Human trafficking constitutes a modern form of slavery denying people their dignity and basic rights. It is a crime that knows no borders, affecting people of all ages and regions throughout the world.
In the eyes of organized-crime networks, victims of this crime are a commodity for economic profit, to be exploited and sold. Such networks make large profits through human trafficking as they subject their victims to mental and physical abuse.
Trafficking can take on many forms. Its constant feature, however, is the exploitation of vulnerabilities. Examples include, among others, cases of labor exploitation in areas like construction, fishing and agriculture; forced criminality, sexual exploitation and organ removal.
For this year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons, annually held on 30 July, INTERPOL sheds light on its work combatting this crime. This year’s focus is on the role of technology as a tool that can both facilitate and impede human trafficking.
“Traffickers are recruiting, transporting, harboring and exploiting victims abusing a wide diversity of technology platforms. These platforms allow traffickers to reach a larger number of potential victims in any region in the world. “ Isaac Espinosa Delgado, Acting Coordinator, Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants Unit
“Global Law Enforcement must stay vigilant, work together, and leverage that same technology to prevent and disrupt this serious transgression to human rights” Mr Espinosa added.
Although human trafficking is predominantly a domestic crime, data shows that international human trafficking is commonly organized by criminal networks often involved in other serious crimes whose victims are trafficked for longer periods and with more violence.
Through regional and global operations, INTERPOL is helping law enforcement dismantle these criminal networks by promoting international police cooperation and the use of INTERPOL policing capabilities. By engaging in these operations, member countries work in close partnership on ongoing criminal investigations, strengthening their controls to identify victims of trafficking in borders and hotspots for this criminal activity.
Operation WEKA II
Last month, INTERPOL-coordinated police actions mobilized 44 countries across four continents. Amongst the operation’s outcomes were the rescue and safeguarding of nearly 700 human trafficking victims and the arrest of 300 suspected traffickers and migrant smugglers.
Significantly, in the aftermath of this operation, police in Togo were able to locate a teenage girl trafficked from Burkina Faso. The INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Lomé was able to trace the location where the girl was held captive in Togo, rescuing her and reuniting her with her family.
Operation Storm Makers
As part of Operation Storm Makers (March 2022), authorities successfully dismantled organized crime groups believed to be facilitating the travel of Asian men, women and children across borders for exploitation. Throughout the operation, authorities rescued and assisted 80 human trafficking victims, arrested 121 suspects and opened 193 new investigations.
Activities are carried out with a victim-centric approach, emphasizing the importance of victims’ safety and wellbeing, and access to care following their rescue, to promote recovery and prevent further trauma.