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DISRUPT consortium met for the 2nd in-person partner meeting in Sofia

Lieselotte Van Den Heuvel
Thursday, 20 June 2024

The DISRUPT Consortium held its second in-person partner meeting on June 5 and 6, 2024 in Sofia (Bulgaria). With the project now more than halfway complete, the consortium reviewed their achievements and outlined the next steps.

The main research activities have concluded, including desk research, roundtable discussions at national and EU levels, and expert validation interviews. This research aimed to identify the state-of-the-art and the gaps in the use of digital evidence in cases of human trafficking (THB), particularly involving children for sexual exploitation. The findings will serve as a foundation to enhance digital-evidence-based investigations, prosecutions, and judicial responses in THB cases, focusing on child victims.

The research specifically aimed to:

  • Compile up-to-date data and provide a clear picture of the current state-of-the-art.
  • Define the relevant stakeholders’ needs.
  • Identify good practices.

The next and final step involves creating the research manual, which was discussed in detail during the partner meeting.

Building on this research, DISRUPT is developing training resources and preparing the organisation of training activities at both national and EU levels. The national training events aim to enhance professionals’ capabilities in digital evidence-based investigations, prosecutions, and judicial responses in THB cases involving children. These events will focus on:

  • The role of technology in recruiting and exploiting children.
  • Using digital tools to detect early signs of child trafficking.
  • Using digital tools in investigating and prosecuting child trafficking cases.
  • Collecting and working with digital evidence in trafficking cases.
  • Taking a victim-centred and gender-responsive approach when dealing with child victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The European training programme includes two events: one in Brussels and one in Vienna. These two-day events aim to facilitate the exchange of best practices and encourage practitioners to identify European-wide solutions through practical exercises. The multidisciplinary approach will help participants develop digital skills for using digital evidence and enhance their understanding of the phenomenon and relevant legislation. These events are expected to significantly increase the impact of the DISRUPT project.

The first EU training event will take place in October 2024, with invitations to be sent out in the coming weeks.

The consortium also discussed upcoming dissemination and communication activities, including a dissemination webinar and the final conference in Brussels in March 2025.

A dissemination webinar, scheduled for September 2024, will focus on “How to Recognise Signs of Child Trafficking in the Digital Space?” and is targeted at teachers. The objective is to raise awareness and sensitize teachers about the risks of human trafficking for children and the signs of child trafficking victims. This webinar will highlight the modus operandi and patterns of perpetrators.

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