As the United Nations marks its eighth World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is shining a spotlight on the role of technology as a tool that can be used for good or evil: enabling or impeding human trafficking.

The already precarious conditions of victims and people vulnerable to trafficking are being exacerbated by the continuing pandemic, Russia’s war against the Ukraine and other conflicts, and traffickers’ increasing use of technology. The internet and digital platforms offer numerous tools to recruit, exploit, and control victims; organize their transport and accommodation; advertise victims and reach out to potential clients; communicate among perpetrators; and hide criminal proceeds, and all with greater speed, cost-effectiveness and anonymity, notes the UNODC on its website.

Even before the pandemic, the number of detected human trafficking incidents were high. In 2018, the most recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons from the UNODC, found approximately 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries, with women making up 46% of victims and girls, 19%.

Law enforcement, criminal justice systems, financial institutions and other partners are also working to leverage technology to detect suspected human traffickers online and providing support services to survivors.

Scotiabank has been actively championing initiatives that aim to end human trafficking and leveraging technology, such as artificial intelligence,  to improve financial institutions’ ability to detect, disrupt and report financial transactions associated with these horrific crimes.

Take a look at some of the recent Perspectives pieces highlighting this global issue and learn more about how partnerships across industry and the public sector, such as Project Protect, Project Shadow and The Financial Access Program, are working to tackle the problem: