On September 18, 2012, research director Mark Latonero addressed The Asia Foundation workshop on Counter-Trafficking in Persons in Kathmandu, Nepal. Representatives from The Asia Foundation field offices across the Asia Pacific Region attended, along with representatives from USAID, AusAID, and DFID. Other participants included experts on trafficking in persons from the psychology, health, and legal fields.
Latonero spoke on a panel to discuss the intersection of technology and trafficking with James Larry Kelley, Senior Law Enforcement Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice, and Criminal Division, Embassy of the United States, Nepal. The discussion was moderated by Nick Langton, The Asia Foundation’s resident country representative in India.
Latonero discussed the opportunity for information and communication technology to be used to monitor and combat trafficking in region – particularly the monitoring of websites that advertise underage sex tourism and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Drawing from his research, Latonero also articulated the potential for mobile phones to be used in counter-trafficking efforts. With a mobile phone penetration of 50% in Nepal, an opportunity exists to harness mobile technology to identify, monitor, and report potential cases of trafficking in the region. Mobile can also be integrated into information sharing platforms for law enforcement and anti-trafficking organizations in the region.
Nepal is particularly susceptible to trafficking in persons because it is only just emerging from an internal conflict and shares a porous border with India to the South. Women and children are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Nepal is also a source country for irregular migration to the Gulf States and others nations, which increases the possibility for labor trafficking.
Pictured: Mark Latonero, Research Director, USC CCLP, James Larry Kelley, Senior Law Enforcement Advisor, U.S. DOJ, and Criminal Division, U.S. Embassy , Nepal and Nick Langton, of The Asia Foundation.