Posted on

29 July 2022

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This year’s theme 'The use and abuse of technology' recognises the role of technology as a tool to enable, disrupt and respond to #HumanTrafficking.

Traffickers are using social media and other digital platforms to recruit, deceive and exploit a broader range of individuals beyond those typically vulnerable to trafficking. During the pandemic and related border closures, traffickers diversified their modus operandi and took advantage of the global uptick in online activity.

However, technology can be used to improve counter-trafficking efforts. ASEAN-ACT supports ASEAN Member States with good practices in using technology to combat human trafficking, including:

#1 Aiding investigations to expose trafficking networks

#2 Enhancing prosecutions through digital evidence

#3 Avoiding re-traumatisation of victims by using video testimonies in court

#4 Supporting and protecting victims by providing services online

#5 Raising awareness about online trafficking traps using social media

ASEAN-ACT Justice Director Atty. Darlene Pajarito says, “Technology may not be a ‘catch-all’ solution, but we can explore ways to harness it in our counter-trafficking efforts.”

Watch her video here:

Share the Australian Embassy in The Philippines post here.

CAMBODIA

Traffickers are using online apps to recruit migrant workers into false or misleading jobs.  ASEAN-ACT grants partner in Cambodia, the Legal Support for Children and Women, explains how social media is changing vulnerability to trafficking.

Share the Australian Embassy in Cambodia post here.

LAO PDR

In Lao PDR this year, ASEAN-ACT supported a digital evidence workshop for judicial officials to strengthen cyber enabled investigations in trafficking in persons cases.

Digital evidence - online chats, texted images, CCTV, and online banking - is critical to contributing to the effective investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons cases.

Regional good practices on preserving, collating, analysing, and using digital evidence were shared at the workshop with up to 30 government officials.

Share the Australian Embassy in Laos post here.

THE PHILIPPINES

In the Philippines, ASEAN-ACT supported an eLearning program for government officials to prevent, detect and investigate trafficking in persons cases at the local-level.

Digitising the professional development of prosecutors and other officials has enabled learning and upskilling nationwide, including in harder to reach island groups such as Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao Islands.

ASEAN-ACT is working with the Ople Centre and Philippines Government partners to ensure better access to justice and effective reintegration services for Overseas Filipino Workers who are vulnerable to trafficking.

As part of this work, Ople Centre is supporting the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to launch a chatbot for migrant workers, which was developed in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Noel Padalhin, Deputy Executive Director at Ople Centre explained that the chatbot will provide a convenient, safe, and effective means of reporting cases coming from migrant workers and seeking assistance for victims of trafficking and their families.

The chatbot will also provide a way for IACAT to share messages and resources to victims and vulnerable communities. Using Facebook as the framework, the chatbot will be a convenient platform for the public to use.

Noel Padalhin from Ople Centre explains more here:

Share the Australian Embassy in The Philippines post here.

THAILAND

ASEAN-ACT's partner in Thailand, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), uses the Protect-U mobile app for victims and witnesses of trafficking to report and request protective services in seven different languages.

In 2021, 46 potential trafficking cases were reported using the app, 303 users accessed the interpreters service, and 2,585 people became aware of their rights via the app.

MSDHS also uses the channel to locate and identify victims of trafficking and to coordinate with relevant agencies to ensure their safe rescue and proper identification.

ASEAN-ACT is supporting the MSDHS to implement a new national referral mechanism, as well as to continuously improve shelter and support services for trafficked victims.

ASEAN-ACT partners with the Labour Protection Network Foundation (LPN) on research to identify the vulnerabilities of migrant workers in Special Economic Zones in Thailand.

Patima Tungpuchayakul, founder of LPN, says using social media apps like Facebook and Line, have helped to identify 5-7 potential trafficked victims per week and to connect over 300 potential victims of forced labour with their families.

“Social media plays an important role in our coordination work. It helps make work easier, faster, and more efficient.”

Watch more here:

The Office of Attorney General in Thailand is a great role model for the ASEAN region in using technology to assist, protect and support trafficked victims throughout the justice process.

OAG Executive Director Ms Suganya Rattananakin believes video testimonies can help victims feel safe to testify without needing to be present in a courtroom.

ASEAN-ACT partners with the Office of the Attorney General to deliver training that strengthens prosecution of trafficking in persons and ensure the rights of trafficked victims are protected throughout the justice process.

Watch the interview with Ms. Suganya Rattananakin here:

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VIETNAM

In Vietnam, ASEAN-ACT facilitated a series of workshops for approx. 170 criminal justice practitioners on collecting, analysing, and using digital evidence to strengthen trafficking in persons cases.

Experts from the Australian Federal police and other government and multilateral agencies shared their knowledge and experience in cyber enabled investigations and prosecutions.  Digital evidence - online chats, texted images, CCTV, phone data, and financial transactions - is critical to contributing to the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons cases.

ASEAN-ACT partner the Vietnam Women’s Union explains how technology – including digital evidence and video conferencing – can be used to combat human trafficking, whilst avoiding the re-traumatisation of victims.

“Vietnamese criminal justice agencies are collecting digital evidence to prosecute traffickers and using video conferencing to continue trials online. This enables trafficked victims and witnesses to attend from different locations and allows victims to feel safe,” said Ms Dang Huong Giang, Deputy Director, Vietnam Women’s Union.

Watch her full interview here:

Traffickers are using social media and other digital platforms apps to recruit and exploit a broader range of individuals than those typically vulnerable to trafficking. However, technology can be used to enhance counter-trafficking efforts and to raise awareness through TV broadcasts and online reporting.

Well-known Vietnamese journalist Mr Do Doan Hoang explains how the media use technology to report on human trafficking and raise awareness to protect vulnerable groups.

Watch here:

Congratulations to the People’s Police Academy for the successful publication of the Vietnam Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Journal for World Day Against Trafficking In Persons.

ASEAN-ACT is proud to support the development of the Vietnam TIP Journal for the third year. The Journal is an important regional reference to strengthen approaches to countering human trafficking in Vietnam and beyond. This year’s Journal focussed on investigation techniques, TIP prevention and victim centred approaches during the investigation process of trafficking in persons cases.

To download a copy of the abstract, visit www.aseanactpartnershiphub.com/resource/vn-tip-journal-2022

Share the Australian Embassy in Vietnam post here.