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By Godfrey Olukya    4-2-2014

Seychelles has been warned about human trafficking by UN special
rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Africa Press has reported.

“Yes Seychelles is an island but not an island out of reach of
traffickers and their nefarious activities in today’s globalised
world,”  Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, warned at the end of her first official
visit to the country.

“Trafficking in persons in Seychelles is at best insidious and remains
hidden as a result of lack of awareness,” said the independent expert
mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to promote the prevention of
trafficking in persons in all its forms and to encourage measures to
uphold and protect the human rights of victims.

“The potential scale of the problem of trafficking in persons in the
country, its trends and scope appears to be underestimated or unknown,
and needs to be further investigated by the Government and law
enforcement agencies,” she stressed.

The scarcely populated island has a large influx of both tourists and
migrant workers. Anecdotal evidence suggest that trafficking in
persons happens and that Seychelles may increasingly become a
destination country for both trafficking for sexual exploitation,
especially of girls from Eastern Europe, and also for labour
exploitation of migrant workers from India, China, Sri Lanka,
Bangladesh, the Philippines, Kenya, Madagascar and others.

“The political commitment to end human trafficking clearly exists in
Seychelles,” Ms. Ezeilo said. She noted, among other things, the
country’s ratification of key international conventions and the
creation of the National Anti-Trafficking Committee.

The Special Rapporteur welcomed the commitment to fight this
phenomenon and ensure that it does not take root in Seychelles
expressed to her by the President of Seychelles, James Alix Michel,
during an official meeting.

“However”, she said, “the immediate concern is the absence of a legal
and policy framework to prevent and combat trafficking in persons.”
The expert expressed regret that the Government was yet to criminalize
trafficking in persons as required by article 7 of the Palermo
Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, to
which Seychelles is a state party.

“I am concerned that in critical sectors of the economy, such as
tourism and fisheries, the government is yet to put in place measures
that will discourage sex tourism, child prostitution and trafficking
in persons for labour exploitation,” Ms. Ezeilo added.

The human rights expert urged the Government to fast-track the draft
anti-trafficking bill to fulfil its international obligations, and
establish a National Action Plan to combat trafficking based on a
human rights and victim-centred approach.

The Special Rapporteur highlighted the need to collect data on trends,
forms and manifestations of trafficking, its causes and consequences.
“This survey should be carried out in collaboration with research
institutions and in close cooperation with international, civil
society and faith-based organizations,” she specified.

“Seychelles also needs to assess technical assistance towards building
the capacity of its frontline officers, including police, immigration
officers, labour Inspectors and prosecutors, to help them identify
possible victims of trafficking, carry out necessary investigation and
prosecute the criminals involved,” she said.

END

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