Amman – The crime of Trafficking in Persons is considered one of the major challenges faced by the all countries of the world. As a result, the General Assembly of the United Nation in 2013 designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The UN resolution declared that such a day is necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
Trafficking in human beings is a global phenomenon that is generally defined as a form of modern slavery that affects around 27 million men, women and children from around the world. Violations of basic human rights, such as detention, physical violence or confiscation of documents occur in order to exploit victims either in the form of Forced Labor, Sexual Exploitation, or other forms of the crime. The crime effects every country in the world; whether that country is the origin, transit or destination of the victims.
This year’s celebration come after the issuance of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) by the US Department of State, which ranks governments’ efforts to combat trafficking in persons. The report downgraded Jordan’s rank to Tier 2 Watch List, after remaining for 10 years on Tier 2. According to the report, while the Jordanian government took efforts to combat the crime of trafficking since 2009, it did not increase these efforts which led to a decrease in the number of cases investigated, prosecuted, and convicted, and the identification and assistance of fewer victims as well. Additionally, the report referred to the numerous gaps that were highlighted in previous reports regarding the Anti-Human Trafficking law, which led to its amendment. However, the draft of the amended law is still being reviewed by the Parliament for over a year.
Despite our reservations on Jordan’s downgrade in this list, it is an opportunity to self-assess and review the gaps, including not seriously dealing with potential cases; lack of a follow-up program and reintegration for possible victims and the continuous conflicts between the various laws, which made it difficult to identify victims of trafficking.
In light of the above, Tamkeen would like to highlight the reports it sent to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit:
In 2019, 34 reports were sent concerning 37 potential trafficking victims. 33 of them were females, and 4 males who were originally from Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Uganda, Bangladesh, Philippines, Kenya and Ivory Coast. The reports included violations that ranged from Forced Labor, restriction on the freedom of movement, confiscation of passports, threats of kidnapping and the non-payment of wages. 7 of these reports were eventually adopted as crimes of Trafficking by the unit.
In the first half of 2020, 10 reports were sent to the Unit regarding 16 potential victims from Sri Lanka, Philippines, Uganda, Bangladesh and India. 9 of these victims were females and 7 males. The violations included: delay in wages payment, physical violence, and non-issuance of work permits.
Other types of violations include: restriction on the freedom of movement, confiscation of passports, non-payment of wages, denial of food, preventing workers from communicating with their families, physical abuse, denial of health care, being asked to work in various locations as well as verbal, physical, psychological or sexual violence.
Relevant authorities continue their efforts concerning the redefinition of the crime of Trafficking in Persons in terms that are clear and precise in the context of national laws. It is also paramount that the Anti-Human Trafficking law becomes compatible with other laws, especially the Penal Code. The compatibility is especially needed as numerous crimes, which are included within the trafficking definition, constituting as crimes in the Penal Code. They include: kidnapping, fraud and forcing women to engage in prostitution. Due to the difficulties highlighted above regarding the Anti-Human Trafficking law, many prosecutors prefer to use the Penal Code, which results in fewer crimes being prosecuted and sentenced as trafficking.
The effort to combat the crime of human trafficking requires amending the legislation related to forced labor whereby a clear definition is set for the crime, as well as stronger punishments for those who commit. Tamkeen has repeated this request during its numerous meetings it had with relevant stakeholders as well as in its different publications. It has also demanded the enactment of appropriate legislations as well as the implementation of appropriate administrative measures that will help to eliminate this practice and punish its perpetrators. It has also called for the abolishment of the practice of the Sponsorship System and the falsified complaints as both help entrench Forced Labor on the ground, as well as violate the basic human rights of workers.
Tamkeen calls for the amended Anti-Human Trafficking law to include a provision that would provide potential trafficking victims with a residency and work permits that are valid throughout the period where their case is reviewed. Such an amendment would enhance victims’ access to justice as current legislations allow for these workers to be detained or deported even while their case is still ongoing.
Tamkeen demands that special prosecutors are assigned specifically for human trafficking cases as this would contribute to a speedier litigation process. It will also lead to more cases being adapted as cases of human trafficking rather than cases of labor violations. Sentences for traffickers would also become stronger as current sentences are incompatible with the dangerous nature of the crime committed and are not deterrent enough for future perpetrators.
In order to prevent from the crime, the Regulatory System for Workers in the Agriculture Sector needs to be issued. Furthermore, it is important to establish a Shelter for Domestic Workers who leave the workplace.