International nonprofit organizations are gaining ground in the fight against human trafficking, but would be better served with the development of an information sharing platform, a team of researchers from the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy confirmed after a two day conference in Yorba Linda, Calif. Led by CCLP Research Director Mark Latonero, the team participated in the Global Forum on Human Trafficking, an international symposium hosted by a San Francisco based anti-trafficking non-profit.
“This conference reinforced the findings from our August fact-finding mission to the Mekong sub-region,” explained Latonero, who led the research initiative in Cambodia and Thailand. “A mobile and web-enabled information system would give NGOs, social service providers, law enforcement officials and victims a tool to strategically coordinate our efforts to fight human trafficking.”
In the United States alone, more than 500 nonprofit organizations are engaged in anti-trafficking initiatives. While these organizations contribute much-needed momentum in the fight against forced labor and sexual slavery, most groups operate in isolation from one another and engage in only minimal coordination of their activities.
“With an information sharing platform, NGO’s could provide real-time updates to law enforcement agencies about trafficking hotspots,” explained Zhaleh Boyd, a graduate research fellow for CCLP. “In turn, law enforcement officials could link their efforts directly with social service providers to immediately provide victims with support. Then, NGO’s and other organizations could follow up with social service providers to provide job training and long term assistance.”
Nearly a thousand volunteers, students, activists, and leaders of nonprofit organization participated in the 2nd annual Global Forum, held on October 14-15th. In addition to general session meetings and presentations, the conference hosted special breakout sessions with panels of experts from fields ranging from law enforcement to philanthropy. Panel topics included the role of social media in the anti-trafficking movement, how law enforcement agencies coordinate inter-agency operations through special task forces, and a review of the international product supply chain and its effects on migrant populations.
In one panel on law enforcement’s efforts to fight human trafficking, Westminster Police Lieutenant Derek Marsh, Chair of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, shared his experiences with anti-trafficking coordination efforts and how special taskforces are a model for overcoming the obstacles of operational collaboration.
Marsh explained that few fields are more “territorial” than law enforcement, but once a special task force is created, law enforcement agencies are effective because “they understand their role in the operation.”
The global successes with this law enforcement task force model reinforce CCLP’s initiative to develop and implement a broad-based information sharing platform for the entire anti-trafficking community. Despite the differing topics covered during the two day forum, all of the sessions reinforced a singular theme: if we are going to have any real success in the eradication of trafficking in persons, we must combine our resources and confront the issue as a unified force.
To find out more about CCLP’s Technology and Trafficking In Persons (TIP) initiative, click here.
A copy of the CCLP Mekong Sub-Region Trip Report can found here
The article was written by Zhaleh Boyd.