Mr Palm's speech during the meeting of the State Committee on Fighting against Trafficking of Human Beings in Albania on 1 July 2011
Whenever I talk to Albanian friends or colleagues or people you casually meet over a coffee, they confirm to me that trafficking in human beings is something that Albanians find intolerable. It is something offensive and totally against the traditional - and even modern Albanian values. Also in Albania, it is considered a shameful violation of human rights and human dignity. It is something that nobody wants to happen. Citizens look to their officials to prevent and stop it.
Authorities have undertaken significant efforts and good progress has been made, as described in the annual report of the national coordinator on anti-human trafficking issues and in other reports. Progress has been made in prosecution, and there is better support to victims also due to good cooperation with civil society. Prevention and public awareness efforts continue. Administrative capacities are being strengthened.
But still, it happens, perpetrated by ruthless individuals, who take advantage of and deceive those who still live in miserable conditions and hope for a better life. Because trafficking is illegal and a horrible crime, it is concealed and therefore difficult to find. So one must look very hard. And the harder we look, the more cases we may find.
International trafficking tends to be in the focus particularly of countries at the receiving end. This is why efforts tend to be concentrated on international trafficking. As law enforcement in relation to cross-border crimes becomes more effective, there is a clear risk that internal domestic trafficking and exploitation of women and children is likely to increase. Albania enjoys economic growth, and the richer tend to get rich faster than the poor get out of poverty. The fast growing cities of Albania may well be the next destination for traffickers and their victims from poor rural areas.
Therefore, the public discourse against trafficking and exploitation of women and children must continue. The more the public is aware, about the standards and mechanisms related to prevention, protection of the victims, and prosecution, the less chance for these crimes to continue. For instance I understand that according to police records, almost 200 children are reported missing at some point of time. Most of them being found and reunited quickly. But it is clear that the risk for being abused is high for those children.
The United Nations in Albania, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and several other agencies have assisted authorities and civil society organizations to strengthen their response to Human Trafficking. We will continue to do so. Sharing our global experience, we assist in strategy development, legislation, and help with internationally accepted guidelines and strengthening administrative capacity. The UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking is there for governments, business, academia, civil society and the media to support each other and work in partnership. It helps to ensure that the response to trafficking is comprehensive. It works on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it everyone must be part of the fight.
I wish you a successful implementation of the strategy and its Plan of Action.