Securing evidence: The key to convicting human traffickers |


The plastic bracelets the ladies wore in a bar in Argentina indicated the variety of males they’d been pressured to have intercourse with. In Thailand, males and kids from Myanmar have been exploited within the fishing trade: an electrical shock system was used in the event that they refused to work.

And a Chinese image for “slave” was tattooed on the ankle of a girl within the United States. 

A fancy crime

These techniques have been later used in opposition to the criminals themselves in court docket, after they offered important proof that led to a responsible verdict for human trafficking – significantly necessary in reminiscent of complicated crime, that’s troublesome to show.

Despite its prevalence in all areas of the world, there are persistent low ranges of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers. 

“One of the principle challenges is the well timed assortment of ample and admissible proof. Certain abilities are wanted to do that,” says Davor Raus, a prison justice knowledgeable from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “We practice cops and investigators how to legally receive evidential objects which might show {that a} crime of human trafficking has been dedicated.”

Currently, prison justice methods rely closely on verbal or written statements from the victims when investigating and prosecuting instances of human trafficking. 

However, in accordance to specialists from the UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, such testimonies may be troublesome to receive, and infrequently lack ample credibility wanted for a court docket ruling in opposition to a trafficker. 

Data from the newest UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, confirmed that in 2018 virtually 50,000 human trafficking victims have been detected in 135 international locations, whereas 88 international locations reported simply over 3,500 convictions. 

Some international locations don’t give victims the safety they want, so they’re reluctant to cooperate with regulation enforcement. Others are afraid their traffickers will hurt them or their households, or don’t belief the authorities which are questioning them.

In some instances, victims are associated to the traffickers, really feel a way of affection or loyalty in the direction of them, or they’ve been indoctrinated to inform a sure story. 

“In most instances sufferer testimonies are important, as a result of solely the one who has been trafficked can present the context,” says Rahel Gershuni, a lawyer and worldwide knowledgeable on combatting human trafficking. 


The gun utilized in a case of human trafficking for exploitation in home labour to scare the victims and preserve management.

Peeling away the layers

“However, in view of the everyday weaknesses that plague sufferer testimonies, it’s crucial to collect different types of proof and consider on the totality of the proof, quite than limiting it to the sufferer assertion.” 

Ms. Gershuni, who led the drafting of UNODC’s Global Digest on Evidential Issues in Trafficking in Persons Cases, provides that victims usually inform their story in segments “just like the peeling of an onion”, with contradictions, inconsistencies, and delays. 

“This can provide the impression the sufferer isn’t credible. But this behaviour could also be defined by the vulnerabilities of the sufferer and the trauma they’ve skilled,” she provides.    

Vulnerabilities can embody the younger age of the sufferer, the unfamiliar surroundings, or an incapacity to talk successfully.
Victims can undergo reminiscence lapses due to their trafficking ordeal, and in the event that they want to face their traffickers in court docket, could also be too scared or intimidated to communicate the reality.  

“Therefore, it’s important that the court docket considers the experiences of the sufferer earlier than, throughout and after the trafficking course of and the way this may affect an announcement,” says Ms. Gershuni.  


© UNICEF/Juan Haro

Abdul, from Darfur, was pressured to reside in a home in Libya and work. He is now looking for asylum.

Biological traces

During UNODC workshops contributors study concerning the varied sorts of proof that can be utilized in trafficking instances.  

This can embody organic traces that may come from bloodstains, saliva samples and semen, and tissue samples from pores and skin, nails, tooth, bone, or hair, which may be analysed by forensic scientists. 

Objects reminiscent of cash, cellphones, condoms, and intercourse toys discovered within the possession of the suspects or at a criminal offense scene may present proof of exploitation. 

“There was case involving three bodily disabled Slovakian males who had been pushed to Belgium by a Hungarian trafficker. He pressured them to beg all day exterior a grocery store and took all their cash,” says UNODC’s Davor Raus. 

“The responsible verdict was supported by objects discovered within the defendant’s automobile the place the victims had been sleeping – pillows, a big amount of cash and indicators in French asking for cash.”  

Photographs or movies of chains, locks and excessive fences may help statements about victims’ dwelling situations or their presence in exploitative premises.  

In a case in Australia, a video of the bed room the place victims of sexual exploitation slept, confirmed a scarcity of furnishings, supporting the prosecution case that the victims have been held below situations of slavery. 

“It’s necessary that regulation enforcement officers not solely perceive how to accumulate important proof, but in addition how to deal with it correctly. So, this facet is roofed too in our coaching periods,” says Davor Raus. 

“If proof isn’t collected, preserved, and offered in accordance to nationwide requirements it may be rejected in court docket.  A case in opposition to a trafficker may collapse, so that is what’s at stake right here,” he concludes.

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