Trafficking in persons – UNODC: Lack of data could lead to ineffective anti-trafficking policies

Rebecca Miller, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime during a Interpol TV Interview. Picture: INTERPOL YOUTUBE

Lack of trafficking in persons (TIP) data in the Pacific could lead to ineffective anti-trafficking policies and practices.

This, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regional co-ordinator for Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in South-East Asia and Pacific, Rebecca Miller.

She made the comments in her opening remarks of a virtual training on data collection, analysis and reporting on trafficking in persons this month attended by more than 100 people from 10 Pacific Island countries.

The UNODC said the training focused on how to improve collection of statistics on trafficking in persons for analytical purposes and how to share findings through reporting and data visualisation.

The training also focused on analysing trends, patterns and flows, to create the basis for accurate crime monitoring and data-driven responses.

“Unfortunately, there is very little trafficking data in the Pacific and this lack or neglect of evidence can lead to ineffective anti-trafficking policies and practices,” Ms Miller said.

“This training will strengthen all of our capacities to collect and report solid data on human trafficking to ensure our efforts to combat human trafficking are driven by evidence.”

She said UNODC was advancing work on testing methods to help uncover the magnitude of trafficking and assist countries to measure progress towards attaining Sustainable Development Goals 5, 8 and 16, which included targets on human trafficking.

She acknowledged Pacific stakeholders who have engaged virtually with UNODC since the launch of the ‘UNODC Trafficking in Persons Pacific Data Project’ in 2020 – particularly, Fijian stakeholders for piloting a new research method to estimate the hidden figure of trafficking.

The UNODC TIP Pacific Data Project is funded by the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and aimed to strengthen human trafficking data collection systems in the Pacific. Daniel Evensen from the US State Department office said they should not lose sight of the purpose of data on trafficking in persons, “which is ultimately to have the information needed to prevent the crime and prevent individuals becoming victims”.

The training course, conducted by the UNODC Crime Research Section, attracted participants from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, Nauru and Vanuatu.

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