The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime observed the annual World Day Against Trafficking of Persons on 30 July 2022. This year’s theme, ‘the use and abuse of technology,’ focused on how technology is used as a tool to both enable and impede human trafficking. Spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the global integration of technology into everyday life, the United Nations (UN) seeks to recognise how this digital shift aids and abets human trafficking.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in his message recognising the day, pointed out how anonymity and the dark web allow perpetrators to conceal their identities and to deceive and recruit people under false premises, exacerbating human trafficking. Human traffickers use digital platforms to recruit, advertise, control and exploit victims and to hide criminal proceeds. Technology is also seen to facilitate operations across jurisdictions while evading detection, while fake travel agencies and job advertisements online pose further challenges.
Conversely, the UN also acknowledges the role that technology can play to combat human trafficking when harnessed by law enforcement and the judiciary, such as by aiding investigations and presenting digital evidence in criminal prosecutions for human trafficking. This year’s theme highlights the importance of raising awareness on the internet and social media to prevent human trafficking and encourages the private sector to participate in preventing human trafficking through technology innovation. The Secretary-General also proposed a Global Digital Compact for 2023’s Summit of the Future to ensure good governance on the internet.
On the continent, the day was observed by local organisations including ActionAid Ghana and its Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Committees. After conducting a peaceful protest on the theme “The use of computers and social media to perpetuate modern-day slavery,” the group handed a petition to the Nanumba South District Police Command to express the need for law enforcement to actively participate in curbing human trafficking.
It is hoped that by focusing attention during this year’s World Day Against Trafficking of Persons on the risks and advantages of technology, efforts to combat trafficking can better respond to the new human rights threats posed to people around the world.
The press release on the United Nations Use and Abuse of Technology can be accessed here.
The message from the UN Secretary General can be accessed here.
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