Preliminary results of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) study on combatting human trafficking and recruiting online in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan have been introduced to representatives of the civil society of three countries during a two-day regional event held on 21-22 January 2019 in Dushanbe.
Some 20 representatives of the civil society organizations involved in combating human trafficking in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan have been introduced with the IOM study on combating human trafficking and recruiting online, raised their awareness on how traffickers recruit victims online, and improved their knowledge on new information technology tools to use to prevent recruiting online and assist victims. The pioneering training on effective strategies for the prevention of trafficking in persons using information and communication technologies in Central Asia is organized by the IOM with funds from the IOM Development Fund, and the support of the Ministry of Labour, Migration, and Employment of Population of Tajikistan.
IOM has conducted a study on how human traffickers use information-communication technologies to lure and recruit victims into trafficking in persons in three Central Asian republics. Internet penetration in the region is in raise and that can move the human trafficking recruitment to the online world making it faster and more anonymous for traffickers. As a part of this project, representatives of related government agencies, such as police officers and prosecutors, as well as civil society partners are trained on the current online mechanisms used by traffickers and recruiters, how to prevent it, and how to use ICT to combat human trafficking online.
The training has been conducted by well-known experts on counter-trafficking in persons Dr. Maya Rusakova from the Saint Petersburg State University and the Regional Public Organization “Stellit”, Ilmira Malikova, Victim Support Foundation Director on Development and Media Cooperation (Moscow), and Vladlena Avdeeva, Regional Public Organization “Stellit” (Saint Petersburg).
Dr. Maya Rusakova, expert on counter-trafficking in persons, says that “ICT is a mean to reproduce traditional recruiting mechanisms, such as job ads in specialized web-sites or social media groups, communication with people, who offer jobs. Potential victims can be approached in social media and messengers, people now search for jobs and study opportunities online and might fall to scam ads, the entertainment digitalizes fast, such as raise of web-cam modelling. A recruiter might also have wider options to search for potential victim online, have more open and more anonymous access to a victim. ICT makes the recruitment process faster and safer for a recruiter. We aim to inform people on these threats and as someone in real life can lure and cheat you into exploitation with fake promises, the same can happen through internet too”.
Bahrom Rahmatjonov, IOM Tajikistan, adds “ICT can be used to reach wider segments of population to raise their awareness on human trafficking threats, to prosecute traffickers, to reach victims through official web-sites, social media and messenger groups. Internet education can give a victim or potential victim chance to be rescued and survive his or her slavery, reach police, find humanitarian organization to get help for reintegration. We have cases when Tajik citizens in need of assistance used social media to ask for help and were rescued and returned to Tajikistan. We also train civil society organizations on how to use the ICT to reach and assist victims”.
The study and training is funded by the IOM Development Fund, a unique global resource aimed at supporting developing Member States in their efforts to strengthen their migration management capacity.