By Sebastián Arévalo Sánchez - Latin American Regional Representative, Traffik Analysis Hub
Friday 30th April 2021
In partnership with the Colombian non-profit organisation, Fundación Pasos Libres, Traffik Analysis Hub opened its first Regional Office in Latin America in January this year. It is part of an expansion strategy that seeks to increase the number of active members, establish strategic partnerships, accelerate data collection, and provide permanent support in diverse idioms to the global TAHub community. The concept of the Regional Office is to unite every Latin American country and organisation around understanding and disrupting human trafficking through data-driven collaboration, intelligence analysis and continuous research.
The Regional Office, based in Bogotá, Colombia works in coordination with the Headquarters in London and seeks to expand participation with Financial Institutions, Law Enforcement Agencies, Government Entities, International Corporations, Businesses and Non-Profit Organisations as authenticated members of the initiative. It also collects human trafficking data from the continent and supports the Latin American members in different aspects of its TAHub membership.
To date, the Latin American Regional Office has facilitated 20 demos for organisations in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Canada. It has also collected 18,055 human trafficking incident reports, that pertain to missing persons intelligence, business and points of interest data, which has advanced the mapping of concrete initiatives to support the region including two technological innovation competitions against human trafficking.
The Latin American Regional Office opens in a context in which, from one side, human trafficking cases are expected to increase due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and, from the other, where anti-trafficking organisations, businesses, and even governments face significant challenges to collect, store, process, analyse and use data as part of their operations.
The presence of armed and criminal groups, inequality, corruption, weak legislation, and the abundance of raw materials are some of the factors that make all the Latin American and Caribbean countries locations of origin, transit, and destination for human trafficking victims. To make matters worse, Covid-19 has generated a deep economic crisis that increases the vulnerability of the region’s inhabitants to human trafficking and limits government response. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2021), poverty reached historic levels in 2020, with 209 million people living in need, which opens new exploitation opportunities for the traffickers both locally and internationally.
Additionally, an initial review conducted by the Regional Office has revealed that most organisations that fight human trafficking in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru collect and analyse data on an as-needed basis and not as part of their regular operations. Despite this, there are some data-driven organisations collecting and using data to develop impactful anti-trafficking initiatives. As in many other regions, there is still no feasible option to develop a clear view on the scale and the nature of human trafficking in Latin America. Within this scenario, as the complex interaction between the current social and economic crisis and the structural problems in the region shape new human trafficking dynamics, the need to not only describe the issue but also to understand, diagnose and predict it becomes particularly relevant. The Latin American Regional Office has a vital role to play, not only in providing access to TAHub’s cutting-edge technology but also in building capacity with the local organisations to help them utilise it. By doing this, TAHub will accelerate the development of a more comprehensive regional picture into the scale and the nature of human trafficking in Latin America and help its members to navigate this challenging panorama.
About Fundación Pasos Libres
Fundación Pasos Libres is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to revolutionise the way to prevent and disrupt human trafficking through the design, development, and implementation of innovative strategies, methodologies, and technologies. Pasos Libres was one of the earliest adopters and the first Latin American organisation to join the TAHub.
For more information about Pasos Libres visit: https://fundacionpasoslibres.org/en/