Vienna (Austria), 2 March 2023 – Trafficking in Persons remains a significant global challenge, with more than 450,000 individuals forced, coerced, or deceived into labour or sexual exploitation. Millions of people continue to be affected by this heinous crime every year. The recently published UNODC 2022 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons presents findings of the trafficking patterns and flows, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the official Report’s launch on 24 January, UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU) and the Research and Trend Analysis Branch (RAB) in cooperation with the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (The Alliance) organised an interactive presentation for civil society on the main findings of the 2022 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, where the main points of interest relevant to civil society were highlighted and discussed.
Some 200 participants from all around the world attended the event that took place in hybrid format with simultaneous interpretation in Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish languages. In her opening remarks Mirella Dummar Frahi, chief of UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU) stated that UNODC will continue to work with civil society to bridge the gaps identified in the Report. Ian Tennant representing the Alliance, stressed the important role NGOs play in prevention of trafficking, victims support and engaging with relevant stakeholders such as law enforcement and private sector.
Points of interest explained by experts
Fabrizio Sarrica from UNODC Research and Analysis Branch (RAB) explained that the Global Report covers 141 countries, with analysis of trafficking cases detected between 2018 and 2021. A major focus of this edition of the Report is trends of detections and convictions that show major changes compared to historical trends since UNODC started to collect data in 2003. Giulia Serio from RAB presented profiles of identified victims and convicted criminals as well as different forms of exploitation across different regions.
The main focus of the event was to discuss solutions on how to address some gaps identified in the report. Linda Witong from Soroptimist International NGO stressed that civil society organizations can use a range of strategies, from organising public events to using social media, to help educate the public and prevent human trafficking from occurring in the first place as well as provide professional support to survivors. “Trafficking in persons is happening our backyard”, she said, stressing the importance of education, including vocational training. She also highlighted the danger the climate crisis presents, in terms of in increasing human trafficking and the crucial need to work in closer partnerships with other NGOs.
During the interactive Q&A the representatives from various NGOs expressed that contributions from civil society that future reports would benefit from including experience from grassroots organizations. Other examples and experiences were shared from civil society from around the world, describing challenges victims of trafficking held in prisons as illegal migrants, lack of training among law enforcement officers to identify victims, lack of opportunities for young people, which make them more vulnerable to trafficking, and supporting young girl victims regain their lives.
Civil society has a significant role to play in counteracting human trafficking. By raising awareness, providing support for survivors, working with law enforcement, advocating for policy change, and partnering with businesses, civil society organizations can help prevent human trafficking and support those who have been affected by it. Summarising the event, the moderator Billy Batware from CSU stressed that the data presented in this report are critical for civil society in their daily work and for better engaging at national level. Also there is a need to improve mechanism to understand what is happening in communities through strengthened engagement with civil society, including grass root NGOs in close contact with the victims.