Trends in Human Trafficking – Issue no. 16 – EEPA News Highlights

Dear readers,

The EEPA team is pleased to present the 16th issue of the newsletter on Trends in Human Trafficking between the Greater Horn of Africa and Europe. Please feel free to forward this information to others or invite them to subscribe via this link. If you have information to contribute, do not hesitate to contact us.

Research & Reports:

Investigative journalist publishes book on Mediterranean Route: My Fourth Time, We Drowned
On 31 March, reporter Sally Hayden’s book My Fourth Time, We Drowned was published. Through the stories of refugees and migrants in Libya, the book sheds light on the lives of thousands of people locked up in Libyan detention centres. The book is based on Hayden’s interviews with hundreds of refugees and migrants, who have been detained after interception at sea. Through the stories, Hayden argues that the Western world has turned its back on these refugees and migrants, who are facing severe human rights abuses. She also describes the resilience of the persons trapped in detention, despite these abuses.

My Fourth Time, We Drowned
Libya is a ‘market of human beings’

Connections between human smuggling and other crimes in the Mediterranean and North Africa
A chapter written by Marina Mancusso and Francesca Maldi in the book The Evolution of Illicit Flows adds new elements to answer the question “Does Human Smuggling Converge with Other Transnational Crimes in North Africa and the Mediterranean Area?” The two researchers used a new methodology based on text mining of press releases and online newspapers published between 2011 and 2019 in order to acquire data on the subject. According to the authors of this study, “[t]he results provide a preliminary indication that a marginal and episodic convergence exists, but the intensity of this convergence varies over time and according to illicit markets”. Drug trafficking is the crime most often linked with human smuggling, according to the data gathered. According to a secondary analysis provided by the authors, there is a potential convergence in terms of routes, tactics and offenders.

Does Human Smuggling Converge with Other Transnational Crimes in North Africa and the Mediterranean Area?

Human Trafficking in UAE and Egypt analysed from a convergence perspective
A chapter written by Carlos Manuel Abaunza in the book The Evolution of Illicit Flows offers an analysis of the dynamics of human trafficking in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. The explanations of the author revolve around the concept of crime convergence, which “can be defined as the confluence of criminal activity centered around a place, time, target or tactics”, and also the concept of crime displacement, which means the opposite. These concepts are, according to the author, particularly useful to understand how the Kafala system – a private sponsorship system for labour migration used in Golf countries – becomes the meeting point of most forms of human trafficking and smuggling in UAE. These concepts are also used by the author to understand how the prevention, protection, and prosecution of human traffickers within Egypt is “leading to changes in the types of offenses, tactics, and targets”. In his chapter, the author presents some systems in the MENA region, like the Kafala system, as “State-sponsored abuse and exploitation”. 

Human Trafficking in the MENA Region: Trends and Perspectives

The methodological challenges of examining the geographies of human trafficking
An article titled “Examining the geographies of human trafficking: Methodological challenges in mapping trafficking’s complexities and connectivities”, written by Cockbain et al. and published in Applied Geography engages with the methodological problems regarding the geography of human trafficking. As a preliminary, the author points to the lack of quantitative studies concerning the geospatial aspects of human trafficking, with researchers often preferring to explore human trafficking from a qualitative angle. In this context, the article aims to provide an empirically-substantiated examination of methodological challenges in mapping human trafficking, using as data 450 case files of indentified labour trafficking victims provided by the UK’s National Crime Agency. The authors discovered five key topics of methodological challenges in the perspective of a geospatial analysis: data integrity;  geographical uncertainty; managing multiple geographies; diversity and disaggregation; and unclear journey. The authors conclude that geospatial analysis of current trafficking datasets is insufficient in almost all cases to confidently pinpoint locations. They argue that improving data integrity is crucial to solve this.

Examining the geographies of human trafficking: Methodological challenges in mapping trafficking’s complexities and connectivities

Identifying risks faced by victims of human trafficking along the Eastern Desert Route
An article written by Biniyam Bogale and published in the Journal of Human Trafficking sheds new lights on the experience of Ethiopian victims of human trafficking along the Eastern Desert Route extending from the city of Jijiga to the border town of Tog-wochalle near Somaliland. Applying a constructivist sociological approach, the study uses data collected through in-depth interviews with informants (victims and local authorities). The author shows that the 4 major risks faced by victims of human trafficking are “1) arrest and confinement, 2) physical and emotional abuse, 3) control of mobility, sleep deprivation, denial of communication, and 4) health risks and consequences”. Based on the collected interviews, the author describes those 4 risks and formulates an appeal to more security and control along this road, as well as cooperation of Ethiopian and Somaliland/Somali authorities: “[T]he country [Ethiopia] has to have mutual agreement with Somaliland/Somalia to have referral path way and common rehabilitation center for intercepted victims along their border”.

Being Stranded En Route: Navigating Ethiopian Men’s Trafficking Experience along the Eastern Desert Route

How smartphones can help survivors of human trafficking
A study by Alice Malpass et al. and published in the Journal of Human Trafficking looks at the impact of smartphone technologies on survivors of human trafficking. This qualitative study was conducted with 27 survivors of human trafficking in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic who were provided with smartphones and access to data packages for 6 months. Analysing the data collected during in-depth interviews, the authors conclude that smartphone technologies “helped survivors  develop skills to assist them in their move toward independent living and navigate the systems and services in their environment”. The study also highlighted the diversity of ways smartphones were used by survivors, including education, entertainment, translation, healthcare, etc. In their conclusion, the authors advocate to include technological support as part of the standard help given to human trafficking survivors in the UK. This study was partially sponsored by the telecommunication company BT.

Overcoming Digital Exclusion during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact of Mobile Technology for Survivors of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking – A Mixed Method Study of Survivors and Support Service Provider Views

A new framework to think about anti-human trafficking initiatives in the hotel world
A new sociological study written by Zhang et al. in the International Journal of Hospitality Management addresses the issue of hotel workers’ engagement in anti-human-trafficking initiatives. This qualitative study is based on in-depth interviews with 25 hotel employees holding different positions, and is focused on identifying the factors that motivate actors to be involved in anti-human-trafficking initiatives, where previous studies were  limited to identifying vulnerabilities of the hotel world or document the awareness and beliefs of hotel employees on human trafficking. The analysis of the data gathered by the authors reveal 5 major elements that are determinants for hotel employees to be engaged and effective in anti-human-trafficking initiatives: training; technology; peer support; organisational system; leadership. According to the authors, these elements articulate a new framework “that will hopefully encourage hospitality leaders and employees to develop and implement anti-human trafficking initiatives within their companies”.

A qualitative assessment of hotel employee engagement in anti-human-trafficking initiatives

An anthropological analysis of an eviction of Ethiopians and Eritreans in Rome
An article written by Aurora Massa and published in Focaal — Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology traces the 2017 eviction of “Piazza Indipendenza”, a building in Rome, Italy, squatted by Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees and migrants, and the short term aftermath of this event for the evicted. Through close monitoring and an ethnographic approach, the author highlights the importance of the concept of “home”, which is to be distinguished from a simple dwelling place, in the conceptual world of the evicted. The author also describes the complex dialogue that takes place around the idea of vulnerability, which is mobilised by the evicted to obtain rights and by the authorities to deprive them of these rights.

“All we need is a home” Eviction, vulnerability, and the struggle for a home by migrants from the Horn of Africa in Rome

News Articles:

Mass graves of trafficked refugees and migrants in Libya
On 28 March, the UN started to investigate the existence of mass graves in the desert surrounding the town of Bani Walid in Libya. The investigation was launched after the publication of the report of the UN Human Right Council’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya on the human rights situation for migrants and refugees in Libya, which eight witnesses had told them of such graves. The number of people potentially buried in these mass graves is still undetermined, and a legal expert has been commissioned to answer this question, says member of the UN mission Chaloka Beyani. According to several testimonies gathered by InfoMigrants and other organisations, the city of Bani Walid contains many places where human traffickers illegally detain, torture, rape and kill migrants.

Report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya by the Human Right Council
UN investigates suspected mass migrant graves in Libya

Facebook involved in a lawsuit alleging human trafficking in Kenya
Facebook parent company Meta is facing a lawsuit for human trafficking, forced labor, union busting and other accusations in Kenya, according to TIME. Sama, an African subcontractor of Meta tasked to moderate Facebook content, flew dozens of workers from all over Africa to Nairobi with “misleading job ads”, according to the lawsuit. Those ads were not warning about the disturbing and potentially traumatic content the workers had to moderate. This situation amounts to human trafficking, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Daniel Motaung, a former outsourced Facebook content moderator, who was fired as he was trying to unionise workers to ask for better working conditions. Like many of his former colleagues, he is now unemployed and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the shocking content he had to moderate. 

Facebook Faces New Lawsuit Alleging Human Trafficking and Union-Busting in Kenya

Disclaimer: All information in these Trends is presented as a fluid update report, as to the best knowledge and understanding of the authors at the moment of publication. EEPA does not claim that the information is correct but verifies to the best of ability within the circumstances. Publication is weighed on the basis of interest to understand potential impacts of events (or perceptions of these) on the situation. Check all information against updates and other media. EEPA does not take responsibility for the use of the information or impact thereof. All information reported originates from third parties and the content of all reported and linked information remains the sole responsibility of these third parties. Report to any additional information and corrections.