It’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. What do we need to do now?

 

It is believed that millions are currently victims of trafficking in persons around the world. It is almost impossible to think about each one of those numbers as individual human beings and it can feel like an insurmountable problem. But it isn’t. And on this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons we must believe that not only can we make a dent but that we can make significant inroads into eliminating it.

At the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN’s Migration Agency I head, we deal with trafficking in persons on a daily basis. We know that trafficking involves more than kidnapping and selling of persons, people forced into jobs against their will, and victims forced to give away a kidney or other vital organs. Trafficking in persons can occur ever so subtly as in cases of employment pathways, where workers are charged for recruitment and placement fees, have their wages withheld, or cannot leave their employers and thus are put into vulnerable situations where they are further exploited and become trafficked. Migrants travelling on regular or irregular migration routes around the globe are highly vulnerable to these kinds of abuses. Many who start their journeys by willingly placing themselves in the hands of smugglers can also become victims of trafficking along the way.

In addition to our and our partners’ hands-on work in providing protection and assistance to already some 90,000 victims of trafficking over the years, we are working tirelessly to collect and analyze global data on trafficking so that we can collectively improve and implement the best practices and inform policies and programmes to better address trafficking in persons.

For instance, since 2015, IOM has surveyed over 22,000 migrants on the journey on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes. This is the largest-scale survey yet to explore migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation on the Mediterranean routes to Europe. Around 39% of individuals interviewed had a personal experience that indicates the presence of trafficking in persons or other exploitative practices along the route with many reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation and practices which can amount to trafficking in persons. Looking at just the Central route, a shocking 73% of those interviewed indicated this. With this research IOM is currently exploring which factors predict migrants’ vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation on their journey.

It is also our goal to facilitate cross-border, trans-agency analysis and provide the counter-trafficking community with the information we need to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this complex issue. To this end, we will soon be launching the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative. Drawing on IOM’s and partners’ victim case data, this will be the first ever open access data platform for human trafficking data.

As we develop new knowledge and tools, it is critical that we share our findings and communicate with other global leaders. This September, in an effort to develop the “Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration,” governments will come together to discuss smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims. This will be our chance to share our expertise learned from decades of research and practice in this field and to learn from others.

We are learning more, and understanding how to better respond to trafficking in persons, yet there are still many unanswered questions. What makes migrants susceptible to trafficking? What do we know about those being trafficked now? And how do we best stop it from occurring in the future?

We may not have all the answers yet, but we do know that we must now accumulate the data and knowledge we have and make it transferrable so that we can all benefit from it. We do not know everyone who could be at risk but we do know we need to make migration safer, more orderly, and more regular to make migrants less vulnerable. We do not know the exact number of victims of trafficking, but we do know it’s far too many.

The fight against trafficking in persons requires us to strive for answers to our many questions. It requires us to better respond, with shared data, knowledge, and tools, and it requires us to respond together.

 

About the author: 

William Lacy Swing is the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency.

 


Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?

Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

"We all have to remember that hate crimes are preceded by hate speech." This is how Adama Dieng, UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, starts the Stopping Hate Speech video. "We have to bear in mind that words kill. Words kill as bullets", he continued.

To speak about hate speech it is necessary to refer to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The article stresses the importance of freedom of expression, but it also calls attention to the responsibilities that come with it. 

The United Nations has recently launched the "UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech", to strengthen UN actions that address the causes of hate speech, and the impact this discourse has within societies. Among other measures, the strategy includes monitoring and analyzing data, using technology, and engaging with new and traditional media. It also encourages more research on the relationship between the misuse of the Internet and social media for spreading hate speech, and the factors that drive individuals towards violence.

Just like the UN must assume responsibility, traditional media oulets also face challenges in guaranteeing that the information they offer on migrants is conscientious and data-based (here are some recommendations on how to do this).

But beyond these institutional responsibilities, the reality is that thousands of people publish hate filled content on their social media every day, sometime explicitly calling for violent actions against migrant populations and other vulnerable groups. What can each of us do to fight back against this content?

  • Speak up against hate: Silence and apathy can be taken as acceptance. Comments on social networks are more than just words, and should not be seen as harmless, especially when social networks are a source of information for migrants and contribute to their experiences. According to the Department of Justice of the United States, "insults can escalate to harassment, harassment can escalate to threats, and threats to physical violence." Intervening assertively is important both in the digital world and in face-to-face situations. However, it is necessary to assess the risk in each context to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Create positive content: To counteract the weight of hate speech, it is necessary to create and share empathetic information. According to Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, to combat this problem, we must present images that appeal to the best of us, and focus on powerful and universal messages that unite us through our shared values.
  • Avoid sharing sensational videos and photos: Even when it is to criticize this type of content, sharing it will increase traffic to the channels and users that broadcast negative media.
  • Report on the platform: Each social network has its own guidelines on which content is acceptable or not not. While there are teams dedicated to verify this information, in many cases it is necessary to report it for it to be seen. Facebook continually checks if there are new vulnerable populations that should be included in their protected categories, and on previous occasions, migrants have fit within this group. According to the Facebook hard questions blog:

"When the influx of migrants arriving in Germany increased in recent years, we received feedback that some posts on Facebook were directly threatening refugees or migrants. We investigated how this material appeared globally and decided to develop new guidelines to remove calls for violence against migrants or dehumanizing references to them — such as comparisons to animals, to filth or to trash. But we have left in place the ability for people to express their views on immigration itself."

There is a whole discussion about whether social media companies are the ones who should define, in their own platforms, what constitutes freedom of expression and what constitutes hate speech, but that is material for another blog. Here you can see what kind of content to report in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

  • Report to the authorities: When there are personal threats to the physical integrity or the lives of others, it is time to report the situation to the competent authorities to intervene. Since the digital world moves faster than changes in laws, there may be "holes" in the regulations that will hinder intervention. Documenting hazardous materials through screenshots and collecting as much information as possible about the aggressor before they close their account will be useful for the reporting process. Platforms and companies can also be reported if they spread violent content. For example, a few months after the massacres in two mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand), the Australian government approved new legislation against spaces that do not quickly eliminate "violent and abominable material".

“We need to use the verb to become a tool for peace, a tool for love, a tool for increase social cohesion”, said Adama, later in the video. Let’s speak up against hate speech.