On 11 and 12 October, the DISRUPT project consortium met in Malta for their first in-person partner meeting.
The project coordinator, University of Malta, invited the partners (Law and Internet Foundation(Bulgaria), CESIE (Italy), VICESSE (Austria) and Victim Support Europe) for meeting over a day and a half to discuss the project’s next implementation steps.
Background DISRUPT project
With daunting consequences to all parties involved, Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) is one of the most lucrative crimes and one of the most severe violations of fundamental rights in the world. The number of victims identified remains low, and when trafficked victims are identified, authorities rely on their testimonies as the main source of evidence. Increases in technology-facilitated THB and the threat this poses to children, heighten the need for alternative approaches to dismantling such threats.
To respond to the lack of reliable evidence, the high risk of secondary victimisation when testifying, and the safeguarding of children, DISRUPT aims to improve investigations, prosecutions, and judicial responses that depend on digital evidence in cases dealing with the trafficking of children.
Beginning with the need for an effective and comprehensive response to the challenges associated with the technology-facilitated trafficking of children, the DISRUPT project will develop an innovative framework for the future use of digital evidence, which will increase the capabilities of digital-evidence-based investigations into, prosecutions of, and judicial responses to THB.
Partner meeting 11 & 12 October 2023
The consortium began the meeting with an update on the national and European desk research, which is the first phase of the project’s fieldwork. The overall objective of this research is to identify state-of-the-art as well as the gaps in the use of digital evidence for cases of THB, especially in cases of trafficking children for sexual exploitation. This will serve as a first step towards one of the project’s general objectives; that of increasing the capabilities of digital-evidence-based investigations, prosecutions, and judicial responses in cases of THB focusing on child victims. Partners discussed the work that has been done so far and how to approach the next step of this research, namely the roundtable discussions that will take place in each partner country.
The next topic on the agenda was the planning of national capacity building activities, which aim to introduce a multidisciplinary focus on the acquisition, decryption and analysis of digital evidence as well as their admissibility. EU level workshops, to promote the exchange of best practices and identification of European-wide solutions, will also be organised.
Finally, the dissemination and communication efforts of the different partners were discussed and evaluated in order to improve the impact of the recently launched social media campaign (under #TraffickingFreeWorld). Partners further strategized on the development of the DISRUPT graphic novel, which will target judiciary and law enforcement agencies.