You are reading: RSO training supports 13 Member States to centre victim identification and protection of victims when responding to vulnerable migrants RSO training supports 13 Member States to centre victim identification and protection of victims when responding to vulnerable migrants
21 December 2023 | Event
RSO training supports 13 Member States to centre victim identification and protection of victims when responding to vulnerable migrants

Correctly identifying victims of trafficking when responding to vulnerable migrants is the crucial first challenge for frontline officers, laying the groundwork for access to safe and meaningful pathways for protection and support. Over 11-15 December, the RSO partnered with UNITAR CIFAL Jeju to bring together practitioners from law enforcement, immigration, and civil society who work to counter trafficking in persons, with the aim to enhance methods for victim identification and protection.

Addressing key Issues and challenges

Participants—hailing from Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Palau, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam— explored critical ideas around identification of victims, using content drawn from the RSO and Nexus Institute Practitioner Guide on Trafficking Victim Identification, launched earlier this year.

The RSO developed and facilitated this training course based on the first guide in a larger series of RSO and Nexus Insititute Practitioner and Facilitator Guides on Victim Protection and Assistance, which aims to strengthen protection and support for victims of trafficking. The series aims to help operationalise a coordinated approach across services—from ensuring that individuals are correctly identified as victims, to support for legal redress, to rehabilitation and reintegration into communities.

Attendees also heard from experts in the field of victim identification and protection. Dr Borah Park, Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, shared perspectives on common characteristics to understand and look for that might signal someone is a victim of trafficking.

Marieke Jasperse, Senior Advisor in Trafficking in Persons at Immigration New Zealand, underscored the critical role of trauma-informed approaches in trafficking investigations. She noted that, “Trafficking is a largely hidden crime and the voices of trafficking victims are largely hidden too. How those who work with victims talk about them has significant implications for how others think about them and how victims think about themselves.”

Modelling the experiences of victims of trafficking

The training design combined high-quality, timely research with hands-on scenarios. Participants took part in group role-play activities to model the experiences of victims when interacting with law enforcement and border and immigration officials. The scenarios helped to inform thinking around best practice in delivering trauma-informed, victim-sensitive, child-friendly, gender-sensitive, and culturally appropriate approaches to victim identification.

Additionally, a mapping exercise deepened participants’ understanding of cross-border collaboration challenges and opportunities. This exercise also explored the unique scope of human trafficking in each participant’s local context, outlined current mechanisms for support across agenices and with local partners and international organisations, and provided a visualisation of their scope of trafficking-related considerations.

Following the training participants were better equipped to articulate the intricacies of trafficking victim identification, demonstrating a profound appreciation for the experiences of victims and understanding of structural and institutional challenges

Looking Ahead

At the end of the training, participants were inducted to the new RSO Alumni Network, and asked to develop Return to Work Action Plans, which support consideration of how learning can be implemented at an individual, team and agency level.

Amber Osima—Victim Advocate at the Anti Human Trafficking Unit in Palau, noted that, “learning best practices from other Trafficking in Persons practitioners and expanding my network for collaboration has been a crucial outcome from the past week.” She also added that “As the Pacific Island nation geographically closest to our Southeast Asian neighbours, this workshop has elevated my ability to access international counterparts to resolve issues migrant workers face in Palau.”

Dennis Fung—Senior Inspector at the Hong Kong Police Force, stated, “I will share the knowledge we have learned with colleagues in Hong Kong Police to incorporate best practice around victim identification in screening practices, so that we improve our ability to successfully identify victims and can provide support to appropriate pathways.”

The RSO looks forward to following how practitioners apply their new knowledge and skills in the workplace. We also welcome further opportunities for collaboration, dialogue, and capacity building around enhancing trafficking victim identification and protection within the Asia-Pacific region.