Cage urges action on trafficking
Vienna - Hollywood actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Nicolas Cage appealed to the international community on Thursday to do more to fight organised crime, while reaching out to the victims of trafficking.
"No part of the world is immune to trafficking and organised crime," the Oscar-winner told a UN conference here, describing the problem as "highly contagious".
"Children as well as adults, particularly women, are at risk of becoming its victims in every country on our planet."
States were meeting this week in Vienna to review the UN's Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC), which entered into force in 2003, and assess its effectiveness so far.
Although 157 states have ratified UNTOC, many did not make sufficient use of it, either to fight crime or to improve international co-operation, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which hosted the conference.
"Organised crime is too big for communities or even states to confront on their own. States must work together," Cage appealed in his speech.
At the same time, it was important to put a human face on the statistics, which have become so large they are now meaningless, he added.
As a UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, the actor travelled last year to Uganda and Kenya where he met with child soldiers, and he has also set up a fund to provide them with shelters, as well as medical and psychological assistance.
"There are many kinds of victims of organised crime, and... children are among the most vulnerable," he noted.
Many were forced into prostitution, piracy or the army, while others became addicted to drugs or infected with HIV.
"If a young child is forced to become a soldier or a drug mule or a prostitute, is that child a criminal or a victim?" he asked.
Nicolas Cage, who won an Oscar in 1996 for Leaving Las Vegas, was named Goodwill Ambassador for Global Justice for the UNODC last year.