For two days, some 50 specialist police, prosecutors and cybercrime experts from across South America will gather in Buenos Aires, Argentina to share experiences along with key international experts, including representatives from Facebook, the Polaris Project, the Technology and Human Trafficking Project, and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“We’re increasingly hearing about social media in the context of our counter-trafficking work,” explains IOM Regional Counter-Trafficking Specialist Rosilyne Borland. “Not only is recruitment taking place online, but we have also had cases where victims of trafficking contacted us through Facebook, and we were able to coordinate with local police to help them,” she notes.
While global statistics on the links between new technologies and trafficking in persons are not available, police and case workers say that traffickers increasingly use technology to recruit and even to control their victims.
Some counter-trafficking organizations, like the US-based Polaris Project, use technology to help identify victims, through a text-based counter-trafficking hotline. Police and investigators have also been able to use social media to track networks involved in trafficking.
“New technology is not just for traffickers – our goal is to find ways to better use these tools to fight human trafficking. Not just through prevention and information sharing, but also to better locate and help victims, and to build criminal cases against the criminals,” says Borland.
Since the early 1990s, IOM has assisted more than 65,000 men, women, girls and boys trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation, as part of more than 1,000 counter-trafficking projects in over 100 countries.
Human traffickers prey on people searching for opportunities, striving to pay their debts, to improve their lives, to feed their children or care for their parents. Many of these criminal organizations recruit potential victims through false offers of work abroad. In today’s connected world, much of that recruitment is taking place online.
Trafficking in persons is an organized crime, and as such has always had links with cybercrime, such as in the case of money laundering. But only recently has the counter-trafficking community begun to look at how new technologies, such as social media, can be used to identify and protect victims, and to support law enforcement investigations.
The exploratory workshop is taking place August 28 and 29, and is being organized in the context of the INTERPOL South American Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, as part of ongoing collaboration between IOM and INTERPOL globally.
For more information, please contact
IOM Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (9) 11 5219 2033/2034/2035 ext. 11
Posted on Tue, Aug-26-2014