Statement by the

His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Foreign Secretary of the Maldives at the

High-level plenary meeting to review the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons

27-28 September 2017

Excellencies, distinguished representatives, ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this very crucial and timely meeting. It is as an important opportunity to generate further political momentum for the rapid implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. It is also timely against a backdrop where millions of people are moving across the globe with the hope of escaping poverty, conflict, but are increasingly and unwillingly falling into hands of smugglers and traffickers.

Trafficking in persons is as an inhumane and criminal activity. It tears apart families, and fuels violence. It is a transnational or organized crime, which targets the most vulnerable.

Despite the inherently cruel nature of the crime, the increased number of trafficking cases is alarming. There are more than 500 trafficking flows in operation today, moving men, women, and children within and across borders. It is estimated that a disturbing seventy-nine percent of trafficking victims are women and children.

When women and children are lured by promises of decent employment, they are sexually exploited and tortured if they try to escape; that is modern slavery, and this slavery should not be allowed in our modern civilized world.

And it is for this reason, that we as member States must do more. The Government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom remains committed to the global fight to prevent trafficking in persons in line with the Global Action Plan. Last year, the Maldives acceded to the "Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children" in an effort to reinforce the implementation of existing instruments against trafficking in persons.

As required by the Anti-Trafficking Act of the Maldives enacted in 2013, an Oversight Committee has been established in the Maldives to effectively steer policy and implement the legislation. In a further effort to address the issue comprehensively, the first National Action Plan to prevent trafficking in persons has been formulated for the period 2015-2019. The Plan underscores the necessity to strengthen partnerships with the international community to combat this criminal.

The Government of Maldives is also conducting new baselines studies in collaboration with international partners, so that we better understand the problem. We are also strengthening our training programs, so that law enforcement agencies are better equipped and know how to determine victims better. We have also established a mechanism to provide support and shelter to the victims.

Mr. President,

Trafficking in persons must be addressed in a multidisciplinary and comprehensive manner. The Government of Maldives is in complete agreement that the Global Action Plan and the Agenda 2030 should go hand in hand, and we recognize the specific targets of the Agenda 2030 which will help to accelerate the Global Action Plan more rapidly and effectively. We are also of the view that this is a menace that can only be eradicated, if we, the member states, join hands, strengthen our partnerships coordination efforts.

I thank you, Mr. President.