Banking on an end to Human Trafficking?

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Leading UK price comparison website, compareandsave.com, comments on the recent news from the US, published by Thomson Reuters Foundation, that major banks have met with Police forces to tackle the problem of Human Trafficking.

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Banks against Human Trafficking

...it’s great to see that the World’s leading banks are helping do their bit in the fight against it.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO, 01 June 2012) about 21m people across the globe (3 people every 1,000), are modern day slaves; victims of forced labour that have been deceived or coerced into their jobs and which they cannot leave.

It has been estimated, by the ILO (2012), that almost half of them are being trafficked either across countries or within their own. The majority of modern slaves (about 7m) end up working in private houses (as nannies or servants), factories and farms; the rest are forced into the sex trade.

Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF, 24 March 2013) organised, for the first time, a meeting between law enforcement agencies and main financial institutions to try to identify possible avenues in which the organizations could cooperate to tackle the major problem of human trafficking.

According to Cyrus Vance, as stated in the TRF (2013) article, “All sorts of electronic and digital fingerprints are left when you have a crime committed or a business enterprise is being run.” The US State department has estimated that this “criminal enterprise” is worth $32 billion a year! “Trafficking at its heart is a crime motivated by money, and we have seen over the course of our prosecutions that there is much to be made. Financial institutions are in a unique position to spot red flags in banking activity and report them to law enforcement.”

Although EU and US banks have a duty to report any suspicious illegal activity and there are methods to identify crimes, there has been little effort to apply them against human trafficking.

During the meeting, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, TD Bank, Barclays, Western Union and American Express founded a group to fight human trafficking under the management of the Manhattan District Attorney and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF 2013).    

According to Martina Vandenberg, president of the Washington Pro Bono Legal Center, which is involved with human trafficking cases, one of the hardest things when prosecuting human trafficking cases, is collecting evidence (apart from victim testimonies),as stated in the TRF (2013) article. This new effort might prove to be a valuable weapon against traffickers. "We have never before bridged this idea of financial crime and human trafficking. Bringing these two worlds together will, I think, only increase the number of trafficking prosecutions that we see in the United States and also around the world."

A compareandsave.com spokesperson commented:

“Human trafficking and slavery are major global issues and it’s great to see that the World’s leading banks are helping do their bit in the fight against it.

"Hopefully, assuming it is successful; we’ll soon see this template for improving trafficking and slavery prosecutions rolled out into other countries, like the UK.”
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compareandsave.com is one of the UK’s leading personal finance comparison websites. Based in Colchester, Essex, compareandsave.com has been helping UK consumers get a better deal on credit cards, saving, loans and more for over five years.

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Mark Scott
Freedom Marketing Limited
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