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131 human trafficking victims reported in 2022 — Labour Ministry

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Jan 17,2023 - Last updated at Jan 17,2023

Thirty-four human trafficking cases involving 131 victims and 152 perpetrators were registered in Jordan in 2022, according to a report issued by the Labour Ministry (Petra file photo)

AMMAN — Thirty-four human trafficking cases involving 131 victims and 152 perpetrators were registered in Jordan in 2022, according to a report issued by the Labour Ministry. 

The report showed that 181 potential victims of human trafficking were housed in shelter centres in 2022. 

Moreover, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit at the Public Security Directorate (PSD) conducted 86 proactive inspection visits, the report stated. 

The ministry’s report for 2021 only registered 61 victims and 72 perpetrators of human trafficking and labour violations. That year, shelter homes housed 131 potential victims of human trafficking, the report said.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit”. 

In an interview with The Jordan Times, Director of the Ministry’s Central Inspection Department Haitham Najdawi said that the marked increase in the number of recorded human trafficking victims can be attributed to recent improvements in monitoring and investigative mechanisms employed to counter the crime.

This includes the national referral mechanism (NRM) for dealing with human trafficking cases, which was launched in 2022, he added. 

The “2022 Trafficking in Persons Report: Jordan” issued by the US Department of State (USDOS) showed that Jordan maintains its tier 2 classification. 

This classification means that “the Government of Jordan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so”, the USDOS report said. 

Aside from the newly drafted NRM, such efforts include legal amendments which increase penalties for traffickers, “formalising the use of specialised prosecutors and judges, and establishing a donations-based victims’ assistance fund”, the USDOS report added. 

According to the report, “The Judicial Council appointed a total of 41 specialised public prosecutors and judges… between June 2021 and January 2022”. 

The report also commended amendments to the 2009 Law on the Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings.

“The amended law prescribed penalties of at least seven years’ imprisonment, and a fine for adult and child sex trafficking and child labour trafficking. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping,” the report said. 

However, shortcomings in “several key areas” undercut the government’s efforts to counter this crime and hold traffickers accountable, according to the USDOS report. 

These include “Lenient sentencing [resulting in more than 88 per cent of sentenced traffickers receiving fines in lieu of imprisonment]”, it stated. 

Moreover, “authorities continued to arrest, detain and deport some victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as immigration violations and fleeing abusive employers,” it added. 

The report also pointed out that Jordan’s visa sponsorship system continues to increase migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation. 

The report recommended increasing efforts to reduce the lenient sentencing of convicted traffickers, increasing labour inspections and enhancing labour regulations in the agriculture sector, in addition to training judiciary and law enforcement officers and labour inspectors. 

It also recommended proactively screening Jordan’s vulnerable populations, such as refugees, foreign migrants and domestic workers, to identify trafficking victims, ensuring adequate funding to support the operations of trafficking shelters and reforming Jordan’s visa sponsorship system to allow workers the freedom to change employers.

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