Hope for Justice has launched its latest investigative Hub to help victims of human trafficking, by expanding our operations into Oslo, the capital of Norway. New investigations and outreach staff members are being hired as part of the expansion.
Our frontline programmes in Norway, launched in 2015, have until now been run out of our head office in Stavanger on the west coast. The new Hub will allow us to focus attention on Oslo, which is the country’s most-populous city, with the highest proportion of foreign citizens – who are often targeted by traffickers.
Hope for Justice Norway Director, Sondre Høysæter, said: “It is with great anticipation and excitement that we are expanding our work in Norway. It will be a huge boost to our mission to bring an end to modern slavery by preventing exploitation, rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society. We are encouraged by all the supporters, volunteers and other NGOs that are welcoming this expansion of our investigative capacity into Oslo.”
Our Stavanger-based team have already been working on modern slavery cases linked to Oslo, with an increasing number of referrals and tips coming into us focused on the capital.
The team will work closely with law enforcement and government agencies in Norway, as it is only by cooperating with the existing network and agencies that we can truly contribute to building capacity for victim identification.
The new Hub and team will also learn from best practice methods established by our UK and US-based investigations.
Neil Wain, International Programme Director at Hope for Justice, explained: “One of the key things we have learned from the UK hubs is the need to have a victim-centred approach. In the UK and the US, Hope for Justice investigators are considered an alternative pathway for victims who often will not approach the police or official agencies for a whole range of reasons. Our victim focus allows the investigator to build trust and overcome any obstacles and often lead to that victim having confidence to later approach the authorities.
“Another is the need to conduct proactive research into those locations where victims are likely to appear. Often law enforcement agencies struggle to commit resources to modern slavery due to competing demands. Our investigators, by contrast, can focus specifically on this issue and build capacity for local police.
“One of the great successes in the UK has been the development of MoUs (memorandums of understanding) with local police forces, allowing greater cooperation, team work and the ability to share intelligence increasing the opportunities to intervene and identify victims.”
The Oslo team will also draw on expertise from Hope for Justice’s other Hubs in dealing with cases of forced labour and domestic servitude, as some Norwegian agencies and law enforcement organisations are more used to dealing with sex trafficking cases but not with these other types of exploitation.
Sondre Høysæter added: “The importance of network-building, cultural understanding and multi-lingualism also stands out as a key to success.”
As is the case everywhere, modern slavery is a hidden crime, making exact statistics for Norway impossible to come by. A recent academic estimate based on global survey data and extrapolation suggested a figure of 9,000 victims; whereas the official government figures suggest only 250 victims have actually been identified.
To find out more about the jobs at the Oslo Hub that Hope for Justice is recruiting for during November 2018, visit: www.hopeforjustice.org/jobs