Islamabad, Pakistan 16 May 2023 - People engaged in trafficking in persons (TIP) and smuggling of migrants (SOM) increasingly use social media platforms to facilitate their crimes. The platforms are used to lure would-be trafficking victims and to advertise illicit services. By necessity, if the criminals are to succeed, the information concerning these services or fraudulent employment opportunities must be relatively accessible to the public.
The people committing these crimes are torn between the need to protect themselves from the eyes of law enforcement agencies. The need to attract customers and potential victims and information concerning their activity will be neither in plain sight nor strenuously protected.
Officers with the necessary skills and knowledge can navigate social media platforms and uncover information that the criminals and their associates have placed there. This information can relate to routes, network members and fee structures of migrant smuggling operations, sites where forged documents can be obtained, fraudulent employment opportunities designed to entice potential trafficking victims, and more.
From 15 to 19 May 2023, UNODC, under the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East) organized a workshop to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement to conduct Open Source Internet Investigations.
Addressing the workshop participants, Ashraf Zubair Siddiqui, Additional Director General, Immigration, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), said: "The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Federal Investigation Agency are working hard to equip you with strong investigative skills and a commitment to upholding the law and protecting the public. They also aim to help you develop the necessary understanding, compassion, and flexibility to deal with these crimes' complexities and support victims who have been through traumatic experiences."
Kicking off the workshop, John Blake, UNODC consultant and Director of Cyber, Investigations and Intelligence, MBCS, reminded participants that the role of an investigator is to collect and handle evidential material in accordance with the law, policies and procedures.
The foundation-level training introduces participants to the basic concepts of OSINT, online safety, evidence best practice and social media investigations essential for investigating human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
The training forms part of a broader effort under GLO.ACT to encourage greater use of "intelligence-led policing" techniques and follows OISNT training already delivered in Bangladesh and Iraq. It also wraps up long terms training and coaching of a cohort of female officers from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Punjab police.
21 female officers from the FIA and the Punjab police and 5 male officers from the FIA's Anti-human trafficking circles attended the workshop.
The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Asia and the Middle East (GLO.ACT-Asia and the Middle East) is a four-year joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in up to five countries: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), Islamic Republic of Iran (I.R. of Iran), Republic of Iraq (Iraq), Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan). GLO.ACT-Bangladesh is a parallel initiative also financed by the EU and implemented with IOM.
The project builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 and assists governmental authorities and civil society organizations in targeted, innovative, and demand-driven interventions: sustaining effective strategy and policy development, legislative review and harmonization, capability development, and regional and trans-regional cooperation. The project also provides direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and protection mechanisms. The project is fully committed to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all of its activities.
This project is funded by the European Union
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Shahida Gillani, National Project Office
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