A new report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has revealed that armed groups and terrorists enslaving and exploiting women and children to generate funds and recruit new members are driving rising levels of human trafficking across the globe.
The report, which focusses on human trafficking in armed conflict zones, notes how countries are detecting and reporting more victims, and are also convicting more perpetrators of the crime.
It highlights a rise in the number of children being trafficked, who now account for 30% of detected victims, with far more girls being targeted than boys.
Some 59% of human trafficking cases relate to sexual exploitation, UNODC found, making this the main reason victims are targeted.
In total, the UNODC identified 40% more victims of human trafficking in 2016 than it did 2011, mostly as a result of the broader geographical coverage of data collection.
The agency noted that the increased number of victims detected may suggest that more trafficking is taking place, or that countries are making better use of more efficient tools and procedures to identify victims.
According to the study, a combination of different elements that typically characterise armed conflict increase the chances of trafficking taking place, including social and economic vulnerabilities, the erosion of the rule of law, and the breakdown of state institutions.
Another major factor driving human trafficking is forced displacement, which can be a major contributory factor to an individual’s vulnerability to falling victim to the crime.
The most frequently reported forms of human trafficking in conflict zones include the kidnap of victims for the purposes of sexual slavery, the recruitment of children into armed groups, forced labour, and the abduction of women and girls for the purposes of forced marriages.
It is thought that the rise in the number of cases of human trafficking could have been partly caused by displaced populations from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar fleeing conflict and persecution being targeted trafficking gangs.
Unveiling the report at a special event held by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) with Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said: “Child soldiers, forced labour, sexual slavery – human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters.
“This report shows that we need to step up technical assistance and strengthen cooperation, to support all countries to protect victims and bring criminals to justice, and achieve the sustainable development goals.”
Interpol-coordinated operation results in shutdown of international dark web paedophile ring
A two-year Interpol-led investigation into an international paedophile network has resulted in the rescue of 50 suspected child abuse victims, as well as the arrest and prosecution of multiple sex offenders in Australia, Thailand and the US, the international law enforcement agency has announced.
Interpol said that it expects more suspects to be detained and charged as police in approaching 60 nations proceed with investigations launched as a result of evidence gathered during the operation, which targeted a hidden dark web paedophile platform with some 63,000 users across the globe.
Operation Blackwrist, which is said to have been named after a bracelet worn by one of the suspected offenders detained during the probe, was launched after Interpol found child sexual exploitation material that was traced back to a subscription-based site on the dark web.
Interpol said the content depicted the abuse of 11 boys, all of whom were aged under 13.
The website published new indecent images every week over the course of a number of years, during which time its administrator took great care to avoid identification, even going so far as to mask the children that were abused in the material he posted online.
Investigators from Interpol sought help from international law enforcement agencies after using the physical characteristics of the children who appeared in the content posted on the website to track their abuse.
The first victims were identified back in November 2017, leading to the detention of numerous suspets linked to the website two months later in Australia and Thailand, where the website’s main administrator was identified as Montri Salangam.
Interpol said Salangam was the man seen abusing the 11 boys that featured in the content that initially alerted the agency to the website.
The children, who included the man’s nephew, had been lured to Salangam’s home with meals, internet access and football games.
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock commented: “Operation Blackwrist sends a clear message to those abusing children, producing child sexual exploitation material and sharing the images online: We see you, and you will be brought to justice.”
“Every child abuse image is evidence of a crime and Interpol will always provide its full support to officers on the ground to help identify and rescue victims around the world.”
Separately, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service yesterday revealed that a paedophile deputy headteacher of a school in London had been jailed for 28 months after being found guilty of live-streaming children being sexually abused while he was high on cocaine and methamphetamine.
Paul Newbury, 50, was caught when undercover police officers infiltrated the chat rooms he was using, and filmed him sitting naked on his sofa smoking drugs as he watched a live video of a girl aged around eight being abused.
Scotland is drug death capital of Europe, new study reveals
Scotland has the highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe, and fatalities linked to the consumption of substances such as heron in the country are on the rise, according to a new report from a government agency.
A statistical update from Audit Scotland on the nation’s drug and alcohol services has revealed that drug-related deaths rose to 934 in 2017, a 71% increase on the 525 people who lost their lives as a consequence of drug consumption in 2009.
Seventy-six percent of those deaths occurred in the 35 years and over age group, suggesting that drug problems are increasingly affecting older people in Scotland.
The most significant increase in drug-related deaths in this age category was recorded in people aged 45 and over, who accounted for 37% of fatalities in 2017, up from 20% of the total in 2009.
According to the update, opioids are the most problematic group of drugs, and are implicated in the majority of drug-related deaths in the country.
The study also found that while use of new psychoactive substances such as the synthetic cannabinoid Spice has declined in the general population since the introduction of the UK government’s Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, these types of drugs are still causing significant harm among vulnerable groups such as prisoners.
Commenting on the findings outlined in the update, Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner said: “The last decade has seen several notable achievements in drug and alcohol treatment in Scotland, including more recovery communities, improved drug harm reduction strategies and minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
“But without clear performance data around what measures are working, the government will continue to find it hard to achieve its aim of reducing deaths and better supporting people to recover.”
Earlier this week, the Press Association reported that former addicts had told UK Parliament’s Commons Scottish Affairs Committee that providing users of drugs such as heroin with replacement treatments such as methadone is leaving them wandering around “like zombies”.
Former heroin addict Sharon Brand, who now runs the Recovery Dundee charity, told the committee: “There’s people who have been on methadone since they were 15, 30 years now, there’s two generations in each family who are either on methadone or a chaotic user.
“I’ve not got a great opinion of methadone. I think done right, for a very short period, it could work but I think there are a lot more and better ways to help somebody get past that stage.”
European police forces dismantle major organised crime network that made €680 million in two years
A Europol-coordinated operation involving law enforcement agencies from the UK, Spain, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia has resulted in the break-up of a sophisticated organised criminal network that is thought to have raked in hundreds of millions of euros over a two-year period.
The gang, which is said to have been made of Lithuanian nationals and members from other EU countries, made huge profits from activities including drug smuggling, cigarette trafficking, assassinations and money laundering.
Police taking part in the operation, which was codenamed Icebreaker, and is reported to have been the largest of its kind to take place in Europe to date, carried out raids on 40 properties in Poland, Lithuania and Spain, during which €8 million ($8.94 million) in cash was seized, along with high-value items including diamonds, gold bars, jewellery and luxury vehicles.
During the raids, which were conducted on Wednesday and Thursday last week, a total of 22 suspects were arrested in the UK, Poland, Lithuania and Spain, where a 48-year-old Lithuanian man was detained on suspicion of leading the network.
Investigators estimate that the gang made a profit of some €680 million as a result of its illicit activities between 2017 and 2019 alone, during which time its members are suspected to have trafficked large quantities of drugs and illicit tobacco into Britain.
The proceeds of the network’s criminal activity was laundered through currency exchange offices before being invested in properties in Spain and other countries.
According to Europol, senior members of the gang used counter-surveillance and counter-intelligence techniques, as well as specialised encrypted communication devices, in a bid to avoid the attention of law enforcement authorities.
In total, more than 450 police and customs officers took part in Operation Icebreaker, with agencies contributing to the effort including Lithuania’s Criminal Police Bureau, the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs, the Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, and Spain’s Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional.
In a statement, Europol said: “The creation of an Operational Task Force between all five countries and Europol in November 2018 had a catalytic effect on the scale and the intensity of the investigation, facilitating the development of a joint strategy to target the whole network. It led to carrying out one of the largest covert police operations recently against an organized crime group.
“Due to the demanding investigative measures run on an international level, Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) were set up between the cooperating countries with the assistance of Eurojust.”
- Interpol-coordinated operation results in shutdown of international dark web paedophile ring
- The deadly codeine-based cough syrup cocktail US pop culture is spreading across the globe
- Scotland is drug death capital of Europe, new study reveals
- European police forces dismantle major organised crime network that made €680 million in two years
- Australian terrorist financing investigation results in disruption of major cigarette smuggling conspiracy
9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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