Domestic Implementation of International Standards Combating Human TraffickingBy Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific(CATW-AP)
First, let me say that in behalf of trafficking survivors, especially those from prostitution, andadvocates in the region, I am very happy that the National Human Rights Commission of Koreais focusing on trafficking in persons as a major human rights issue, meriting coordinatedresponses from the governments, human rights institutions and civil society organizations. It is indeed important to review the international standards – the established universalframeworks in viewing the global problem, the nuances of such a human rights perspective, thecommitments made by states and what is happening in reality. I will also attempt to analyze theroots of challenges in domestic application, as well as facilitating factors therein. My paper will primarily cover the realities in the Philippines, but will also look later at other Asian examples or cases. To review thus, the relevant international standards which have explicit mention of humantrafficking or closely related issues are:
1.the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), putting particular attention to Article 6 on Trafficking;2.the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and o the Exploitation of theProstitution of Others; and3.the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Womenand Children.
But fundamental human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the InternationalConvention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR), the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and the InternationalConvention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families cansimilarly be referred to as containing lists of rights violated in trafficking cases. Theseinstruments contain, among several others, the rights to:
1.life, liberty, security of person (Art. 3, UDHR),2.freedom from slavery, servitude and all forms of slave trade (Art. 4, UDHR; Art. 8, ICCPR)3.freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Art. 5, UDHR;Art.7, ICCPR),4.recognition everywhere as a person before the law (Art.16, ICCPR),5.non-discrimination to the equal protection of the law (Art. 26, ICCPR),6.highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (Art. 12, ICESR).
Through both sets of general instruments and those that make particular reference to trafficking,states parties are obliged to submit reports on how the rights are being implemented. Nationallegislations are to be crafted in harmony with these international standards. In the Philippines, the anti-trafficking law or Republic Act 9208 was passed as an almost exactcopy of the Palermo Protocol or the UN Anti-Trafficking Protocol, attached to the MainConvention on Transnational Organized Crime. Its most salient points, such as the definition of trafficking as a crime where the “consent” of the victim is rendered irrelevant, are adopted. Letme just reiterate how significant it is to remove from the victim the burden of proof that she was