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

... available, to distribute or transmit it, to procure it or to possess it in a computer system.
This Convention is considered the first step in the development of tools to combat, control and punish those engaged in the trafficking in human beings.
B) International Engagement and Sharing the Best Practices
A number of innovative anti-trafficking efforts came to existence during the preparation of the American Trafficking in Persons Report and through the Trafficking Office’s engagement with foreign governments and international and non-governmental organizations throughout the year. Many of these efforts are particularly notable because they demonstrate low or no-cost anti-trafficking measures. Many developing countries have high percentages of working children and a problem with trafficking for forced labor or forced commercial sexual exploitation. In response, several have established local vigilance or watchdog committees to assist authorities in rescuing children, catching traffickers, and preventing trafficking. Some law income State are educating residents in trafficking-prone areas about the dangers of trafficking through meetings with local traditional, religious, ethnic, and community leaders; establishing child rights clubs in schools; running nationwide public awareness campaigns that include radio and television spots, cartoons, talk shows, dramas, and debates; and reaching bilateral and regional agreements to combat trafficking in persons. After listening to victims and then mobilizing community participation, many are now strengthening partnerships with non-governmental and international organizations, available to assist victims.

1) Government-NGO Cooperation on Law Enforcement: A Symbiotic

For Thailand, it is a source, transit and destination country for persons trafficked into sexual exploitation and forced labor. Economic disparity in the region helps to drive significant illegal migration into Thailand from its neighbors, presenting traffickers opportunities to move victims into labor exploitation and, particularly women and children, into prostitution. International trafficking victims come mainly from Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and China. Many victims are from stateless ethnic tribes in Northern Thailand and the surrounding region. Widespread sex tourism in Thailand encourages trafficking for prostitution. Thai victims -- and others sometimes transiting through Thailand -- are trafficked to Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Europe and North America mainly for sexual exploitation; many go willingly and are later victimized by traffickers.
The Government of Thailand brings together government and NGO officials in an interagency working group to develop and implement comprehensive anti-TIP strategies. NGOs work to identify victims, pass that information along to the government, which can raid locations and, then refers victims’ names and addresses to the NGOs for shelter and assistance. NGOs uncover information, such as the traffickers’ names and addresses, from the victims and then pass that information back to the government to assist police work. The process makes for a regular exchange of information at a tactical level.

a) Source-Destination Cooperation
The UAE police, and Uzbek non-governmental organizations are working together on the rescue and repatriation of victims. The Government of Saudi Arabia has opened an information center in Sri Lanka, a major source country for foreign labor, to provide briefings for foreign workers on their rights and responsibilities and on cultural mores in Saudi Arabia. This is done in an attempt to better acquaint potential workers-especially women-with the lifestyle they will be expected to lead in the Kingdom and helps prevent misunderstandings with employers. Separate entry lines for foreign workers at airports in Saudi Arabia are used to give workers information on rights and responsibilities and points-of-contact should they need assistance. The United Kingdom has appointed prosecutors as liaison magistrates in source countries as well as in Spain, Italy, and France.

b) Discouraging Sex Tourism
The Government of Brazil is fighting sex tourism by asking hotels to be active in discouraging child prostitution on their premises. Hotels participating in the program receive an extra “star” in their quality rating. Brazil also distributes brochures to visiting tourists making them aware of the penalties associated with exploiting minors. The Government of Gambia asks visitors to give information to the police about sex tourists and the sexual exploitation of children through a special tip system. The government requires fingerprints before residence permits are issued to foreigners in order to check criminal records to prevent known exploiters from operating in the country. The Tourism Bill before the National Assembly provides protective measures for children against sex tourists. The Gambian Government and the Government of The Netherlands set up a special police unit to monitor and track Dutch pedophiles in The Gambia.
C) Human Trafficking Prevention
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Understanding what human trafficking is and how it can be committed should be coupled with law enforcements officers, awareness of the tactics that are commonly used to combat this crime. In order to create effective means of preventing human trafficking, facilitated by ICTs. Ms Gerstendörfer psychologist and member of the Group of Specialists on the impact of the use new information technologies on trafficking in human beings of the United Nations, proposes that preventive measures should first aim at effectively monitoring the Internet, introducing codes of good practice, filtering systems, etc. For some researchers, proposals for a European network of hotlines, filtering and rating systems, self-regulation, codes of conduct, encouraging awareness actions and assessing legal implications will reduce victim abuse. However, such policy will unlikely stop predators on the Internet. On such a basis, it is submitted that combating trafficking requires the implementation of both: short and long term measures.
In short term measures, one possibility is to seize and confiscate the benefits from trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, as provided in Recommendation (2000) 11 of the Committee of Ministers to the Member States of the Council of Europe “Take such steps as are necessary to order, without prejudice to the rights of third parties in good faith, the seizure and confiscation of the instruments of, and proceeds from, trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.”
Thus, preventing trafficking in human beings should take two dimensions:
Prevention against victimization of women and/or children and ;
Prevention against violent behavior of men and/or members of criminal organisations.
In Ukraine, regional referral systems between police and NGOs exist due to the allocation of specific anti-trafficking police officers in each region and active victim assistance NGOs. NGOs rehabilitate and reintegrate victims and put them in touch with police for protection and pursuit of criminal cases.
The government’s witness protection program is not effectively implemented due to lack of funds, but in-court protection exists. In the absence of a functioning program at the central level, NGOs collaborate with local police and secure ad hoc witness and victim protection. Local NGOs that provide victim assistance enhanced their cooperation with local police, and referrals between NGOs and police are increasingly common.


Human trafficking is a persisting international evil that transcends national boundaries in a manner that renders this form of organized crime a global concern. Human trafficking may take several forms including trafficking for forced labour, servitude, and organ removal. However, trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is a major criminal activity and a blatant evil that should be effectively tackled on all levels. It has been seen that amongst the major reasons that facilitate trafficking are: economic, educational, and social conditions. Source countries are mainly low-income developing and under developed States, which renders human trafficking a manifestation of a larger development divide.
On a different note, the globalisation of technology and the revolutionary advancement of ICTs have impacted on criminal activity, especially human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Mainstream communications, video digitizers, Internet applications and services, and software and file transfer protocols are amongst the tools utilized by traffickers to commit their crime and promote their services. The increasing proliferation in usage of technology assisted criminal activity and trafficking merits further attention from the global community by enacting the necessary legislative provisions and implementing effective technological and enforcement tools that reduce ICT-facilitated criminal activities.
By and large, it is submitted that human trafficking should be subject to a global principle of public policy that aims at combating and preventing this form of organized crime through raising global awareness and increasing literacy rates, promoting economic development, improving social conditions in least developed source and transit countries, coordinating legislative efforts on national, regional and global levels, and establishing a high level global network of cooperation between national, regional, and international enforcement agencies and police forces.

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