The Philippines: Trafficked persons are victims–DFA

MANILA, Philippines—Instead of being penalized, trafficked persons should be regarded as victims.

This is the “human rights-based approach” that the global community should use in resolving the billion-dollar human trafficking problem, according to Jesus Yabes, foreign affairs undersecretary for migrant workers affairs at Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In remarks before a United Nations panel last week, Yabes cited the Philippine’s antitrafficking efforts and “its belief in respecting the inherent rights and dignity of all human beings.”

“To this end, the Philippines signed and ratified the UN Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol,” the DFA official said, adding that the country had “enacted an antitrafficking law that advocates a human rights-based and victim welfare-centered approach to trafficking in persons.”

This meant that “one would not criminalize the acts of trafficked persons but recognize their situation as victims,” Yabes said.

Yabes was a panelist at a roundtable discussion during the UN High Level Dialogue on Migrant and Development held at UN Headquarters in New York City.

According to the US Department of State TIP report released this year, despite its resolve to curb human trafficking, the Philippines continues to contend with a “paucity of arrests and convictions” of trafficking suspects and faces a “serious problem” in child trafficking.

Yabes also called for greater international cooperation in assisting migrants in crisis situations, citing the country’s experience in reaching out to Filipinos in conflict-affected and disaster-stricken countries.—Tarra Quismundo