RE: Issues to discuss

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Subject: RE: Issues to discuss
From: TAKAHASHI Saul (
Date: Sun Jul 02 2000 - 15:43:54 EDT

Melanie, I couldn't agree with you more that trafficking and smuggling are
being used in an almost interchangeable way. This is especially worrying to
me because, from the perspective of human rights, the two are fundamentally
different. Trafficking involves forcing or coercing somebody, transporting
them over an international border, and then forcing them into a situation of
sex slavery, forced labour etc. It is a human rights violation, and the
persons subjected to it should be treated in a way which befits their status
as victims of human rights abuses. Smuggling, on the other hand, is nothing
but the irregular transport of persons over an international border. While
the methods of transport may at times give rise to concern, smuggling as
such has nothing to do with human rights; it is a violation of national
border regulations, and while one may or may not be personally concerned
about that, the point is that is all it is.

In case there is any doubt, I raise this issue not because I am concerned
about "smuggled migrants" being treated as "victims of trafficking" and
given special treatment. Quite the opposite; I am concerned that persons
subjected to trafficking could be labeled merely as persons "smuggled" (or
"illegals", or "irregulars", or whatever the prevailing term happens to be
at the time), and treated in a way which does not take into account their
vulnerable situation.

In this regard, I might even go so far as to ponder whether the confusion
between the two terms is not at times intentional. This may sound
ridiculously paranoid, but, having been a refugee lawyer for some years, I
have seen how the terms "refugee" and "asylum seeker" (both of which give
rise to special protection obligations under international law) have been
used in an almost interchangeable fashion with "migrant", and openly
derogatory terms such as "bogus asylum seeker", "queue jumper", etc. I would
submit that this is not always due to ignorance, but has to do with the
utilisation (and manipulation) of populist xenophobic sentiment, for
political ends.

What we can do to combat this, I really don't know. However, I do feel that
the human rights perspective is useful in delineating a clear
differentiation between the two concepts, and in making the distinction
clear to others.

Thanks Saul Takahashi

 -----Original Message-----
From: Melanie Orhant []
Sent: 26 June 2000 14:28
To: Multiple recipients of list STOP-TRAFFIC
Subject: Issues to discuss

Dear List Members,

I have been thinking about a number of issues over the last couple of
months and wanted to discuss them with the list. It would be nice to
get a dialogue going about these or others issues and how they relate
to trafficking.

1. Public health and trafficking - what is the role of public
health officials? What is the role of public health organizations?
How is trafficking a public health issue? What can public health
organizations do to assist trafficked persons?

2. I believe that people international are conflating
trafficking and smuggling. This is illustrated on a daily basis on
Stop-Traffic, with newspaper clippings that use trafficking and
smuggling interchangeably. How do we educate people as to the
differences? What can we do to effect change?

Thanks and I look forward to reading your comments.

Melanie Orhant <<>>
Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
Stop-Traffic archive:

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