal activity—money laundry.

FATF, which defines itself as “the most important body for international cooperation against money laundering,” gives different names and acronyms to abominable business of the trading in human beings: trafficking in human beings (THB) and the smuggling of migrants (SOM).

Origin And Destination Of The New Slaves

Most reported regions of origin of trafficked people are the former Soviet Republics, Central and South-Eastern Europe, Western Africa and South East Asia, according to FAFT, which was set up during the Paris G7 summit in 1989 and now has 33 members, mostly OECD countries but also the Gulf Cooperation Council and the EU Commission.

The main destination countries are located in Western Europe, North America and Western Asia. Trafficked victims transit by Western, Central and South-Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent South-East Asia, Central America and Western Africa.

A Widespread And Ever-Increasing Crime In OSCE Region

Nowadays, trafficking in human beings is a serious crime that is widespread and ever-increasing throughout the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) region and beyond.

With 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE defines itself as “the world’s largest regional security organization.”

Every day, thousands of people – among them a significant proportion of children – are deceived, abused, threatened and coerced into situations of exploitation that amount to slavery.”

Sexual exploitation, Domestic Servitude, Organs Trade

The reports say that “the variety of forms of exploitation is endless and includes trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation, for domestic servitude, forced begging, petty crime, pickpocketing, and trafficking for the purpose of organ removal.”

Moreover, the fundamental element of trafficking is exploitation. Trafficked persons are held in unfamiliar and isolated environments where they are forced to work or provide services under violence, threat or subtle means of coercion, often to pay back an insurmountable debt.

These people often do not speak the local language, are unaware of their rights, are deprived of their documents, and depend heavily on their exploiter for food and lodging, as well as for making contact with the outside world. They are not free to leave as they have “no real and acceptable alternative but to submit to the abuse involved”, they add.

“This is the reality of trafficking in human beings today. It is a massive phenomenon of modern-day slavery. It is also one of the worst forms of violence against women and girls, who are particularly targeted not only for sexual exploitation but for specific purposes such as domestic servitude, owing to social vulnerability factors such as feminization of poverty, and to a persistent imbalance of power between the sexes.”

Trafficking shows no sign of abating worldwide. It is therefore crucial to change the perception of trafficking that has often been treated as a marginal phenomenon, involving the profiles of certain victims only, or limited to sexual exploitation.

“On the contrary, trafficking for labour exploitation appears to be increasingly linked to worrying trends related to globalisation, especially in light of the global economic downturn.”

What Is Behind?

Such a dramatic increase in modern slavery does not come out of the blue. Buying and selling human beings has been a constant feature of European and U.S. policies and need to exploit human beings as a free-of-charge labour force.

Officially eliminated by law, big and small private corporations in rich, democratic countries still need (and use) slavery as an ‘ordinary’ business practice to produce more earnings.

Ignacio Ramonet, Director of Le Monde Diplomatique-Spain, gives a sound, realistic explanation to such abominable practice of trafficking in human beings.

Neoliberalism has created a fierce competition between labour and capital. In the name of free trade, the major multinationals manufacture and sell their goods around the world, producing where labour is cheapest and selling where the cost of living is highest,” he says. The new capitalism has made competitiveness its primary engine and brought about a commodification of labour and labourers.” (Human Wrongs Watch)


Copyright © 2011 Human Wrongs Watch

This article may be re-published, sourcing to Human Wrongs Watch 

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