Tuesday, 18 Oct 2022  |  Reading time:  11 mins  | Read online

Human trafficking and modern-day slavery

This week, we’re exploring the ways local government can intervene in human trafficking and modern-day slavery. This includes creating stronger procedures to identify individuals in these situations and facilitating their recovery and integration back into the community. All resources have been made open (free registration required for some) and the full bulletin has been shared for this important topic.

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of individuals by others for personal or commercial gain, and includes forced labour and marriages, human trafficking and debt bondage. While often considered a practice of the past, close to 50 million people worldwide are believed to be in a form of slavery across the world today, an increase of 10 million since 2016. While forms of slavery and exploitation affect people of all ages, races, genders and nationalities, women and children remain the worst affected. Many cases go unseen in public life.

Current refugee crises stemming from war in Ukraine, climate disasters, and violent political upheaval in countries such as Afghanistan has massively increased the risk of people falling victim to human trafficking and modern slavery. Desperate people fleeing in unsafe conditions can fall victim to exploitation while moving across countries and from commercial businesses while seeking new livelihoods.

Local government is well-placed to help tackle this crisis. Councils deliver the frontline support to help victims of modern slavery recover and start anew, be it through identifying and referring potential victims or facilitating new housing. In this edition of Global Local we examine how local governments can strengthen these procedures to create better recovery and reintegration outcomes for victims.

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This week's featured content

Modern Slavery – Existing in the shadows

By Louise Honeybul, LGIU Associate

As the issue of modern slavery is global and cases often span across borders, it's easy to forget how effective small, incremental, local action can be in the fight against it. Yet the lack of awareness of modern slavery's pervasiveness in society is a key barrier for local governments, who are often best positioned to deal with the issue, to overcome.

This new briefing examines how councils can raise awareness of the issue internally, so staff are better positioned and informed to identify potential victims and help them receive appropriate support.

It also covers best practices internationally, including strong investigation and reporting networks, referral pathways, and holistic victim support offerings, and highlights several case studies of local governments creating collaborative approaches to supporting the victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

LGIU Global Local Highlights


Reintegrating victims of human trafficking – how do we change the narrative?

In this blog, Anxhela Bruci, founder of EmpowerFULL (a socio-economic model for the reintegration of survivors of human trafficking), discusses the epidemic of modern slavery – with a current victim estimate of over 50 million people – while also highlighting what we can do on a local level to help recovery and reintegration.

Click here to read this blog.

One day at a time: how local authorities can support modern slavery survivors

Lucy Symington, Parliamentary Officer at Anti-Slavery International, discusses the shortcomings of UK policy frameworks designed to help modern slavery victims recover, and how local councils can lead the way in co-designing new processes that lead to better recovery outcomes for victims.

Click here to read this blog.

Modern slavery and the role of local government

This week’s Global Local bulletin focuses on modern slavery and the role local government can play in prevention, detection and support for victims.

Click here to read this blog.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

Spain: Collaborative efforts provide strong support for victims of slavery

In Barcelona, the Municipal Unit against Human Trafficking (UTEH) has been set up to collaborate with local non-profits, the police, and alongside other city council departments. Established in 2017, the service is open to any victim of human trafficking and has supported over 200 people so far. UTEH is a key initiative in Barcelona’s fight against human trafficking and offers social, legal and psychological assistance for the victims it supports. It was established as a result of a technical board seeking to combat human trafficking and modern slavery and which highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts between organisations to tackle detecting cases and providing protection for victims.
Barcelona City Hall | Barcelona Refuge City

Turkey: Creating links between agencies, and reflecting on effective practice

Turkish provincial officials are engaging in social cohesion and harmonisation efforts to galvanise human trafficking procedures supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Presidency of Migration Management (PMM). In 2022, a visit to Kars, Iğdir and Ağri Provincial Directorates of Migration Management (PDMMs) worked to collaborate with local services to create stronger anti-trafficking support. The meeting included provincial directorates, municipal leaders, law enforcement, public prosecutors, and local NGOs. Reflective focus on 2021 activities also involved 17 PDMMs and outlined the collective operating procedures and protective measures being undertaken. 

A series of thematic consultation and evaluations meetings are also being held, with academics from migration research centres participating to strengthen the relationship between public institutions and academic research.
UNHCR Operational Update 2022

USA: Louisville, Kentucky offering free training to prevent and detect modern slavery and convenes resources

The city of Louisville, through its Office for Women, is offering free training to housing, health, law enforcement and community workers to help them identify and prevent modern slavery and human trafficking. “For more than two decades, most local and state policy efforts and funding have been focused on a criminal justice response to human trafficking," said Gretchen Hunt, executive administrator at the Office for Women. “So far, there has been limited successes in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking. More attention is needed to prevent human trafficking before it occurs."

In addition to the training, community organisations are being invited to complete a survey to help map responses and resources in advance of convening community organisations to develop effective approaches in March 2023.

City of Louisville

Policy & Resources

Report: Guidelines for Municipalities: Stepping up local action against Human Trafficking

Commissioned by the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Republic of Latvia, this 2022 document highlights the importance of local action in the fight against modern slavery, and is the culmination of “STROM - Strengthening the Role of Municipalities in the Work against Trafficking in Human Beings in the Baltic Sea Region”

Podcast: Community Partnerships to Address Human Trafficking
Margaret Henderson, Director of the Public Intersection Project at the UNC School of Government, and Angela Sowers, Environmental Health Specialist at Orange County, North Carolina discuss how local government staff can be part of the effort to eliminate human trafficking

Video: GLAA Modern Slavery
Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority video exploring what individuals can do if their concerns are raised, and the correct channels to take to support victims of modern slavery.

Blog: It’s time to eliminate the unacceptable. Together we can end child labour (ILO)
The United Nations has declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, ILO's Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, explains why the time for change is now.

Guide: Guides for eliminating modern slavery
The Local Government Association (England) issued guidance to help councillors understand their role and the role of local government in eliminating modern slavery. Although it contains some guidance relevant to statutory duties in the UK, it also provides good general guidance relevant to many jurisdictions.

Thanks for reading!

Global Local is a subscription service that brings you the best innovation, ideas and experience to be found in local government around the world. We believe that we learn, adapt and deliver better for our communities when we are connected.

Next week, we’ll be bringing you the final edition in our series on community engagement.

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