Computer Crime Research Center


Technology Is a Double-Edged Sword: Illegal Human Trafficking in the Information Age

Date: March 05, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Judge Mohamed CHAWKI and Dr. Mohamed WAHAB

... technology.

A) European Efforts: National and Regional Strategies
In February 2003, France passed an anti-trafficking and slavery law, including a provision against trafficking of children for begging, with penalties of imprisonment or high fines. The law enhances existing criminal provisions, including a 2002 law against child prostitution and trafficking. Cases progressed to court, including an indictment against 11 defendants charged with prostitution of a minor.
France is a destination country for victims, primarily women, trafficked from Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude. French police estimate that 90% of the 15,000 sex workers in France are trafficking victims, and that 3,000 to 8,000 children are forced into prostitution and labor, including begging. There are also reports of Chinese and Colombian men trafficked into bonded or forced labor in France. The Government of France fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Concerning the United Kingdom, it is primarily a country of destination for internationally trafficked women from Eastern Europe, particularly Albania, Kosovo, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Russia. Some also come from East Asia, especially Thailand and China, and from West Africa, particularly Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The trafficked population includes children and men. While women are trafficked primarily into sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, trafficking of laborers, predominantly male, into agriculture, sweatshops, and industry also occurs. The United Kingdom also may play a minor role as a transit country to other western European countries.
The Government of the United Kingdom fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government’s efforts were particularly strong with regard to strengthening cooperation between police and prosecutors both domestically and internationally, and in supporting preventive programs in source countries and regions. In order to fully assess law enforcement strategies and mechanisms, this report must consider statistics on trafficking-related offenses and prosecutions. While such information was unavailable, new legislation establishing trafficking-related offenses will be an indispensable step forward.
In England there is no specific law prohibiting all forms of trafficking in persons, but many human trafficking offenses are punishable under existing laws. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002 was changed to establish an offense of trafficking for prostitution that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years. New offenses related to human trafficking are in the recently introduced legislation on sexual offenses. Strengthening the operational and legal fight against human trafficking is one of the government’s priorities for the European Commission five-year (2003-07) funding program in the area of police and judicial cooperation. Task Force Reflex, a U.K. law enforcement initiative, coordinates all agencies involved in combating trafficking and migrant smuggling.
With the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002 only in effect since November 2002, numbers of trafficking-related prosecutions under this Act are not yet reported, but public reports in the press highlighted a number of trafficking investigations and arrests. The Crown Prosecution Service works closely with the police at home, appoints prosecutors as liaison magistrates abroad, and works increasingly with Euro just (an initiative of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council) to combat serious cross-border crime, including trafficking in persons. Prosecutors provide advice to police at the investigation stage, and joint police-prosecutorial criminal justice units were established in 46 towns, with some 85 more to come. As an effort to combat transnational crime, including trafficking in persons, the government provided liaison magistrates in Spain, Italy and France.
In Portugal, a new immigration Act criminalizes new categories of trafficking and increases penalties for traffickers, but laws on false documentation, extortion, fraud and other criminal activities were also used to prosecute and convict traffickers. According to the Border and Foreigner Service (SEF), 329 trafficking-related investigations were undertaken in 2002-03, of these, four Ukrainians were sentenced from two and a half to nine years for related crimes; 3 Portuguese citizens were sentenced between seven and 15 years for involvement in a human trafficking network of 3,000 victims; and 16 defendants were charged with forced labor, trafficking and kidnapping of more than 300 Brazilian and Moldovan women forced into prostitution. The government trains its law enforcement officers on trafficking, coordinates well with Interpol and Europol and participates in occasional joint trainings; however, overall law enforcement efforts were hindered by jurisdictional rivalries. The government increased its border monitoring at the airport, but control over the land border - where the vast majority of traffickers and their victims enter the country – is weaker. The Portuguese government is currently working with the governments of Germany, Italy and Spain to develop an organized crime database under Europol that will better track cross-country movement of human traffickers and other criminals, mostly from Ukraine and Moldova. The government employs special investigative techniques to investigate trafficking cases, and offers legal residency as an incentive for victim participation.
In Denmark, a new anti-trafficking legislation went into effect in late 2002 but its overall effectiveness is still uncertain, as no cases were brought to trial. Previously, Danish authorities prosecuted trafficking under other provisions of the criminal law, such as those against human smuggling. Three foreigners and five Danish nationals were convicted for smuggling prostitutes, but all the convictions were overturned on appeal. The Danish National Commissioner of Police maintains its own internal task force on trafficking in persons assists local police constabularies with investigations and trains its officers to recognize and investigate instances of trafficking. The government monitors trafficking largely through information-sharing between the national police and immigration authorities of countries with common borders and shared concerns. The government cooperates in international investigations, exchanges information with other Scandinavian countries, and works with Europol to track trafficking victims across borders.
In Italy, the government vigorously enforces its anti-trafficking criminal legislation, especially through coordinated international operations. Italian police have a special anti-trafficking unit trained and directed to enforce anti-trafficking criminal laws, dedicating 85 Italian law enforcement officers to trafficking cases. In conjunction with Europol, Italian police executed “Operation Sunflower Two” through which they apprehended 80 traffickers in several Western European countries. Through “Operation Kanun”, a joint operation with the Government of Albania, Italian police sentenced 104 Albanian traffickers to prison for trafficking-related mafia activities. According to public sources, Italian authorities arrested and prosecuted over 100 other suspected traffickers in Italy.
It should also be noted that Internet related crimes are to a very large extent international matters since the Internet does not recognize political or national borders. Thus many experts did not concentrate their research on international instruments. Nevertheless they deemed it important to mention two such instruments in this context:
1) The Directive of the European Union 2000/31/CE of June 8, 2000
In accordance with the underlying principles of this directive, access providers are not liable for information transmitted over the Internet unless they have initiated the communication, have selected the receiver, or have modified the information transmitted (art. 12). Service providers are not liable for information transmitted unless they have actual knowledge of illicit content or, once they become aware of such illicit content, they do not act promptly to remove such content or to block access to it (art. 14). Article 15 of the directive prohibits Member States from imposing a general obligation of surveillance on these entities over the information which they transmit or store. Member States are also prohibited from imposing on them a duty to actively search out illegal content which they might host or transmit. As a result, they are totally exonerated from liability unless they have actual knowledge of illegal content which they may store or transmit.
2) The Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe
The International Convention on Cybercrime seeks to set international standards for the policing of electronic networks. The move towards creating such a convention was fuelled by the G8 and by the Council of Europe’s concerns of tackling “cyber crime”. It is considered the first in binding international treaty on cyber crime. It deals, in particular, with offences related to copyright violations, computer related fraud, child pornography, and offences connected with network security.
The Convention does not deal explicitly with the trafficking of human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation or with pornographic images of women. However it does focus on the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. Article 9 makes it a criminal offence to not only produce child pornography for distribution through a computer system but also to offer this kind of pornography, to make it available, to distribute or transmit it, to procure it or...

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