Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Australian Statement on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children,

on her Mission to Australia.

22 June 2012

The Australian Government welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, on her mission to Australia. Australia looks forward to continuing our productive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, and reiterates our ongoing commitment to supporting and facilitating the work of United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders.

Trafficking in persons and related exploitative practices are abhorrent crimes, resulting in grave contraventions of human rights. All around the world, slavery, servitude and forced labour remain the daily reality for many of our fellow human beings – and Australia is not immune. Fortunately, due to our strong migration controls and geographic isolation, opportunities to traffic people to Australia are limited. However, Australia considers that just one victim of trafficking is one too many.

The Australian Government is committed to working with other governments, international organisations such as the United Nations, and domestic and international civil society organisations to combat trafficking, and to promote a rules-based global environment. Australia’s $A100 million anti-trafficking strategy is built around four central pillars. These are prevention; detection and investigation; criminal prosecution; and victim support and rehabilitation. Together, Australia’s suite of anti-trafficking measures is intended to address the full cycle of trafficking, from recruitment to reintegration.

While Australia is proud of our comprehensive, whole of-government strategy to combating trafficking in all its forms, we recognise that there is always more work to do. The Australian Government will carefully consider each of the recommendations made in the Special Rapporteur’s report on her mission to Australia. In some cases, improvements have already begun.

As recommended by the Special Rapporteur, the Australian Government recently introduced legislation to strengthen our laws criminalising trafficking and related exploitative practices. This will ensure Australia’s ongoing compliance with international obligations. The proposed measures include the creation of offences against forced marriage and forced labour.

In consultation with stakeholders, the Australian Government will shortly begin work on developing a revised formal national plan of action. In line with the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation, the plan of action will include benchmarks and indicators to measure progress and impact.
The Australian Government recognises that despite the strengths of our efforts to combat trafficking, there are areas where our systems can be improved. Australia notes the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations for such improvement. We continue to constantly strive to better our efforts including training for frontline officials, victim identification procedures, and support services.

Australia will also continue to increase options for safe and legal migration whilst ensuring such schemes do not allow for exploitation.

Australia welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s acknowledgement of our robust working relationship with civil society. In the complex fight against trafficking, government action is only part of the solution. Australia is fortunate to have a highly engaged civil society sector, which facilitates essential community awareness initiatives, and provides direct outreach and support services to victims of trafficking and other slavery-like practices. Maintaining effective, productive working relationships with civil society organisations is an essential component of Australia’s strategy to combat trafficking. Since 2008, the Australian Government has provided $2.9 million to these organisations to assist them in this vital work.
Australia is also pleased to note the Special Rapporteur’s recognition of our role as a regional leader in combating trafficking. Australia is active in regional efforts to combat trafficking. We engage in a wide range of activities with international partners to build capacity and reduce opportunities for traffickers to operate in our region. We do this through our aid program, through international legal cooperation, and through our role as co-chair of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.

The Australian Government was pleased to host the Special Rapporteur’s recent visit to Australia, and once again we wish to thank her for her interest in our ongoing commitment to combating trafficking in persons.