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Despite its illegality, human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global business and is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world. In an effort to increase awareness of the issue, Maplecroft is releasing a freely available report to highlight the legal, moral and reputational risks to business that can arise from complicity, either direct or indirect, in human trafficking activities.

Human trafficking is contrary to international law and international human rights law, and often constitutes a violation of national laws. Nonetheless, according to the ILO, approximately 2.4 million men, women and children are internationally and domestically trafficked for the purposes of: commercial sexual exploitation; forced labour; domestic servitude and the removal of organs at any given point in time.

Trafficking activities pose a pertinent risk to businesses operating in all countries. The risk is particularly great when supply chains extend into emerging economies where human trafficking and forced labour are more prevalent. According to Maplecroft’s Trafficking Index a number of key emerging economies are categorised as ‘extreme risk' countries for trafficking, including China (1st), India (7th), Russia (11th) and Indonesia (14th).

The aim of Maplecroft’s report, Trafficking: A global phenomenon with an exploration of India through maps, is to expand understanding of trafficking and the risks it poses to businesses by bringing together existing information on trafficking, as well as suggesting how this data and information can be improved to inform prevention strategies in the future. It not only includes detailed analysis of the issue and the available quantitative data used to measure trafficking, the report provides specific analysis and maps of trafficking in India, where it is a known widespread problem.

According to the report, direct involvement in trafficking includes the recruitment, transport, harbouring, or receipt of a person for the purpose of exploitation. However, for the great majority of responsible companies, who would neither condone nor partake in the practice of human trafficking, Maplecroft states that the risks lie in the potential for them to be unwittingly implicated if their premises, products or services are used by traffickers for the purpose of trafficking, such as smuggling of victims via cross-border logistics routes. The report also highlights the way in which businesses may also be indirectly linked to trafficking through the actions of their suppliers or business partners, including sub-contractors, labour brokers or private employment agencies.

Maplecroft also suggests potential opportunities for action for businesses and NGOs to improve the quantitative data available and work together to mitigate the risks of trafficking and proactively contribute to the prevention of girl trafficking.

One such option, building on the aims of exploratory research funded by the Nike Foundation and conducted by Maplecroft, is to develop an interactive mapping platform, using SMS systems, to prevent the trafficking of girls in India. This system would be a “living” trafficking detection tool that can be utilised by citizens, employees, NGO workers, law enforcement officials among others to identify and report incidences of trafficking as they happen. As a result there would be richer, more update to data available so anti-trafficking policies and programmes could be targeted at areas where they could have the most impact.

“Responsible businesses should seek to mitigate the risks of complicity in trafficking activities,” states Maplecroft CEO, Alyson Warhurst. “They should also consider proactively seeking opportunities for action in the prevention of trafficking. The benefits of doing so include the opportunity to develop a reputation for responsible business practices, with positive implications for brand and shareholder value.”

Further to this, the 2012 games in the UK may become a target for criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking because of a perceived heightened demand for sexual services and cheap labour warn anti-trafficking campaigners. Whilst human trafficking takes place regardless of major sporting events, concerns remain that the additional people required in the build up to such events, in areas such as construction, and a perceived increase in a demand for prostitution may lead to an increase in human trafficking. Quantitative evidence from previous sporting events, such as the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, is mixed and often disputed. However, anecdotal evidence points to a risk of labour exploitation in certain sectors, such as construction and hospitality.

Download the report

Press enquiries:

Jason McGeown, Head of Communications
Tel: +44 (0)1225 420000

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