Two-day workshop to set new milestone in the fight against human trafficking
Al Thara -September 27 (UNHCR)
Syrian efforts to combat the trafficking of persons will gain momentum this week during a two-day workshop entitled “Combating Trafficking in Persons and Cooperation Mechanisms” at the Blue Tower Hotel in Damascus.
Organised by the Syrian Women’s Union, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the workshop explores measures for the implementation of Syria’s new counter-trafficking legislation, adopted by presidential decree in January 2010.
Featured speakers at the event include the Grand Mufti of Syria Dr Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, Deputy Minister of Justice Dr Najem Al-Ahmad, Professor Ibrahim Darraji from the University of Damascus Faculty of Law, Senior Research Professor of International Law Mohamad Mattar of Johns Hopkins University, Patricia Sorensen of the Belgian NGO Payoke, and UNHCR Protection Officer Aseer al-Madaien.
“This workshop serves as a reminder that the trafficking of persons is a crime against humanity, religion and international law,” said Dr Majida Quteit, Head of the Syrian Women’s Union. “Trafficking is increasingly a problem due to armed conflicts in our region that invariably affect women.”
The new law – which entered into force last April – introduced definition and protection measures for victims of trafficking, including serious punishments for perpetrators and beneficiaries, the establishment of shelters for victims, and the creation of a Special Unit on Counter-trafficking at the Ministry of Interior.
“IOM Syria has been working jointly with Syrian counterparts to raise awareness and build capacities to combat human trafficking since 2005,” said IOM Representative Maria Rumman. “We are very pleased to see significant improvements, in particular the Legislative Decree # 3 of 2010, and the establishment of a specialised Counter-Trafficking Directorate. We believe that collaborative efforts involving all stakeholders will continue to be required to take counter-trafficking in Syria to the next level.”
Over the past few months, a series of awareness-raising workshops and lectures have been held nationwide by national and international organisations. In June, Damascus hosted the first INTERPOL Global Conference on Trafficking in Human Beings, bringing together more than 120 law enforcement and non-governmental agency experts from over 50 countries.
UNHCR’s participation in the workshop aims to highlight the link between human trafficking and international protection needs, focussing on the specific situation of refugees and asylum-seekers.
“Refugees are especially vulnerable to human trafficking,” said UNHCR Syria Representative Renata Dubini. “Prolonged displacement and uncertainty, coupled with increased financial pressure, can adversely affect the scope and severity of sexual and gender-based violence among refugees in Syria, including the trafficking of women and children.”
Women constitute almost half of the UNHCR-registered refugee population in Syria. Out of 52,054 registered families, 15,843 (or 29%) are female-headed households.
During the workshop, the Syrian Women’s Union will announce the establishment of a UNHCR-funded counselling centre to provide legal and social assistance to women survivors of gender-based violence, including refugee women and victims of trafficking.