Human trafficking is “a despicable crime and an all-out assault on the rights, safety and dignity of everyone”, the United Nations Secretary-General said
“The problem, alas, continues to worsen, especially for women and girls, who constitute the majority of the victims of trafficking detected in the world”, argued António Guterres.
The UN chief explained that conflict, forced displacement, climate change, inequality and poverty have left tens of millions of people around the world destitute, isolated and vulnerable; and that the Covid-19 pandemic has separated children and young people in general from their friends and peers, pushing them to spend more time alone and online.
“Human traffickers take advantage of these vulnerabilities using advanced technologies to locate, track, control and exploit victims,” said the UN chief.
Often using the “Dark Web”, online platforms allow criminals to recruit people with false promises.
Also, technology makes it possible to anonymously disseminate dangerous and degrading content that fuels human trafficking, including the sexual exploitation of children.
This year’s theme – “Uses and Misuses of Technology” – reminds everyone that while technology can contribute to trafficking, technology can also fundamentally help to combat it.
The Secretary-General has called on governments, regulators, businesses and civil society to unite and invest in policies, laws and technological solutions to identify and help victims, identify and punish perpetrators and to ensure a safe, open and secure Internet for all.
“At the 2023 Future Summit, I proposed a Global Digital Compact to rally the world around the need for good governance in the digital space,” Mr. Guterres said, calling on everyone to “to give this issue the attention it deserves, to act and to strive to put an end, once and for all, to the scourge of trafficking”.
In her message for the day, the Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, spoke in detail on this theme.
Acknowledging that digital technologies have been “a vital lifeline” during pandemic restrictions, she warned that they are “increasingly exploited by criminals”.
The borderless nature of information and communication technologies (ICTs) allows traffickers to expand their reach and profits with even greater impunity.
More than 60% of known victims of human trafficking over the past 15 years were women and girls, most of them trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.