Human Trafficking

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The Palermo Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (2000) defines human trafficking as follows:

"Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."

From this extract the three key elements which have to be present in a case of human trafficking to satisfy this definition are:

The Act (what is done)
Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons

The Means (how it is done)
Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, deception, fraud, abuse of power etc

The Purpose (why it is done)
Type of exploitation

Click here for information for victims of human trafficking, including support organisations.

General Indicators

Trafficking victims are often lured into another country by false promises and so may not easily trust others. They may:

  • Be fearful of police/authorities
  • Be fearful of the trafficker, believing their lives or family members' lives are at risk if they escape
  • Exhibit signs of physical and psychological trauma e.g. anxiety, lack of memory of recent events, bruising, untreated conditions
  • Be fearful of telling others about their situation
  • Be unaware they have been trafficked and believe they are simply in a bad job
  • Have limited freedom of movement
  • Be unpaid or paid very little
  • Have limited access to medical care
  • Seem to be in debt to someone
  • Have no passport or mention that someone else is holding their passport
  • Be regularly moved to avoid detection
  • Be controlled by use of witchcraft e.g. Ju Ju

Sexual Exploitation

Be aware: ordinary residential housing/hotels are being used more and more for brothels. People forced into sexual exploitation may:

  • Be moved between brothels, sometimes from city to city
  • Sleeping on work premises
  • Display a limited amount of clothing, of which a large proportion is sexual
  • Display substance misuse
  • Be forced, intimidated or coerced into providing sexual services
  • Be subjected to abduction, assault or rape
  • Be unable to travel freely e.g. picked up and dropped off at work location by another person
  • Have money for their services provided collected by another person

Forced Labour

Where all the work is done under the menace of a penalty or the person has not offered himself voluntarily and is now unable to leave. They may experience:

  • Threat or actual physical harm
  • Restriction of movement or confinement
  • Debt bondage i.e. working to pay off a debt or loan, often the victim is paid very little or nothing at all for their services because of deductions
  • Withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions
  • Withholding of documents e.g. passport/security card
  • Threat of revealing to authorities an irregular immigration status
  • Their employer is unable to produce documents required
  • Poor or non-existent health and safety standards
  • Requirement to pay for tools and food
  • Imposed place of accommodation (and deductions made for it)
  • Pay that is less than minimum wage
  • Dependence on employer for services
  • No access to labour contract
  • Excessive work hours/few breaks

Child Abuse

"An abuse of a child's vulnerability by a person's position of power or trust, exploiting that position to obtain sexual services in exchange for some form of favour such as alcohol, drugs, attention or gifts" - Engage Team, Blackburn

You may notice a child that is:

  • Often going missing/truanting
  • Secretive
  • Has unexplained money/presents
  • Experimenting with drugs/alcohol
  • Associating with/being groomed by older people (not in normal networks)
  • In relationships with significantly older people
  • Taking part in social activities with no plausible explanation
  • Seen entering or leaving vehicles with unknown adults
  • Showing evidence of physical/sexual assault (including STD's)
  • Showing signs of low self image/self harm/eating disorder

Criminal Activities

The person is recruited and forced/deceived into conducting some form of criminal activity such as pick pocketing, begging, cannabis cultivation and benefit fraud.

Same indicators as for forced labour but for cannabis cultivation you may also notice:

  • Windows of property are permanently covered from the inside
  • Visits to property are at unusual times
  • Property may be residential
  • Unusual noises coming from the property e.g. machinery
  • Pungent smells coming from the property

Domestic Servitude

A particularly serious form of denial of freedom; this includes the obligation to provide certain services and the obligation to live on another person property without the possibility of changing those circumstances. They may:

  • Be living and working for a family in a private home
  • Not be eating with the rest of the family
  • Have no bedroom or proper sleeping place
  • Have no private space
  • Be forced to work excessive hours; "on call" 24 hours a day
  • Never leave the house without the 'employer'
  • Be malnourished
  • Be reported as missing or accused of crime by their 'employer' if they try to escape

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