The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has published its annual report for 2021. In the report, GRETA’s president Helga Gayer stresses that child trafficking has continued to increase despite legislative and policy measures taken by states parties to the anti-trafficking convention. “The Covid-19 pandemic has made children even more vulnerable to trafficking, including exploitation online. All actors involved in action against human trafficking need to step up efforts to combat child trafficking and develop innovative approaches to protect children”, she said.
The report contains the key findings and recommendations of a study on online and technology-facilitated trafficking in human beings based on information provided by 40 states parties to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, 12 NGOs and two IT companies.
The study assesses the extent to which technology impacts human trafficking, the operational and legal challenges in detecting, investigating and prosecuting online and ICT-facilitated human trafficking offences, and contains a set of recommendations. The study also explores strategies, tools and good practices adopted by states parties to overcome such challenges. These include Internet monitoring, web-scraping tools and social network analysis. The involvement and co-operation of a wide range of agencies and knowledge sharing are crucial, as is cross-border co-operation in securing electronic evidence.