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21 October 2016

Human trafficking focus of INTERPOL conference

LUGANO, Switzerland – Partnerships are key to disrupting the transnational criminal networks behind the trafficking of human beings and protect the victims from further exploitation, participants at an INTERPOL conference heard this week.

With organized crime groups increasingly taking advantage of people fleeing conflict zones, links between the ongoing migration crisis and transnational crime was a central topic discussed during the 4th INTERPOL Global Trafficking in Human Beings Conference.

The three-day (19-21 October) meeting brought together more than 200 investigators and specialists from some 55 countries and international organizations to strengthen ties and develop strategies to combat human trafficking worldwide.

Other key issues discussed during the meeting – organized by INTERPOL in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Office of Police (fedpol) and the Canton of Ticino – included victim identification, human trafficking in the supply chain, improving international police cooperation and collaboration with the private sector.

“Although cooperation at an international level is needed, many politicians are calling for national solutions. But when crimes happen on an international level, they must also be investigated on an international level. INTERPOL demonstrates the advantages of international cooperation,” said Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Councilor and Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police.

In June INTERPOL’s Operation Intercops – Spartacus targeting human trafficking in South and Central America resulted in 134 arrests and the dismantling of at least seven organized crime networks. In Peru, actions targeting sexual exploitation and forced labour in the gold-mining industry rescued 190 women and 250 men, while police in Colombia dismantled a criminal network believed to have trafficked hundreds of women and girls from South America to China.

“Identifying trafficking victims is essential for opening a criminal investigation and finding the perpetrators, but we must also ensure the security of the vulnerable victims. For law enforcement to truly protect victims, they must be given a face,” said Nicoletta della Valle, Director of fedpol.

With trafficking in human beings ‘a multi-billion-dollar form of international organized crime which knows no borders’, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Tim Morris encouraged all those present to work towards a common aim of putting an end to this ‘horrendous crime’.

“Since fighting transnational crimes like human trafficking requires global solutions, it is important that all actors in the law enforcement arena work together to end this terrible crime and disrupt the criminal networks involved,” he said.

To further support member countries in combating human trafficking, INTERPOL is currently updating its internationally recognized best practices manual for investigators working on human trafficking cases to include emerging trends and recent evolutions in the field.