Global anti-trafficking organisation Hope for Justice today publishes an important new examination of the worldwide impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdown for victims of modern slavery and the fight to end it.
The report, COVID-19 and potential implications on human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery internationally, has been shared with key stakeholders in the fight against trafficking, including in government, law enforcement, the NGO sector, academics and researchers, and major businesses.
Hope for Justice Director of Legal Policy, Phillipa Roberts, said: “We are releasing this briefing document because we want to work collaboratively to support everyone involved in fighting human trafficking, be that government departments or agencies or other NGOs, and help them and the wider sector to understand the potential implications of COVID-19 for our work.
“These implications are even wider than many realise, as this Hope for Justice report shows, and now is the time to forward-plan and innovate – so we can continue to work to make the UK and all countries a hostile environment for those who exploit vulnerable people through modern slavery, while also addressing the health crisis.”
The 18-page report explores the increased threat and vulnerability of individuals and communities, including access to state and non-state support structures and safeguarding mechanisms; the potential impact on the methods used by exploiters; the potential impact on the rule of law and law enforcement activities; and the potential risks for businesses.
The report also examines the specific vulnerabilities faced by children and child protection issues, such as separation of children from caregivers, sexual violence including sex trafficking, physical violence, child labour, social exclusion, and neglect and abandonment.
COVID-19 and potential implications on human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery internationally outlines issues and vulnerabilities but also makes a series of specific recommendations for policymakers, NGOs and businesses. These are centred around funding for NGOs in the anti-trafficking space; data collection during this crisis; mitigating health risks specific to trafficked people and groups; ensuring the continued operation of existing pathways for safeguarding and support; adapting law enforcement and research to address emerging threats and new methods of control used by exploiters; and use of distance learning and web-based training to upskill individuals, businesses and organisations at this time.