Trafficking in persons is a multifaceted global epidemic, which has seen a significant increase in public awareness. However, there is a substantial need to expand capacities and technologies involving representatives from all stakeholders.
An effective long-term solution to combat our modern-day human trafficking epidemic must encompass the entire spectrum of activity in this nefarious, criminal enterprise. At the center of this activity are existing victims of human trafficking, as well as at-risk individuals who are potential future victims of labor, sexual, debt bondage, or illegal organ trade exploitation. Research initiatives, policy development, and investigative processes, programs, and activities must be victim-centered, focusing on their needs and dignity. Whether the focus is on prevention and awareness, protection and care of the victims, or investigations culminating in successful prosecutions, there is a place and value in enhancing these activities with scientifically sound and reliable forensic-based tools and methods. Some of the most readily available and beneficial forensic science methods include various applications of forensic DNA analysis, biometric measurement and analysis systems, and digital forensics and investigations. Researchers from diverse areas, including social and natural sciences, as well as criminal justice, legal, health care, and operation research and data analysis, will need to invest resources and interest to help solve the many challenges facing those engaged in the current battle against trafficking of persons.
During this webinar, recommendations will be discussed addressing general policies and priorities; a need to better protect refuges, immigrants, and other at-risk populations; labor trafficking; and sexual exploitation. With many of these recommendations, key players involved with related research or program activities will be highlighted. In other areas, the recommendations identify the substantial lack of research and activities and are intended as a clarion call for action in a specific identified area associated with human trafficking. A core recommendation to any and all engaged in this work is to maintain a victim-centered approach.
Within the past few years, several new collaborative models have been developed, implemented, and demonstrated some good objective measures of success. A current shortcoming of local and global efforts to combat trafficking is an over-reliance on a need to respond, and thus fail to develop and integrate a long-term strategy that is more proactive than reactive. Proactive measures are essential to identify and disrupt the criminal network activities and financing associated with the large-scale presence and growth of human trafficking. With current capabilities through recent developments within the biometric research and commercial communities, these tools should be more commonly and effectively employed in a manner to achieve the desired scope, while ensuring that data privacy and rights are maintained. Given the reality of fiscal constraints and competing priorities, some of the methods stand a better chance of funding and adoption if there is an intentional coalignment of resources to address associated functions such as organized crime, transnational crime, money laundering, counter-terrorism, and border management.
Detailed learning objectives:
- To evaluate current biometric and forensic DNA methods and tools and to understand how to more consistently and effectively integrate their use with investigations of trafficking in persons;
- To analyze identified issues or potential issues associated with the many aspects of modern-day human trafficking and create new areas of research or engage in ongoing research initiatives that have the potential of solving some of these stated problems; and
- To apply victim-centered approaches, whether the research or activity involves research, investigation, victim care, awareness, prosecution, or policy development.
Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event has been provided by the National Institute of Justice.