Qatar, with the participation of Austria, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Nigeria, the European Union, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, organised a high-level virtual event entitled 'Accelerating the Level of Commitment to Fight Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery during the Covid-19 Crisis and Beyond', on the sidelines of the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the progress made in implementing the United Nations Global Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.
The first session was attended by HE Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Samikh al-Marri, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Ghada Wali. The session was opened by HE Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani.
HE al-Marri affirmed in his speech that one of the priorities of Qatar's policy is to combat human trafficking, indicating that the State has taken a set of major measures and reforms with the aim of improving the conditions of expatriate workers, in compliance with the vision of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
He explained that Qatar's efforts are based on the principle of combating human trafficking, stressing the need for the modern strategy to combat modern slavery to be based on prevention, prosecution, protection of victims and guaranteeing human rights. The minister noted the recent measures taken by Qatar at the legislative and executive levels to promote and protect the rights of incoming foreign workers, which made Qatar a leading country in the region by completely abolishing the sponsorship system, abolishing the exit permit and facilitating the movement of workers and their transfer, establishing a non-discriminatory minimum wage for workers and domestic employees, as well as strengthening the voice of workers and effective remedies and establishing a workers' support and insurance fund.
HE al-Marri pointed out that Qatar is the first country in the Arab Gulf region to allow all migrant workers to change jobs freely without the need for a no-objection certificate from the previous employer by cancelling the sponsorship system and pointed out to the establishment of the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2017. Stating that it is an important step in the efforts of Qatar in this regard, as through the committee, he said a national plan was drawn up to combat trafficking in persons and to follow up its implementation, and to coordinate between the various authorities in the country in order to prevent trafficking, prosecute its perpetrators, protect victims and provide suitable places for their shelter and rehabilitation, in addition to forming national and international partnerships to combat trafficking in persons.
HE al-Marri expressed his belief that recovery from the (Covid-19) pandemic may provide an opportunity to adopt and implement policies and programs that would contribute to combating modern slavery, child labour and human trafficking. In turn, UN Secretary-General, in a speech via video, said that almost all countries are affected by human trafficking, whether it is a country of origin, transit or destination, calling on all countries to be part of the solution to prevent trafficking and protect people from modern slavery.
Guterres stressed the importance of the Political Declaration of the Global Action Plan, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Human Trafficking Protocol. He called on all governments to fulfill their obligations under the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
For her part, Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Ghada Wali, stated that Covid-19 pandemic has deepened vulnerabilities in the fight against human trafficking around the world. In her speech via video, she stressed the need to protect people in mixed migration flows and reducing exposure to trafficking by promoting irregular migration routes, calling for confronting the use of new technologies by human traffickers.
She explained that spending more time online during lockdowns has provided more opportunities to manipulate victims. The event aimed to look at how to increase the level of commitment and identify potential new partnerships, including the private sector, and ways to address identified gaps and persistent challenges in combating human trafficking. The event issued a joint statement to reinforce the UKs 2017 global call to action to end forced labour, modern slavery and trafficking by 2030, the matter that puts the fight against trafficking and modern slavery at the core of efforts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, including how best to protect vulnerable groups. (QNA)