Reclaiming digital spaces to fight human trafficking and protect its victims – World

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NEW YORK, July 30, 2022 – Migrants represent a considerable proportion of detected victims of human trafficking worldwide, accounting for 65% of identified victims in Western and Southern Europe, 60% in the Middle East, 55% in East Asia and in the Pacific, 50% in Central and Southeast Europe and 25% in North America. In recent times, the Internet is increasingly used to advertise fake jobs, recruit and exploit these victims.

On the occasion of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2022, commemorated under the theme “use and abuse of technology”, the UN Migration Network urges States to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by technology to strengthen the response to human trafficking while ensuring the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all migrants.

Since COVID-19, traffickers have increasingly adapted their business models to seize new opportunities offered by technological advances to perpetuate human rights abuses for profit. By shifting the recruitment, screening and exploitation of migrants to online platforms and tools, traffickers reduce the likelihood of detection and ensure greater profitability. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated and widened the vulnerability of many people due to the increasing use of technology in daily life, including children and adolescents who are particularly at risk as they spend more time online. unattended line. Thus, interventions promoting online safety are essential.

Under the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, States commit to taking action to prevent, combat and eradicate human trafficking in the context of international migration, including by strengthening the capacity to investigate , to prosecute and sanction human trafficking. Technology can facilitate the detection of crimes committed online and beyond; and strengthen the protection of human rights, as it can be used to monitor, record, store, analyze and facilitate the exchange of information on human trafficking. However, these actions must always be applied in a way that protects human rights, including the implementation of human rights due diligence measures and compliance with data protection standards, privacy and freedom of expression, as well as consideration of the human rights impacts that actions may have on the rights of migrants and victims. The United Nations Global Report on Trafficking in Persons reveals that traffickers use internet platforms without physical or geographic limitation to: advertise exploitative services disguised as legitimate activities, reach out to large numbers of potential victims and exploit victims around the world.

Technology-enabled cross-border trafficking requires fewer human resources and easily connects perpetrators, including, for example, recruiters and enforcement officials in countries of origin, transit and destination, thus enabling at all times the exploitation of the victims. In this context, internet technologies such as online banking and blockchain technologies, including cryptocurrencies, can also increase the risks of illicit international money transfers.

In situations of human trafficking for the purposes of forced labor, sexual exploitation and slavery, migrant workers are sometimes recruited through deceptive job advertisements posted on fake websites or false advertisements on legitimate job portals, job applications and social networking websites, to find themselves in exploitative situations.

In this context, the UN Network on Migration calls on States to:

  • Strengthen their efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate technology-facilitated human trafficking
  • Incorporate a human rights-based, gender-sensitive and child-sensitive perspective into strategies being developed to address the nexus between technology and human trafficking
  • Strengthen the capacity of law enforcement authorities to conduct effective investigations and operations in cyberspace, ensuring that any use of technology complies with human rights laws and standards
  • Use firewalls between national efforts to respond to human trafficking and those of immigration authorities, to provide the necessary protection to migrants in vulnerable situations, while applying the principle of non-punishment of victims of trafficking. Trafficking
  • Support victims and those at risk by allocating the necessary resources to strengthen protection systems, including specialized services for children in coordination with national law enforcement
  • Systematically involve victims and people at risk, including children and young people, in the development of technological solutions to combat human trafficking
  • Engage communities and groups at risk and their networks, including parents and teachers, through initiatives to prevent human trafficking
  • Amend or introduce national legislation to combat technology-facilitated human trafficking in accordance with international human rights law
  • Partner with other stakeholders, including the private sector, academia, employers, labor organizations and civil society, to identify and anchor responses to human trafficking in the potential presented by technology
  • Collaborate with relevant technology companies to address the possible use of technology for trafficking purposes, including introducing appropriate due diligence processes in the design and production of new technologies
  • Improve data collection and research and regulatory responses on the misuse of ICTs to enable human trafficking, in particular the misuse of social networks
  • Ensure that data protection standards are met and regularly assess the ethical and rights implications of using technological solutions to combat human trafficking
  • Use technology and innovative tools to strengthen international cooperation in addressing cases of human trafficking, in accordance with international law while guaranteeing the rights of victims, including access to justice and comprehensive reparations
  • Improve existing state-facilitated digital technology platforms for recruitment, placement and/or job matching for migrant workers
  • Improve digital literacy and ensure that workers and employers have access to legitimate digital platforms for recruitment and placement

Successfully combating human trafficking in the context of international migration effectively requires an informed, committed, practical and rights-respecting use of technology in the future to keep pace with the new and evolving modus operandi of traffickers. , including providing support, assistance and protection to victims. . The same Internet technologies abused by traffickers can be exploited to minimize the risk of people being trafficked online. It is time to reclaim digital spaces to counter human trafficking and protect its victims.

Media contacts

Matias Lindemann

UNICEF New York

Tel: +1 917 547 2846

Email: [email protected]

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