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14 November 2013 - Media release

Building global response against human trafficking focus of INTERPOL conference

French Minister for Women’s Rights underlines need for international cooperation

LYON, France – Developing best practices and cooperation among stakeholders worldwide against human trafficking is the focus of an international two-day conference which started today at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters.

Officially opened by INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble and the French Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the 2nd INTERPOL Global Conference on Trafficking in Human Beings brings together some 150 law enforcement and non-governmental agency experts from almost 50 countries. The event is sponsored by the Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi.

“I am very pleased to have opened this conference as I know INTERPOL is highly mobilized and committed to fighting human trafficking, a transnational challenge confronting all countries and which they must address as a priority since human rights, women’s rights in particular, are at stake. Our countries must better protect themselves, and this means they must cooperate and work together,” said Minister Vallaud-Belkacem. 

A key theme at the conference is how through new technology, human trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with the Internet, social networks and mobile phones providing new avenues for sexual exploitation and abuse, and used by traffickers to recruit and sell their victims, or to attract potential customers.

Commending Minister Vallaud-Belkacem’s commitment  to women’s rights and to protecting victims of human trafficking, INTERPOL Secretary General Noble said that these same technologies hold equal opportunities for law enforcement to access intelligence and raise awareness, to help identify victims and take preventative measures.

“To take advantage of this, we need to change our habits, to break out of isolation, to share and exploit any piece of information available, anywhere in the world,” said Mr Noble. “This is what we at INTERPOL have been striving for since the very beginning of our activities almost a century ago.”

“Trafficking in human beings has for too long been perceived as a high-profit, low-risk activity. This perception has to change,” added Secretary General Noble.

“We need to adapt our tools and strategies to the changing forms of human trafficking and this starts by putting the victims’ rights and needs at the centre of the approach we develop,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief, pointing to a series of operations in recent years coordinated by INTERPOL across Central and Western Africa which led to the rescue of more than 800 children and the arrest of nearly 100 individuals.

Secretary General Noble also recognized the work of the INTERPOL Task Force on Human Trafficking which has developed a manual of best practice for investigators and is a key part of specialist training around the world.

In addition to the plenary session, several breakout sessions will address all aspects of human trafficking including the expanding criminal market linked to organ removal and transplantation, including of tissues and cells, the protection of sex workers, psychological profiling of victims, and the US Airline Ambassadors programme.

In this respect, officials at the conference will consider recommendations which include creating an international working group on organ trafficking, creating sub-regional working groups under the aegis of the INTERPOL Task Force on Human Trafficking and on exploring new solutions to collect operational intelligence from the Internet.

The meeting also includes international organizations, including EUROPOL, OSCE, UNODC, as well as the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, the International Organization for Migration, and Crime Stoppers International.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Ministre des Droits des femmes

Conference speech