Supplementary meeting in Vienna on the protection of the rights of trafficked persons

Protecting the rights of trafficked persons was the subject of the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting of the OSCE, which took place on 18-19 July in Hofburg, Vienna.

The event was organized by the Polish Chairmanship of the OSCE and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and all the opinions, recommendations and speeches of the participants stemmed from concerns about the vulnerability of potential victims of human trafficking in conditions of Russian aggression on Ukraine.

The third Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting in 2022 served as a platform to discuss how to better protect the rights of victims of human trafficking and comprised three sessions.

The first session focused on the rights of victims of child trafficking and the specific challenges faced by these vulnerable targets.

The second session focused on means to combat human trafficking in the context of armed conflicts.

The third session, amid the rapid growth in the use of online platforms to recruit and exploit victims, focused on discussions about how to combat human trafficking in cyberspace.

The meeting was attended by representatives of OSCE member states and institutions, OSCE executive structures, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, representatives of civil society and researchers from 57 participating states with relevant experience in the field.

Attending the event, Elena Botezatu, Executive Director of La Strada Moldova, noted that in recent years online sexual exploitation of children has been gaining momentum: “Our research shows the increased role of technologies in facilitating the recruitment of potential victims for the purpose of sexual exploitation or for the distribution of materials with abusive content on children. In recent years, we have been working in collaboration with INHOPE and other international organizations to establish a service for reporting child sexual abuse materials in Moldova.”

She also outlined some recommendations on this topic, including: providing OSCE support to review national anti-trafficking legislation from the perspective of information technologies being used to commit crimes, as well as from the perspective of new challenges determined by the fact that Moldova has now become a country of transit and destination for possible victims of human trafficking who fled the war in Ukraine; providing international expertise to improve the national legal framework that would ensure a more efficient cooperation of law enforcement bodies with ICT companies, reporting and removing child sexual abuse material from the internet.

“Another challenge is related to identifying cases of human trafficking in cyberspace. There is a shaky demarcation between child trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, facilitated by the use of technologies, grooming, child pornography and other forms of cyber violence. How do we delineate all these illegalities in practice? Especially when legislation does not have specific provisions regarding human trafficking in cyberspace, and we need to review the perspective through which we investigate and address these cases, taking into account developments. It is necessary to have a comprehensive approach, both from the perspective of ensuring alignment of the legal framework with international standards and from the perspective of investigation carried out by anti-trafficking police units and the police unit specialized in cybercrimes. Cooperation between states, but also at national level between different police units and other anti-trafficking actors, is necessary for a more efficient investigation of cases of online sexual exploitation of children,” said Elena Botezatu in her speech.



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