Sudan police save 85 minors from trafficking network: Interpol

The networks abducted migrants and demanded ransoms, the agency said, and forced their victims to work or beg. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Sudan police save 85 minors from trafficking network: Interpol

  • The networks abducted migrants and demanded ransoms, the agency said, and forced their victims to work or beg
  • Two men and twelve women were arrested and around $20,000 of suspected ransom money was seized

DAKAR: Nearly 100 human trafficking victims have been rescued in a major police operation in Sudan, including dozens of children forced to work in illegal gold mines, Interpol said on Monday.
Operation Sawiyan involved 200 Sudanese police officers who rescued 94 people, including 85 minors, from criminal networks in and around the capital, Khartoum, in an Interpol-led week-long crackdown last month, the global police organization said.
Many of the victims were from other African countries and believed to have been traveling toward Europe when they fell into the hands of traffickers, said Tim Morris, Interpol’s executive director of police services.
“We believe that they were transiting through Sudan and then kidnapped en route and diverted into these forced labor activities,” Morris told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The victims came from Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan, he said.
Police found some children as young as ten handling dangerous chemicals in open-air gold mines east of Khartoum, while others were forced to beg in the city, said Interpol.
They also arrested 14 suspected traffickers and seized 20,000 dollars which they believe included ransom money sent by a victim’s family to buy his freedom, the organization added.
Sudan is a source and transit country for African migrants hoping to reach Europe via Libya and the Mediterranean, according to the UN Organization for Migration (IOM).
The north African nation has one of the world’s highest rates of slavery — with about 465,000 people enslaved or one in 80 of its population — the 2018 Global Slavery Index found.
Children separated from their parents or traveling alone are at a high risk of exploitation, sexual and physical violence, said a spokeswoman for the IOM office in Sudan.
“In many cases these children are exposed to forced unpaid labor including street begging, gold mining, street vending, agriculture and other hazardous working conditions with limited access to education, protection and health services,” she said.
The IOM and partners have provided food and health care to the children rescued in Operation Sawiyan, who will later be asked about where and how they were trafficked, Interpol said.
The operation was part of a series of Interpol raids on human trafficking in North Africa and the Sahel that are largely focused on migration routes, according to Morris.
“Episodes like this one where you see the terrible conditions and exploitation ... show that you have to treat this particular crime issue right up and down the supply chain and not just at one end,” he said.


Indonesia palm oil growers threaten retaliation over EU ‘intimidation’

Updated 39 min 14 sec ago
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Indonesia palm oil growers threaten retaliation over EU ‘intimidation’

  • Earlier this week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products
  • Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil

JAKARTA: Biofuel producers in Indonesia called on the Indonesian government and EU to find a “win-win solution” to a dispute over legislation that will phase out palm oil manufacturing in the region, risking jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
Earlier this week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products, including passengers jets, train coaches, and motor vehicles.
“We want a win-win solution. Retaliation is not a favorable option but, eventually, what else can we do? It could become necessary if we keep being intimidated,” said Master Parulian Tumanggor, chairman of the Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association.
“If they stop biofuel, millions (of workers and farmers) will become unemployed. We don’t want that,” he added.
Pandjaitan said that with Indonesia’s aviation industry expected to expand threefold by 2034, the country will require about 2,500 aircraft in the next two decades — a big market for European companies.
Aircraft demand from Indonesia is worth more than $40 billion and it will create millions of jobs.
“It’s a matter of survival. If they treat us like this, we will retaliate strongly. We are not a poor country, we are a developing country and we have a big potential,” Pandjaitan said in a briefing with the EU ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Guerend, and European investors.
Darmin Nasution, chief economic minister, said Indonesia is considering a challenge to the EU legislation via the World Trade Organization, and will seek support from the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi spoke with her Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, on the sidelines of Organization of Islamic Cooperation emergency meeting in Istanbul on Friday.
“We agreed to work together to fight against discrimination of palm oil in the EU,” she said via Twitter.
Nasution said palm oil contributed $17.89 billion to Indonesia’s economy in 2018 and almost 20 million workers depended on the plantations for their livelihood.
On March 13 the European Commission adopted new rules on biofuels based on sustainability criteria with a two-month scrutiny period. The EU said “best available scientific data” show palm oil plantations are a major cause of deforestation and climate change.
Palm oil plantations in Indonesia have resulted in massive deforestation on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Guerend acknowledged the importance of palm oil to Indonesia in terms of jobs, but said that there was some flexibility in the regulation.
“It will be further modified in a few years’ time. It’s not cast in stone forever as the industry is dynamic, expanding, and reforming, and we take that into account,” he said.
“Our invitation for everyone is to work on sustainability because it’s in everybody’s interest,” he added.