September 29, 2020
The number of people being trafficked into the UK could increase as criminals look to exploit those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, an expert has warned.
Unseen UK chief executive Andrew Wallis said thousands of victims arrive in the country each year through traffickers, having been promised a chance to escape poverty or support their families back home financially.
But instead they find themselves at the mercy of criminal gangs who force them into illegal work to pay off inflated debts while threatening them with violence.
A report published in July found there could be 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK (Victoria Jones/PA)
And he warned that more people could be at risk of falling victim to traffickers in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Mr Wallis told the PA news agency: “I think as a result of Covid-19 and the economic downturn we are going to see an increase (in human trafficking to the UK) because as the economy shrinks and as people become more vulnerable, the risk of exploitation increases.
“With the huge global imbalance between economies there will be a draw. If you’ve got no options in life, if your options are grinding poverty and someone says ‘there’s a way out of this’, then human nature takes over.”
Traffickers use various methods to find their victims, including through posting adverts promising the chance to earn more money in western Europe, Mr Wallis said.
But what victims do not realise is that they are being “set-up”, he added.
“When they arrive, what they thought was a 400 US dollar debt (£302) that they have to pay off is suddenly 4,000 US dollars (£3002), so the debt bondage control begins,” Mr Wallis said.
“They are then forced to work or subjected to fines meaning they can never pay it off.”
To read the full article by UK News on The Jersey Evening Post: Click Here
May 13, 2020
Excerpts of remarks by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Bureau Meeting Webinar
Monday, April 27, 2020 10:00 a.m. EST
President Tsereteli, Secretary General Montella, and all my distinguished colleagues on this webinar, it is good to see you and I hope that everyone is staying healthy.
As lawmakers, all of us are focused almost exclusively on combating the coronavirus pandemic and seeking ways to mitigate its horrific impact.
The United States has about a million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over fifty-five thousand deaths. My state of New Jersey alone has well over one hundred thousand confirmed cases with over 6,000 dead.
Your constituents in each of your countries, like mine, have suffered enormous devastation and loss.
And now we know that the pandemic puts human trafficking victims at higher risk.
As the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues, and prime author of five U.S. laws to combat this exploitation including the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, I strongly believe we need to be seriously addressing:
Increased victim vulnerability—higher risk—especially for women and children,
The situation of both current victims and survivors of trafficking,
The heightened insecurity of victims in 2020 and beyond as government and philanthropic resources will likely be diminished,
Ensuring a sustained and robust criminal justice response during and after the pandemic, and more.
First and foremost, we must renew and reprioritize the fight against human trafficking.
Traffickers are not shut down—they haven’t gone on a holiday.
Victims still need to be rescued.
Survivors still need assistance.
Vulnerable people have been made even more vulnerable by both the virus and its deleterious impact on the global economy.
When things start to open back up, traffickers may even have an easier time finding, deceiving, coercing and exploiting victims.
New patterns of exploitation are already emerging due to increased online activity, greater use of social media, and social distancing practices. This makes it even more clear that we need to take into account how new technologies affect our efforts to combat human trafficking.
Teleworking and social distancing practices appear to be changing some of the dynamics of trafficking for sexual exploitation, shifting to and increasing various forms of trafficking online. For example, there is disturbing evidence of an increase in demand for online pornography and therefore an increase in the potential for online sexual exploitation of trafficking victims.
According to U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons John Richmond, with whom I spoke at length on Friday, the pandemic has made the “vulnerable more vulnerable”.
He said there are anecdotal reports from several countries within the OSCE, that online child sexual abuse and access to websites that host such exploitation have increased.
He noted that traffickers appear to be shifting labor trafficking victims into work related online commerce, and sex trafficking victims to online sexual exploitation.
Sex buyers are quarantined like everyone else and are turning to online venues. Sites are hosting videos of trafficking victims, sexual abuse of children, and rape.
Because of the pandemic, victims are likely to be facing increased abuse and are less likely to be rescued. Victims may be quarantined with their traffickers, and, as a result of quarantine and social distancing practices, are now less likely to come into contact with people who might assist or rescue them.
How many victims and survivors are homeless?
To read the full article by David Wildstein on The New New Jersey Globe: Click Here