China plans to ratify a United Nations protocol on human trafficking as part of its ongoing fight against cross-border crime, a senior official from the Ministry of Public Security said Thursday.
Chen Shiqu, head of the ministry's office of combating human trafficking, said: "China has put efforts to ratify the protocol at the top of its agenda."
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which China ratified in 2000.
The country earlier adopted a National Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking (2008-12), which took effect in January.
"The ratification (of the protocol) will facilitate the implementation of the national plan," Chen said.
Government officials and scholars met with UN representatives yesterday in Beijing to discuss China's accession to the protocol.
Despite the remaining gaps in legislature, if ratified, the protocol will bring changes to China's legal framework on anti-trafficking, including broadening the definition of trafficking, Kathleen Speake, chief technical advisor to the International Labor Organization in China, said.
"It will also bring comprehensive ways of fighting human trafficking through prevention, prosecution and protection, and give more attention to assistance to more victims," she said.
"The first changes may be seen in cross-bordering trafficking, as the protocol is more specific on these issues," Speake said.
Chen said the ratification will aid cooperation and communication with the international community on fighting human trafficking, particularly on cross-border crimes.
John Sandage, head of the treaty and legal assistance branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said that by ratifying the protocol, China would provide leadership in the Asian region.
Around the world, about 700,000 people are trafficked every year, most of them women and children.
China has an average of between 2,000 and 3,000 cases a year.
"Trafficking is a crime that shames us all, but when we work together, we have a better chance of stopping it," Sandage said.