In 2016, 37,550 Nigerians migrated to Italy, and many more unaccounted for did not survive the journey. As the number of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe increases and anti-immigration pressure is growing in Europe, more and more migrants are pushed to take illegal and high risk means. Often without much knowledge of the situations migrants are getting themselves into, they put themselves or their families at extreme risk of human trafficking, exploitation, immigration detention, sexual abuse, as well as physical dangers such as dying at sea.
Financial control is an ever growing control mechanism of exploitation in modern societies. This may manifest in the form of debt bondage, where individuals or families give all their money or sell their assets to receive a false service or unjust return on their investment, either by deceit or out of desperation. This form of debt bondage is designed to be a life sentence and impossible to get out of due to the crippling interest rates, hence individuals must keep on working for free to ‘pay it off’. Forms of financial control are commonly being used to keep people in captivity by fraudulent trafficking and exploitation perpetrators. They may inflict on their workers undue or unreasonable fines, they may withhold their earnings, and or set up bank accounts which the worker cannot access often by taking advantage of language barriers. Many cases of this can be seen of Eastern Europeans having being trafficked to the UK and exploited for no or little wage, such as in the waste processing and construction sector.
Modern slavery is an issue that takes many forms of exploitation where control mechanisms and tools of manipulation are constantly changing and evolving as legislations and sanctions tighten within each contexts. In order to address this, it is important look beyond the obvious signs of physical control to collect vast and accurate data to protect future vulnerable victims of exploitation.
The UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA have made progress in the movement to expel modern slavery and labour exploitation from global supply chains.
These five partner countries have created a set of 4 principles designed for nations all over the world to adopt, in order to promote ethical supply chain compliance within their jurisdictions. The principles are aimed at policy level, addressing both public and private sector procurement, supply chains, recruitment and encourages the need for cooperation between such actors.
The four principles are as follows:
Governments should take steps to prevent and address human trafficking in government procurement practices
analyse, develop and implement measures to identify, prevent and reduce the risk of human trafficking in government procurement supply chains
provide tools and incentives and adopt risk assessment policies and procedures that require their procurement officers and contractors to assess the nature and extent of potential exposure to human trafficking in their supply chains
take targeted action, including adopting appropriate due diligence processes, to identify, prevent, mitigate, remedy, and account on how they address human trafficking
Governments should encourage the private sector to prevent and address human trafficking in its supply chains
work in partnership with business, workers and survivors to set clear expectations for private sector entities on their responsibility to conduct appropriate due diligence in their supply chains to identify, prevent and mitigate human trafficking
provide tools and incentives to the private sector to encourage meaningful action and public reporting of their efforts, including through programmes policies or legislation
Governments should advance responsible recruitment policies and practices
advance responsible recruitment practices, including by implementing polices that incentivise and support responsible practice, and by support initiatives such as the ‘Employer Pays Principle’
contribute to the growing knowledge base of promising practices for protecting workers from fraud and exploitation in the recruitment process
Governments should strive for harmonisation
make reasonable efforts to share information and work with other committed governments to align existing and proposed laws, regulations and polices to combat human trafficking in global supply chains
The UK, leading global efforts in anti-slavery policy, is encouraging governments at the UN General Assembly to adopt these principles. By leveraging the combined $600 billion purchasing power of the partnered nations there is the capital to influence high-level actors in both public and private sectors.
The principles provide a clear and progressive framework for cooperating governments to aim towards. The major drawback, however, is the lack of enforcement of these principles, which in many instances is controlled by legislation. However, for these principles to be effective in practice rather than theory, strict and coherent sanctions are critical. The further challenge is to address cross border transactions, and encourage non-cooperative countries that produce the majority of global slavery statistics to adopt and enforce such principles.
Along with the progress seen in the UK’s legislative framework around human trafficking and modern slavery, there is growing public awareness of the issue. In order for the justice system to work effectively to intercept traffickers, there is demand for the public to be educated on signs of labour abuse, and to work with authorities to report it.
Unfortunately, once a potential victim is identified, it is not a simple process to restore their freedom. Due to the nature of their mental ‘conditioning’ by the traffickers, Stockholm Syndrome poses a major issue for authorities. If victims do not know they are being exploited or understand their situation, in many cases they are fearful of authorities and will resist cooperation. Spot the Signs highlights the irrelevance of the victim’s “consent” if they are “controlled by force, threats, coercion, abduction, fraud and deception” as it constitutes control over another person. For example, in the Bath case, one of the victims ran away from their foster home to their traffickers within days of release. This is where a victim centred approach, particularly in language services, is critical to consider right from the beginning in the identification of potential victims, and on going in order to ensure successful rehabilitation.
Although the public may not wish to become involved in a case, it is their civic duty if they witness or have suspicion of labour exploitation, to report it. In order to encourage the reporting of modern slavery suspicions, authorities should safeguard interests by maintaining anonymity and providing comprehensive, simple reporting methods. Educating the public on the signs of modern slavery within their workplace or community is key to identification and active public cooperation to combat labour abuses.
New statistics report that over a third of rescued modern slavery victims in the UK have, at some point over the course of their exploitation, been used for labour at waste or recycling processing plants. This work involves long strenuous hours in harsh, dirty environments, ‘picking’ and sorting materials that come into the depot. These cases highlight the recycling industry as one of the increasing target points for human traffickers, where the victims maybe moved between known industries such as car washes and factory work.
The NCA has recorded 1,631 referrals of modern slavery in the first 3 months of 2018. There is growing awareness around the waste industry as a key sector for the skills and labour sets of human trafficking victims. These findings point to the need for tightening of regulation around waste and recycling supply chains, particularly those attached to local government. As a government utility, it is critical that waste collection and treatment systems do not facilitate modern slavery. The private sector waste companies need assessment around the UK’s Modern Slavery legalisation.
The UNHCR, OECD and other international agencies are working on an ‘Action Plan’ to overcome the issue of refugee employment. This plan aims to integrate refugees into the labour market by overcoming the issues and creating a strategy to identify the skills that can actively contribute to the economy of the host nation.
Through research and interviews, having secure and safe employment is the top contributor to integration in a new society, which protects them from the potential for labour exploitation. Although each host destination has subjective conditions and labour requirements, the action plan is a holistic and broad framework composed of 10 steps:
Action 1 – Navigate the administrative framework
Action 2 – Provide employers with sufficient legal certainty
Action 3 – Identify and verify refugees’ skills
Action 4 – Developing skills for job-readiness
Action 5 – Match refugee talent with employers’ needs
Action 6 – Provide equal opportunities in recruitment and combat stereotypes
Action 7 – Prepare the working environment
Action 8 – Enable long-term employability
Action 9 – Make the business case for hiring refugees
Action 10 – Coordinate actions between all stakeholders
Whether in refuge from conflict, environmental or economic hardship, 65 million people globally have been forcibly displaced from their homes, of which refugees make up 25.5 million. Due to the nature of globalisation, these rates are increasing, along with the frequency and types of labour exploitation of refugees and vulnerable populations.
In the development CSR, rights observers have understood that corporate interests generally outweigh the voluntary demand for an ethical and socially responsible supply chain. There are various examples of CSR that have developed, which compels corporations to comply with legal standards. For example the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 that that dictates national legal standards, which requires corporations to publish the steps they are taking to ensure their supply chains and free of modern slavery, child labour, human trafficking. This regulation applies both domestically and for international sourcing, in which certain export standards of mandatory social compliance are placed onto developing countries with cheap labour. The California Transparency in Supply Chain Act (CTSCA) 2010 operates similar obligations but working at state level. The Indian Companies Act (2013) compels Indian corporations to spend 2% of their pre-tax profit on CSR.
How Child Rights fit into CSR
Although such legislation is aimed more broadly at achieving supply chain transparency, upholding child rights is a key element of this. Specifically, there is a set of 10 Child Rights and Business Principles as outlined by Save the Children, the UN Global Compact and UNICEF, which give a comprehensive yet non-exhaustive list of CSR requirements in relation to child rights. Corporations must:
Meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights and commit to supporting the human rights of children
Contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and business relationships
Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers
Ensure the protection and safety of children in all business activities and facilities
Ensure that products and services are safe, and seek to support children’s rights through them
Use marketing and advertising that respect and support children’s rights
Respect and support children’s rights in relation to the environment and to land acquisition and use
Respect and support children’s rights in security arrangements
Help protect children affected by emergencies
Reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfil children’s rights
The focus of CSR towards children aims to eliminate child labour from supply chains, but also must take the nuanced approach which includes protecting the rights of children in their core business strategy, covering all operations, employee rights, marketing, and delivery of products and services.
In parallel to the transatlantic slave trade as one of the most profitable business ventures in global history, modern slavery in the form of human trafficking follows suit. The International Labour Organisation estimates human trafficking derives USD 150.2 billion per year, making it still one of the most profitable criminal ventures worldwide. Furthermore, in an environment of globalisation it is rapidly increasing in numbers and in typologies. The rise in displacement and movement of people, whether in refuge from conflict zones, economic or environmental migration means there is increased vulnerability to trafficking, and in turn, more revenue produced by trafficking rings.
The report divides human trafficking into three categories in which revenue is produced through very unique money laundering systems. Firstly, trafficking for forced labour produces USD 51.2 billion per year, of which USD 43.40 billion is generated by hard labour exploitation, and USD 7.9 billion produced through domestic servitude. Second, trafficking for forced sexual exploitation produces USD 99 billion. Third, organ removal produces between USD 600 million – 1.2 billion, however the report refrains from providing a defined figure because the crime is rarely done in isolation, and therefore overlaps with other crimes which clouds the figures.
On analysis, the conclusions of this report put significant weight on the need for cooperation between international, state and regional authorities to work together in combatting financial flows from human trafficking. However, there are many challenges and complexities including the corruption of state actors that contribute to the global trafficking systems and obscure the financial figures recorded, including which revenue streams are being used for terror funding. The international institutions such as FATF need to work closely with governments to systematically identify and analyse this. By nature of the black market, accurate figures are impossible to find which inhibits the capacity of national authorities, financial institutions, NGOs and actors to prioritise responses to human trafficking in its various forms. Yet as we further understand the finances of the crime, we are able to respond with effective measures of prevention and resolution.
According to reports by trafficking survivors, many entered the healthcare system at some point during their process of exploitation. A survey in 2014 suggested 88/100 of the sex trafficking victims came into contact with an emergency healthcare department. These scenarios are critical opportunities that are missed if healthcare staff are not trained to identify victims of trafficking. However, this is not a simple or obvious process, as many of victims face difficult situations. They may not be open with the professionals if they have self doubt or are not yet aware they are being exploited, they are afraid of the repercussions of giving information regarding their situation, or they are accompanied by a supervisor to prevent details being communicated to authorities.
To deal with such situations, training is given to doctors, nurses but also a wider circle of healthcare providers that have come into contact with victims, including social workers, security guards and receptionists. These employees have the capacity to intercept victims, spot the important indicators, such as if the healthcare needed has been put off for several weeks, to spot inconsistencies in information or repeat injuries. They will then ask a number of leading questions to encourage victims to receive help. These questions may entail whether the patient “has ever had sex for money” or “whether they give someone else part of what they earn”.
Dignity Health has human trafficking program in over 40 hospitals in the USA, in which the core goals “are to ensure that trafficked persons are identified in the health care setting and that they are appropriately assisted with victim-centered, trauma-informed care and services”. They are “implemented first in Dignity Health emergency departments, followed by labour & delivery and postpartum departments”. In particular, there is a new diagnostic tool that can be used to identify and record umbers of trafficking against other abuse victims.
The UK are also developing systems to address the role of healthcare in trafficking survivors. The NHS Human Trafficking e-Learning Tool assists in identification and care of trafficking victims. It is aimed to train healthcare staff by outlining various scenarios of trafficking and how to appropriately cover the legal rights to medical care of trafficking victims. The aim is to inform and prepare front line staff to provide thorough support when confronted with cases of human trafficking.
The International Organisation for Migration and UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking also provide guidance on recommendations for victim care within all jurisdictions. They provide the report Caring for Trafficked Persons: A Guide for Health Providers in which they suggest careful treatment from healthcare providers can be fundamental in the recovery of abused and traumatised victims. It aims to provide guidance in recognising the common health problems and diagnosis associated with trafficking and the most safe and appropriate way to undergo treatments.
It is clear that the healthcare system plays a fundamental role in both human trafficking identification, as well as on going survivor support. The issue is unfortunately, if victims are not willing to give up information then there’s little support healthcare providers can give, hence, the way in which victims are spoken to and dealt with must be in careful and diligent manor after going through specialist training.
Behind drug trafficking, human trafficking is one of the most profitable criminal networks where millions of vulnerable people are forced, manipulated or coerced into moving to a foreign destination, whereby they will endure exploitation at some point along their path. This may take the form of hard labour, sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced criminality, organ removal or ever developing forms of exploitation, for example skin removal, online pornography, and exploitation in the sports industry.
The International Labour Organisation reports that 21 million people are subject to forced labour globally, of which a large proportion have been trafficked. Women and girls make up around 70%, and children or minors make up 30% of all trafficking victims. Hence, the focus for World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018 is on ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ as announced by the UNODC. The aim is on prevention, education, support and justice for the child victims of trafficking.
In order for this movement to be most effective, professionals within the fields of human trafficking and modern slavery need to work together, pool resources, expertise and specialism. The HTMSE directory is a global platform that lists professionals in the fields of law, trafficking and country experts, medical experts, counsellors and therapists, specialist organisations and researchers who are working towards the same goal of eradicating exploitation, trafficking and slavery. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018, we welcome you to join our initiative or use the resource in your fight against human trafficking alongside our professional network, to achieve support and justice for victims of trafficking.