A total of 780 human trafficking victims were reported in Tunisia in 2018, up from the 742 registered the previous year, the National commission for the fight against human trafficking (INLCTP) has said. The majority of cases were 'domestic slavery' and 'forced labor.'
TUNIS - A total of 780 human trafficking victims were reported in Tunisia in 2018, up from the 742 registered the previous year, according to the Tunisia's National Commission for the Fight against Human Trafficking (INLCTP). A reported 48 percent were foreign nationals and a further 48 percent were minors, INLCTP president Raoudha Laabidi said at the INLCTP's presentation of its annual report. The presentation took place during a seminar on 'Human Trafficking in Tunisia: State of affairs and National Referencing Mechanism,' which was organized in cooperation with the International Organization for Migrants (IOM), the UN Procurement Division (UNPD), the Council of Europe, NGO Accovati senza Frontiere, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC).
The majority of human trafficking victims in Tunisia (49 percent) were found to be exploited in domestic slavery and forced labor cases, followed by economic exploitation (34.1 percent) and sexual slavery (11.9 percent), said Laabidi. The president added that women and girls were the most vulnerable, and that nearly half of the reported victims were children. The majority of foreign victims hailed from Ivory Coast (79.2 percent) while 15.7 percent were from Tunisia.
In 2017, Tunisia had reviewed a record number of 742 cases of underage victims of human trafficking. 100 percent of those cases were foreigners, according to INLCTP; victims suffered from of sexual and economic exploitation as well as organized crime.
The Tunisian Parliament in 2016 approved legislation on the prevention and fight against human trafficking. Then, in February 2017, it established the Committee for the Fight Against Human Trafficking.
Focus on child exploitation
According to this year's report, the Commission's action in 2018 focused on fighting child exploitation, in particular begging. The report further said that the INLCTP's efforts contributed to reducing the number of exploited children. Civil society and international organization were also praised in the report for their role in denouncing cases of human trafficking. INLCTP President Raoudha Laabidi said a total of 430 cases (81 percent) were reported by them. Laabidi in particular called for all actors involved in fighting human trafficking to adopt an initiative by authorities - a national mechanism against trafficking.
Antonio Manganella, the director of Lawyers Without Borders in Tunis, also called for more awareness in the public opinion. ''We are witnessing a trivialization and social acceptance of the crime of human trafficking, especially when it concerns economic exploitation," he said, adding that "this is why it is necessary to develop'' awareness campaigns for citizens. Manganella also advocated for faster judicial proceedings so as not to ''create a culture of impunity''.
''It should also be noted that there is a great difference between clandestine immigration and the crime of human trafficking,'' Manganella said, noting that trafficking within Tunisia ''concerns more Tunisians than foreigners." The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been working on the phenomenon for years in close cooperation with local authorities. The INLCTP, IOM and other institutions taking part in the seminar on Thursday have organized events on Avenue Bourguiba to raise public opinion's awareness on the phenomenon.