Tech4Good Awards 2019

On the 17th July HTMSE attended the Tech4Good awards as a shortlisted finalist in the Community Impact Award category.The Tech4Good awards recognise the use of technology to make a social difference across a variety of different sectors, such as accessibility, connectivity, inclusivity and community impact.

Contemporary slavery is a current global issue, which directly affects even the corporate and commercial markets with the introduction of the s54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act, and similar legislation in the USA and Australia. Furthermore, the migrant crisis and forced migration has also compounded human trafficking and modern slavery, it has become an ever present issue and there has been an increase in media and public awareness on this topic. Almost 21 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, which generates  $150 billion for traffickers each year and is a growing market.

The Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery Expert Directory (HTMSE) is an e-commerce initiative founded in 2015 by leading human trafficking lawyer Philippa Southwell, after identifying a desperate need for a single resource for professionals working in the counter human trafficking and modern slavery sector. The directory is an advanced search engine established in order to link specialists not just within the UK based legal community, but to connect with lawyers, medical experts, academics and corporate stakeholders globally that can advance development on this issue, and create the link between modern slavery victims and support. This use of technology in the counter-trafficking and anti-slavery sectors is unique, with the majority of technology being used to monitor and research victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, research and monitor suspected offenders, and to provide ongoing support to law enforcement agencies.

Since its launch, the initiative has established itself as a leading global directory. It enables individuals to search for professionals by their specialist fields and location worldwide.

Climate Change and Human Trafficking

The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, has released a report warning of an impending ‘climate apartheid’. ‘Climate apartheid’ is considered to be a state of affairs that will be brought on by climate change where wealthier individuals can pay to move and avoid rising heat and hunger, leaving poorer communities behind. This issue has been described as posing a great threat to human rights and the rule of law, in particular such a state of affairs may contribute to an increase in human trafficking.

The conditions for human trafficking can be generated effectively by natural disasters. Specifically natural disasters create conditions where individuals are vulnerable, and whilst these vulnerabilities may be linked to a variety of different factors one of the most significant is homelessness (See HTMSE’s blog on Human Trafficking and Homelessness here). The International Organisation for Migration has identified a particular nexus that exists between human trafficking and climate change. In particular, the increased risk of natural disasters posed by climate change, as well as the social strain caused by climate change which can lead to conflict, poverty, and instability, tends to a more general possibility that climate change may be a major contributor to increases in human trafficking in the near future. However, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) states that the overlap between human trafficking and climate change is largely un-researched and scholarship on this topic is limited. Drawing on practitioner reports and available research the IOM describes the impact of sudden and slow onset natural disasters on the risk of human trafficking. Sudden natural disasters were identified as driving an irregular pattern of migration as individuals attempt to leave the affected zone and trafficking from refugee camps set up in response to the situation. Slow onset disasters, such as coastal erosion or repeated droughts damaging arable land, also drives the risk of human trafficking by increasing outmigration, increasing poverty, and potentially unemployment. It is these slow onset disasters in particular that may fuel a situation similar to that of ‘climate apartheid’.

Given that ‘climate apartheid’ will be generated by those with means leaving areas that are slowly rendered inhospitable by climate change it is apparent that measures are required to limit the risks of human trafficking and other human rights abuses. NGO’s have suggested that long-term recovery strategies for sudden natural disasters, such as hurricanes, should incorporate plans to address the increased risk of human trafficking. The IOM similarly advocates that with slow onset disasters long term plans for tackling the issues of climate change should also address the changes to social environments that are conducive to human trafficking. Similarly, efforts addressing human trafficking ought to also account for potential changes in the social environment that may be effected by climate change.

Overall it appears likely that the social impacts of climate change could lead to an increased risk of human trafficking and modern slavery, particularly in areas where climate change causes natural disasters. However, in both slow onset and sudden natural disasters it is possible to mitigate the increased risk of human trafficking by ensuring effective recovery and law enforcement practices are built into long term strategies.

Organised Crime, Modern Slavery and Waste Management

The waste management industry has been receiving increasing attention as a sector at high risk of modern slavery, with figures from the anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice suggesting about two thirds of forced labour victims have worked in the waste management sector.  The waste management sector is a multi-tiered industry with many complex supply chain networks. This complex network of supply chains makes it easy for individuals to be filtered into the system for the purposes of labour exploitation.  Such an accessible system has made the waste management industry very attractive to organised crime groups, with many groups operating in the sector also involved with other major criminal enterprises such as human trafficking, county lines drugs operations and arms offences.

Organised crime is often associated with grand ‘mafia-esque’ organisational structures, but these traditional organised crime groups are giving way to more dynamic fragmented groups that operate more fluidly. In May 2019 the National Crime Agency (NCA) released organised crime figures that suggested that the number of offenders involved in organised crime in the United Kingdom was approximately 181,000 , though this is considered a conservative estimate. As part of the same press release the NCA released its national strategic assessment for 2019 which discussed the changing face of organised crime and outlines the rise in modern slavery and human trafficking referrals. Public awareness of organised crime has risen recently with several high profile reports of prosecutions and police operations to tackle gangs and organised crime groups operating across county lines. However, whilst public awareness of organised crime and modern slavery is rising it does not seem that there is any widespread awareness of how these issues impact the waste management sector.

In 2018 the government published a review of serious organised waste crime, which outlined how organised crime groups would often “colonise” pre-existing legitimate waste markets. These criminal operations would often then function through other criminal enterprises, including modern slavery and human trafficking. In response to the issues of organised crime and modern slavery in the waste sector the Environment Agency committed to taking new measures to tackle these issues. Some of these responses have included increasing inter-agency collaboration to ensure that investigations and operations carry a bigger impact against organised crime, and specially training officers to spot the signs of modern slavery. Whilst public awareness of waste crime and modern slavery in the waste sector such measures by law enforcement and government bodies signal a firm awareness of serious and major criminal activity in the waste management sector, and a commitment to addressing these issues.

Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 Released

Independent Review Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 has was published this week on the 22nd May 2019. The review has identified eighty recommendations for improvements to the operation of the act and wider policies to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in the United Kingdom. The review makes significant recommendations for how legislation should be amended to increase compliance by businesses and improve supply chain transparency, including:

  • Recommendation 25: Failure to fulfil modern slavery statement reporting requirements or to act when instances of slavery are found should be an offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
  • Recommendation 22: The legislation should be amended to require companies to consider the entirety of their supply chains [in respect of modern slavery]. If a company has not done so, it should be required to explain why it has not and what steps it is going to take in the future.
  • Recommendation 18: In section 54(5) ‘may’ should be changed to ‘must’ or ‘shall’, with the effect that the six areas set out as areas that an organisation’s statement may cover will become mandatory. If a company determines that one of the headings is not applicable to their business, it should be required to explain why.
  • Recommendation 32: Section 54 should be extended to the public sector. Government departments should publish a [modern slavery] statement at the end of the financial year, approved by the Department’s board and signed by the Permanent Secretary as Accounting Officer. Local government, agencies and other public authorities should publish a statement if their annual budget exceeds £36 million.

The recommendations would significantly increase the responsibility on businesses to address anti-slavery in their supply chains, and afford the government greater power to punish companies that do not comply.

The full report can be found here.

The Rise of Technological Responses to Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Technology and Human Trafficking

Technology, and in particular mobile applications, is being increasingly identified as an important method of tackling modern slavery and human trafficking. Mobile applications have recently been responsible for the identification of nearly 1000 cases of modern slavery in car washes around the country. With the release of the Modern Slavery Helpline annual report for 2018, which recorded approximately 1 in 7 reports were made by webform submissions or through the Unseen App, it is clear that there is a rising awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK and a significant proportion of reports are made through technological methods.

However, mobile applications are not the only technologies being identified and implemented to help tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. So far in 2019 there have been several reports of new implementations of technology to combat modern slavery and human trafficking. For example, satellite imaging being recently used in a study by Nottingham University to accurately map the number of brick kilns in India. Brick kilns in India, which are associated with the exploitation of labourers through forced labour and debt bondage, exhibit unique features that can be mapped by satellite imaging and it is hoped that other industries associated with modern slavery may be vulnerable to satellite imaging too; scaling this use of technology into a major method of tackling modern slavery in remote areas. By contrast, algorithms that measure activity against a set of variables have been piloted by banks in the Netherlands to identify unusual behaviour that may be indicative of human trafficking or modern slavery.

However, whilst the use of technology to combat human trafficking and modern slavery is advancing in new directions and receiving high profile acclaim concerns have been raised that technology merely constitutes a tool and its use alone may not be enough. TechUK, an organisation responsible for representing approximately 900 companies that develop technology, has raised concerns that for technological tools to be truly effective corporations need to ensure they have a strong anti-slavery culture with a willingness to act. Whilst strong corporate and social anti-slavery cultures are vital, the development of technological tools and processes to target human trafficking and modern slavery demonstrate positive commitments by a wide range of actors to tackling these issues. Many of these technological developments are recognised as new and as these tools are refined it is quite possible that technology will take play a greater role in combating human trafficking and modern slavery.

From stadium construction to the games themselves: human trafficking and modern slavery is prevalent in the sporting sector

 

Sport can provide the context for human trafficking

When the words ‘sport’ and ‘human trafficking’ are put together it immediately conjures images of the use of forced labour to construct stadiums or work as hospitality staff at events, or even trafficked sex workers being exploited by organised criminals to make an income on the vast number of people gathering in a particular area. However, human trafficking can be found in other areas of sport also; trafficking of athletes.

Media reports often discuss the issue of trafficking athletes with respect to young boys being trafficked from Africa with the promise of a successful football career. Reports from 2018 placed the value of European football at over 20 billion Euros, with English teams accounting for almost a quarter of this, making it an incredibly alluring industry for those in poverty elsewhere in the world. The victims are often forced to pay a large sum up front before being transported to another country. The end countries are often far away from the major European stadiums that were promised, the destinations often including countries such as Nepal for the ease of acquiring visas. Whilst these issues are often discussed in relation to the football industry, it is in no way limited to football, and can be found in track and field sports, hockey, and camel racing in the Middle East.

A useful distinction when discussing athlete trafficking, and in particular trafficking in the football industry, is the difference between trafficking in football/sport and trafficking through football/sport. This distinction was introduced by Poli (2010, Cited by Esson and Drywood) as follows:

  1. Trafficking in football/sport: The individual is moved to the a destination country where they have their money and documents confiscated and controlled. They may be forced to sign an exploitative contract which is then further used to control them.
  2. Trafficking through football/sport: The individual is drawn into paying for transport to a foreign country with the allure of a promising career, though upon arrival they are abandoned.

Generally, most of the recent media cases related to athlete trafficking fit within one of these two distinctions. Whether there is an exploitative contract at the destination or not. However, some criticism of the second category, trafficking through sport, has arisen as to whether the abandonment in the destination country constitutes exploitation for the purposes of the UN definition of human trafficking.

Outside of the illegal exploitation of vulnerable young people from economically deprived backgrounds there have been criticisms of legitimate bodies acting either just outside, or within the deliberately ‘grey’ area of, the rules. These concerns particularly arise over the international transfer of young people between sporting clubs, which under the right conditions could amount to human trafficking, and there have been several high profile cases involving the ‘sale’ of children in a sporting context for the purpose of sexual exploitation. However, the market demands of these usual industry practices has raised concerns that they may operate contrary to the best interests of the children involved more generally. In the context of football, despite the introduction of regulations targeting the international transfer of child players to limit potential cases of trafficking, there have been continued instances of international transfers of children. International transfers, though not always constituting human trafficking, can treat children as commercial commodities. Consequently, these practices are not in the children’s best interests or welfare, especially when considered in respect of the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child. Since these practices are more likely to occur within major legitimate corporate structures, and possibly even within a regulatory framework, isolating instances of human trafficking may be much harder than the cases involving debt bondage and agreements made on false promises

With trafficking of athletes increasingly in the spotlight there has been some criticism of the labour practices involving young athletes taking college sporting scholarships. College sports scholarships have in some ways been likened to modern slavery practices, with athletes being paid what amounts to a very low hourly rate for many hours of their time training and competing. Furthermore, the necessity of their scholarship to their future—many of these athletes coming from more deprived backgrounds— and strict requirements of amateurism can lead to excessive measures of control by scholarship funders and little opportunity for the players to leave their contracts. However, it is unclear from current reporting on the issue whether the exact conditions college sports scholars are under constitute coercion sufficient to amount to modern slavery.

Overall, it is clear that there are many different ways in which human trafficking can manifest in the context of sport. Though there has been no discussion of the links between forced labour, construction, and major sporting events, or the links between sporting events and sexual exploitation, these are important issues to account for. When forced labour and sexual exploitation are also included it is clear that the sporting sector is one at high risk of human trafficking and modern slavery. The conditions for human trafficking can occur under the traditional ‘push and pull’ of economic deprivation and a ‘way out’ and appear congruent with traditional concepts of human trafficking. But human trafficking in sport can also occur within the legitimate structures of sports player transfers, particularly transfers of children, without proper safeguards for their welfare and best interests.

Modern Slavery Act 2018- What does it do?

Australia_Parliament_House_Lauri_Vain
Photo Credit: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; Lauri Väin

New Modern Slavery Act 2018 in Australia introduces strict reporting requirements for businesses among other key objectives.

There has been significant interest recently over the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (MSA) in Australia, and its likely coming into force in early 2019. The act will carry with it significant thresholds for businesses to meet in terms of reporting requirements. But what is the new act?

Section 3 (Part 1) of the MSA 2018 details the main objectives of the act are to:

  • Combat modern slavery,
  • Provide assistance and support for victims,
  • Establish an Anti-Slavery Commissioner,
  • Provide for detection and exposure of modern slavery,
  • Raise community awareness and provide education on modern slavery,
  • Encourage collaborative cross-sector and multi-agency responses,
  • Introduce provisions for the ongoing assessment of anti-slavery laws,
  • Criminalise forced marriage,
  • and, penalise further involvement in cybersex trafficking and CSE.

 

Statistically reports of  modern slavery in Australia are low in comparison to other countries, but there are concerns this is because of a lack of awareness on the matter. As part of this, there are concerns that businesses are not fully aware of the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains. Part of the act focuses on supply chain transparency, and appears to be heavily oriented towards tackling these issues. The focus on business accountability and corporate supply chains suggests a main focus on forced labour, which is not unsurprising given forced labour accounted for approximately half of all modern slavery cases in the ILO’s 2016 statistics. However, the objective statements of the act regarding forced marriage and child exploitation demonstrate the wide reaching and comprehensive aims of the act to eradicate modern slavery in all forms.

A link to the act itself can be found here.

New article considers modern slavery to be a public health concern: but how has the healthcare sector approached the problem?

Healthcare responses to human trafficking

On the 26th February 2019 the British Medical Journal published an article entitled ‘Modern Slavery: A Global Public Health Concern‘ that identified that “health professionals are well placed to identify and advocate for victims“. This article analyses some of the current health care responses to modern slavery and which health care professionals can help provide a comprehensive response.
In 2012 the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a document on human trafficking that addressed some of the public health concerns of human trafficking, highlighting that:

… evidence on health and human trafficking is extremely limited…” (p.2)

The document noted that most of the 16 studies consulted had focused on sex trafficking with only two that looked at forced labour, overall recommending that health care providers increased their capacity to identify and respond to human trafficking, and that urgent research needed to be done on modern slavery and trafficking in men so that more comprehensive responses could be made.
Since 2012, medical authorities and institutions, such as the Royal College of Nursing and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have incorporated a number of policies, documents, and professional resources to help identify and appropriately categorise instances of human trafficking and modern slavery. The WHO authorised an adaption of the ICD-10 for use by the US government, and it is this tool that the CDC have added new codes to for the purposes of reporting suspected cases and examination and observation of victims of trafficking.
It is well recognised now that medical and health professionals play a key role in targeting human trafficking and modern slavery, and organisations such as HEAL have released a variety of training resources and toolkits to help different health professionals in responding to human trafficking. These health professionals can be drawn from any health sector, including counsellors and psychologists, doctors, nurses, first responders, dentists and many others. These key moves towards mobilising the healthcare sector in combating human trafficking and modern slavery represent a significant addition to the global effort to eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking; which effects an estimated 40 million people globally. Multi agency and cross sector responses, from active investigations to supporting survivors, is vital to an effective and comprehensive response to such a major humanitarian crisis. The trend of increasing awareness and active responses in the healthcare sector adds a significant dimension to global anti-trafficking and anti-slavery efforts.

Access to the articles can be found here. The full article citation is:

Such, E., Walton, E., Bonvoisin, T. and Stoklosa, H. (2019) Modern Slavery: A Global Public Health Concern. British Medical Journal. 364, p.1838.

Victims of modern slavery at risk of homelessness – Homeless at risk of becoming victims of modern slavery

Homelessness and Destitution
A
Significant links can be found between modern slavery, human trafficking and homelessness. In 2017 the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner‘s Office published a report entitled ‘Understanding and Responding to Modern Slavery within the Homelessness Sector’, which followed a 2016 exploratory survey conducted in conjunction with the homelessness charity ‘The Passage‘. The main findings, which have since been re-published in The Passage’s 2018 Anti-Slavery Handbook, primarily suggested that those who are homeless and destitute are at significant risk of exploitation, and those victims of slavery are at risk of becoming homeless without proper provision of long term support strategies; accommodation has been identified as one of the most pressing provisions required for victims of modern slavery by other homelessness charities.
 A
The report found that:
 A
“… the majority of homelessness organisations (64% of survey respondents) have, to varying degrees, encountered potential cases of modern slavery…” (p.10)
   
And that whilst there is a degree of recording and there is certainly some awareness of the problem:
 A
 …data on the numbers of potential victims of modern slavery [within the homelessness sector] is lacking or unreliable. This is either a result of a lack of recording or of a lack of information” (p. 10)
   A
Aside from the issues in reporting, which were noted as needing improvement in their accuracy and reliability, there was a clear need from the report that greater co-operation was required across different agencies to comprehensively tackle the two overlapping issues. One of the current issues noted by the report is that the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) required reports to come from a designated first responder, which most homelessness charities are not. This causes unnecessary delays, as noted by the report, and clearly demonstrates the need for multi-agency responses, or reforms to the NRM so that a broader spectrum of organisations may act as first responders for a crime that can effect anyone from any background.
 A
Since the report there have been a variety of handbooks and advice documents produced specifically targeting the issue of homelessness and modern slavery;  from both Non Governmental and Governmental organisations, for a wide range of groups and organisations that may come across modern slavery in the homelessness sector, targeting both homelessness resulting from modern slavery or slavery resulting from homelessness.
 A
Given the vulnerability of homeless individuals becoming victims of modern slavery, and the risk of slavery victims becoming homeless, the importance of multi-agency responses to both issues to avoid situations where individuals undergo continual cycles of exploitation is clear.  As such, more research into the overlap between homelessness and modern slavery, both in terms of the nature and extent of the overlap and the effectiveness of responses, is greatly required.
 A

A

Links to the full report and a short summary of the findings can be found on our e-learning page here.

Europol’s Role in Combating Child Trafficking

Europol plays a critical role in combating crime rings within Europe through international cooperation. It provides a centre for law enforcement expertise and international data exchange. Combating human trafficking is one of its five core security priorities, with an aim to disrupt organised crime groups involved in the trafficking of people in and out of the EU. Trafficking is often disguised by legal business structures that directly or indirectly facilitate exploitation. The report, Criminal Networks Involved in the Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in the European Union analyses data from Europol’s 2015 – 2017 findings in relation to child trafficking.

Although a wide demographic is affected by human trafficking, minors are the most extremely vulnerable sector of society. Children are often lured into sexual, labour or other forms of exploitation, and as a result suffer severe physical and psychological damage.

Unaccompanied minors that may be in the process of migration or orphans, are common trafficking victims that need protection from state and law enforcement actors. However one of the most concerning complexities within the regulation of child trafficking, is the role of families in facilitating the sale or exploitation of their own children. The ‘private’ nature of families forms a protective shield against reporting or disclosure of the child’s wellbeing.

In a similar respect, legal businesses such as brothels, red light districts, sex clubs, within some EU states facilitate the exploitation of minor victims. However recruitment processes are shifting, with the use of online advertisement of sexual services being used as a major platform for the exploitation of children, whereby they are ‘sold’ as adults. Cyber security is another core sector of focus for Europol that intercepts with the issue of child trafficking.

Document and identity fraud for fake identification of minors is a core component of child trafficking to conceal the minor’s real age. In tracing the international movement of victims and traffickers, Europol plays a key role working between EU states to intercept organised crime gangs working internationally.

It is clear that Europol’s role in EU state to state data sharing and law enforcement cooperation is critical. The consequences of Brexit must be considered in terms of regulating international security threats. The UK is the second largest contributor to Europol’s information systems, and currently leads the teams on human trafficking and modern slavery. Ceasing the UK’s involvement in Europol’s affairs may have downstream effects on the capacity to respond effectively to such issues.