Statement by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN at the Thematic Debate of the General Assembly on Human Trafficking

Baki İlkin 03.06.2008
Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

At the outset, I would like to express our warmest thanks to H.E. Mr. Srgjan Kerim, the President of the General Assembly, for convening this thematic debate. This is indeed a very timely gathering on an extremely important topic.

I would also like to thank H.E. Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, for her illuminating and thought-provoking address.

Of course, I would also like to express my deep appreciation to all the keynote speakers and panelists for their valuable contributions which enabled us to set the direction and tone of our debate.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

Human trafficking constitutes a clear violation of human rights and a serious offence to the dignity and the integrity of human beings. As a cardinal rule, every individual must be protected against human trafficking and this scourge should be totally eradicated from the face of the world. Yet we are still far from reaching this high goal. Our efforts should aim at, both the prevention and punishment of the crime of human trafficking to the maximum extent and the protection of victims, with a special emphasis on the most vulnerable, that is women and children.

With this attitude of mind, Turkey is committed to combat human trafficking and to protect its victims. To this end, Turkey has ratified the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and the three Protocols supplementing the Convention. The crime of human trafficking in the Turkish Penal Law is codified in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

Further to this legislative efforts, a National Task Force for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings has been established under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2002. The Task Force convenes regularly with the participation of all relevant institutions to review the situation and devise necessary measures for the effective implementation of the legislation in force. For instance, an Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which was prepared by The Task Force and approved by the Prime Ministry, has been quite effective in translating our commitments into practical deeds.

I would not take more of your time with a detailed account of our efforts. After all, 2006 Turkey Report on Combating Human Trafficking has been issued in both English and Turkish languages and it is distributed to all relevant international organizations. The 2007 Turkey Report on the other hand is under preparation.

Besides its national endeavors, Turkey also actively participates in the related activities of various international organizations such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and NATO in the field of human trafficking. For instance, during its Chairmanship-in-Office of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), Turkey organized a meeting on "Trafficking in Human Beings in the Black Sea Region", in cooperation with the Budapest Process, BSEC and UNODC on 9-10 October 2007 in Istanbul. It is also worth mentioning that Turkey joined the IOM as a full member in 2004.

In conclusion, Turkey is committed and determined to combat human trafficking and it will continue to intensify its efforts, in close cooperation with international organizations, NGO's and other representatives of civil society, to this end. Human trafficking is a blot on human conscience which needs to be erased once and for all.