This year’s theme for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is the use and abuse of technology, focusing on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and counter human trafficking. For over twenty years, the NEXUS Institute has been innovating the application and adaptation of methods for the collection, analysis, and presentation of new knowledge about trafficking in persons, including the role of technology in anti-trafficking work. For this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, we would like to highlight the following topics and publications:
Technology and TIP Data Collection
There exist an increasing number of technology options that can support or enhance data collection on trafficking in persons (TIP). Relationships to technology differ substantially across the world, including within communities and cultures. Our global study of good practice in TIP data collection found that the use of technology in TIP data collection needs to be case-by-case and aligned with the users, including data sources, data providers, and data collectors.
We conducted interviews with 128 key informants representing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), research projects, academic institutions, international organizations (IOs), private sector actors, and government, and found that technology as a tool for data collection must be assessed and weighed in terms of any limitations its use may pose, including in relation to a specific context and different data collectors, data providers, and data sources. This also requires considering any possible ethical issues or risks that may arise with the use of the technology. A review of relevant legislation is needed to ensure that any use of technology is legal and affords adequate data protection.
Technology and Trafficking Victim Identification
Our work on improving the identification of trafficking victims has documented the use of technology to identify trafficking victims, such as mobile applications being used to screen for trafficking in Asia, and as a means to overcome geographical and practical barriers to identification.
Our research has also found that identification is very difficult when trafficking occurs in crisis or conflict settings. Forms of exploitation in crises often differ from established patterns, making it difficult to screen victims with existing tools and procedures. In mass migration flows, for instance, typical indicators and signals of trafficking are of variable relevance in identifying trafficked migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Screening and identification with this specific population of trafficking victims requires the development of specific tools, which do not generally exist. This could be an opportunity for technology to play a positive role.
Technology and Trafficking Victim Protection
The NEXUS Institute has pioneered the development of Directories of Services for Trafficking Victims, a vital resource for trafficking victims and their families to access the protection and assistance needed to recover and reintegrate after trafficking. A Directory of Services educates and informs trafficking victims about what constitutes trafficking in persons and exploitation, and the rights and entitlements of trafficking victims. It also provides information about the types of assistance available to trafficking victims in a specific area or country (both trafficking-specific and other types of assistance) and how trafficking victims can access this support.
In recent years, we published a Directory of Services for Indonesian Trafficking Victims. And with our sister organization The Warnath Group, we are currently working on a Directory of Services for Child Trafficking Victims in Costa Rica, through the Innovations in Addressing Child Trafficking (IACT) Program.
A Directory of Services puts critical information directly in the hands of trafficking victims, enabling them to access protection and assistance. A Directory of Services also enhances practitioner knowledge of trafficking in persons and the services available for victims. Technology plays varying roles in the development and distribution of Directories of Services, from databases of service providers to online and mobile applications to connect trafficking victims with the support and protection they need.
For this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and in partnership with the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process, we have just launched a set of publications on developing a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims, including a tool to provide practitioners with step-by-step guidance on how to design and implement a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims.
This tool includes an accompanying Microsoft Excel template in which practitioners can compile information about services to be included in the Directory of Services. A “how to” video is also available, offering clear guidance on how to design, prepare, and maintain an up-to-date Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims.
This set of tools for practitioners accompanies our series providing easy access to high quality research and guidance on victim protection that can be used in direct daily work. Recent publications (available in English, Bahasa Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Thai) focus on trafficking victim identification, trafficking victim protection and support, recovery and reintegration of trafficking victims, and special and additional measures for child trafficking victims. Forthcoming publications will cover special and additional measures for victim-witnesses and access to remedies.
This continues to be a challenging time on many levels and we remain at the forefront of efforts to determine how anti-trafficking actors can best respond to the reshaping of trafficking in persons by the global pandemic, the effects of climate change, outbreaks of violence, and assaults on human rights around the world. We appreciate the number of professionals and practitioners who have made their materials available to aid in these efforts and we wish to remind you that NEXUS publications remain free and available on our website.