Go back
Story icon

Collecting information on human trafficking

Online volunteers help expand tool to counter global human trafficking

05 Jul 2013

Online volunteers are among the diverse contributors – governments, law schools, non-governmental organizations, national trafficking coordinators, as well as law firms – to assist the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the expansion of the Human Trafficking Case Law Database. They translate and summarize human trafficking cases to be included in the growing database, which currently counts around 900 cases from 76 countries.

The database is a public online tool to collect and disseminate information on human trafficking prosecutions and convictions from all over the world. The ultimate goal of the database is to make available knowledge that will contribute to increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions for human trafficking globally. As the only global public record of human trafficking crimes, the database is an essential tool to increase the visibility of successful prosecutions, identify global patterns, and promote awareness of the realities of this devastating crime. It serves as a practitioners’ tool for police investigators, prosecutors and judges; a monitoring tool for government policy-makers; an awareness-raising tool for the public and media; as well as an information tool for researchers and all those responding to trafficking in persons.

UNODC provides the online volunteers with materials, instructions, timelines and expected outcomes, and remains available for consultations or clarifications. The cases received from the online volunteers are then reviewed and uploaded to the database. “Thanks to the collaboration with UN Online Volunteers, to date, we have been able to add about 20 new case briefs from 4 jurisdictions to the UNODC Human Trafficking Case Law Database. So far, the cooperation with online volunteers has been very smooth, with all volunteers being enthusiastic to learn about the problem of human trafficking and doing an excellent work for the database,” says Tatiana Balisova, who coordinates UNODC’s collaboration with the online volunteers.

Mildred Rodriguez is a lawyer from Paraguay specializing in migration issues, public safety, development, and anti-human trafficking, and summarized cases in English and Spanish. She volunteered in her own community as well before becoming an enthusiastic online volunteer. “I chose to volunteer for UNODC because I am really worried about human trafficking in my country and around the world. I wanted to help to combat what I think is one of the most heinous crimes,” she says.

A Russian citizen living in Belgium, Ekaterina Voronina has two Master’s degrees in Law from St. Petersburg State University and the University of Brussels, as well as five years’ experience in different legal fields. “I was always interested in human rights and I was looking for different opportunities to work in this field. I did some voluntary work for a human rights NGO before I discovered online volunteering, which I like because I can do this from my home and in the days and hours that are convenient for me. I enjoyed translating three summaries of cases from Russian and certainly learned something new.”

Tina Martin, who is from Ireland and lives in the U.K., completed her Masters of Law in 2011 specializing in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and currently works as Research Associate to Birmingham Law School. Her prior experience of living and working in countries where she witnessed the injustice afforded to migrant populations inspired her to volunteer for promoting the rights of the most vulnerable. “I chose to volunteer for the UNODC by summarizing human trafficking cases because I believe their Human Trafficking Case Law Database is of ineffable importance. UNODC is a truly incredible organisation, providing a voice for those victims most often forgotten. I am proud to say I played a small role in their mission and would strongly encourage anyone to give their time, however limited it may be, to such a worthwhile cause.

For Tatiana Balisova, the collaboration with online volunteers was a positive experience: “No country is immune to the problem of human trafficking, and we are happy to see that volunteers from different backgrounds and countries are interested to contribute to the work of the case law database. We look forward to continuing working with UN Online Volunteers in the future.”