Statement by  

Ms. Eman Hussain, Deputy High Commissioner (Singapore), 

At the High-Level Meeting of The General Assembly:

 the Appraisal of The United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons 

23 November 2021 

Thank you, Mr. President,   

Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this high-level meeting on the Appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. 

Addressing the trafficking problem is becoming increasingly complex given our globalized networks and rapid advancements in technology and transportation. The COVID pandemic has increased the vulnerabilities of people to trafficking, particularly women and girls. Given this situation, the Maldives welcomes the Political Declaration adopted yesterday and the clear signal it sends from the international community that human trafficking will not be tolerated anywhere and that we will continue to take the necessary steps to eliminate human trafficking in all its manifestations. 

Mr. President 

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges, our Government has remained steadfast in our efforts to combat human trafficking and to the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. In 2018, the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act was ratified which made trafficking a criminal offence punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment. The Maldives has also ratified two amendments to the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, in order to bring the definition of trafficking in line with the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol. We have also developed the Maldives National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan, and an Office in the Ministry of Defence, that coordinates the government’s efforts on trafficking. Recognizing the synchronization required to combat trafficking, our National Anti-Human Trafficking Steering Committee has a broad array of government agencies and ministries represented, to ensure an all-of-government approach to addressing this issue. To help bolster our efforts, the Government has allocated specific funds under the state budget for these activities.  

Mr. President, 

Beyond these legislative and policy changes, the government has stepped up action on the ground as well. A victim shelter has been set up to provide a secure refuge for victims of human trafficking. There have also been national social media campaigns to raise awareness on this issue. Furthermore, the role of law enforcement authorities has been elevated to better address human trafficking cases. These various interlinked and coordinated initiatives, supported by the strong political will of the government has resulted in Maldives being upgraded to Tier 2 in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2021 and being removed from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s list of Human Rights Priority Countries.  

The Maldives is pleased with the strong recent progress on this issue, but recognizes the need to continue to ramp-up efforts to combat trafficking.  

Mr. President, 

Trafficking, like many of our most pressing challenges of today, is one that no country can address alone. The Maldives welcomes The Political Declaration we have adopted here as a strong reaffirmation of our collective global political will to end trafficking. The Maldives remains committed to enhancing cooperation with our international partners to resolve the challenges faced in eliminating the complex crime of human trafficking on all fronts.  

Mr. President,  

The Political Declaration highlights the need to scale up the resources to match the gravity of the challenge. This includes intensifying our international cooperation, capacity building, exchange of best practices and know-how, to strengthen our ability to both prevent trafficking and address the needs of the victims. At the same time, we recognize that armed conflict, natural disasters and other crises result in increased risk of trafficking. We must ensure that efforts are undertaken to address the root causes of conflict, including climate change and other environmental and ecological destruction, that create conditions for human trafficking.  

Mr. President, 

Much like the Maldives has done at home, we must improve the overall coordination and coherence of the UN system to respond to trafficking and to support efforts of Member States, particularly those of small island developing states. Given the cross-cutting nature of this challenge, it is vital that the UN system continue to ensure that efforts are coordinated and complementary.  

Mr. President, 

Trafficking is an atrocious crime. This High-Level Meeting is a positive demonstration of the continued commitment of Member States, the UN System, and civil society actors, to continue to work closely together to close the gaps in addressing human trafficking.  

I thank you.