Identifying and investigating human trafficking for labour exploitation is a challenging task. Apart from organised crime groups, many businesses have the opportunity to profit from labour exploitation. Legal businesses are being used to cover up or to participate in a long supply chain by occasional and/or professional labour exploitation groups. Outsourcing of work or services to subcontractors or use of temporary workers in flexible employment relationships heighten the risk of exploitative work practices.
Law enforcement agencies and businesses alike are responsible for detecting labour exploitation and creating an environment where such a crime is no longer profitable. In order to involve the relevant stakeholders in the challenge, the Center for the Study of Democracy, together with the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the British Embassy in Bulgaria, organised an online public discussion entitled, Human Trafficking for Labour Exploitation: Tools for Successful Investigation and Prevention in Supply Chains on 18 November 2020. In the discussion, which was part of the initiative “Flows of Illicit Fundsand victims of human trafficking: uncovering the complexities (FLOW)” supported by the European Commission, various stakeholders shared their views on good practices in relation to identification of victims, investigation of trafficking crimes and responsibility of businesses for prevention of labour exploitation in their supply chains.
Session 1 of the discussion focused on detection and investigation of human trafficking for labour exploitation. Two cases of best practices from Bulgaria and the UK were presented and the importance of proactive investigation and the use of Joint Investigation Teams were stressed. These aspects are also present in the Uncovering labour trafficking manual, together with a checklist for authorities and other regulatory bodies carrying out on-site visits. The tool was designed to facilitate identification of labour exploitation cases, especially considering the fact victims may be reluctant to cooperate with the authorities. Thus, investigating other crimes committed in connection to human trafficking, e.g. tax evasion, document falsification or fraud, could lead to the uncovering of labour exploitation.
Session 2 focused on the complex dynamics of supply chains and the importance of engaging the private sector in the fight against human trafficking for labour exploitation, as it has a primary role in prevention. In addition to regulatory guidance from experts in the field, a best practice from the British cosmetic company LUSH was presented. An overview of prevention of labour trafficking recommendations could be found in the risk management toolkit Navigating through your supply chain: Toolkit for prevention of labour exploitation and trafficking, which businesses can consult and implement throughout their practice.