Human Trafficking – Eradicating Modern-Day Slavery through Sustainable Development

Remarks by Ms. Zebib Gebrekidan During the High-level event “In Stronger Partnership and Better Coordination of Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking: Eradicating Modern-Day Slavery through Sustainable Development

February 9th, 2016, New York

Zebib_Gebrekidan on Human Trafficking
Ms. Zebib Gebrekidan from the Eritrean Permanent Mission to the UN at a UN special high-level event organized by the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, in collaboration with UNDOC.

Mr. Secretary General,

Mr. President.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to first thank the Government of Belarus for their efforts in coordinating the Group of Friends United Against Trafficking and their role in the organization of this event.

Eritrea as a member of the Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking is committed to make positive contribution in realizing the objective of the Group.

The theme of this event “Eradicating Modern-Day Slavery through Sustainable Development” is timely as the United Nations move into the implementation of Agenda 2030.

For the sake of time, I will focus on three areas that can help us strengthen and revive our efforts against the heinous crime of trafficking in persons.

1. Strengthen dialogue, cooperation and coordination between countries of origin, transit and destination in addressing the root causes of irregular migration and human trafficking. This includes, addressing the pull factors, such as politically motivated policies in countries of destination that unjustifiably give preferential treatment of economic migrant from some countries by labeling them as refugees or asylum seekers.

For example, with regime change agenda objective once Eritreans reach the shores of Europe and America, they are given preferential treatment and accorded automatic asylum status. Legal concepts such as Non-Refoulment and Prima Facie are loosely used as a soundbite when dealing with Eritrean illegal immigrants. As a result, several African illegal immigrants are advised and coached by human traffickers to claim to be Eritreans, resulting in an extremely inflated figure concerning Eritrean illegal and irregular migrants.

Confirming these acts, a few months ago the Ambassador of Austria in Ethiopia, Mr. Andreas Milan, in an interview with an Austrian media outlet, APA, stated that “thousands of Ethiopians, continuing to migrate illegally to Saudi Arabia and South Africa, and those who flee to Europe claim that they are from Eritrea. We believe that among the thousands of Eritrean migrants in Europe, 30 – 40 % are Ethiopians”.

Furthermore, the EU border Control Agency FRONTEX, in its first quarterly 2015 report in paragraph 23, states “before arriving in Libya, Ethiopians are often advised by human smugglers to claim Eritrean nationality. This will indicate that the number of Eritreans arriving in Italy is probably inflated to this very prevalent nationality swapping.”

This fact is being properly appraised and understood by several European delegations who have visited and are visiting Eritrea. As a result the Danish, UK, Swedish and Norwegian governments have consequently revised their asylum policy concerning Eritreans. We hope others will follow these remedial and rectifications.

2. The existing Interagency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), as well as regional initiatives such as Horn of Africa Initiative must be strengthened and supported.

3. Supporting member states in the implantation of UN Convention against transitional organized crimes and TIP protocol is essential. In this regard the work of UNODC is commendable.

In conclusion, the government of Eritrea reaffirms its commitment to fight Human Trafficking and strongly believes that a global investigation team should be set up by the UN and appropriate legal action must be taken against the criminals.

I thank you!