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Identification of Victims of Human Trafficking


Human trafficking is one of the most difficult and difficult forms of crime to detect.

In most cases, these cases are difficult to detect as the victims are among undocumented irregular migrants or forced laborers in remote and secluded areas. Similarly, illegal commercial sex work is a form of human trafficking that makes it very difficult to identify victims, due to the inherent secrecy and the perception of “immorality” in the public and law enforcement agencies in the name of this illegal activity. In many cases, victims avoid talking because they fear or depend on traffickers, they or their families are threatened, they do not feel psychologically ready, they are not aware of what they are going through, they do not feel safe, they are afraid of being sent back, they do not have documents, they are afraid of being tried or the law enforcement officers.

Detection studies against such situations are carried out in different dimensions. Examples of these are field studies, hotlines and actions taken by law enforcement.

Field studies are a type of detection, in which different approaches can be made to victims of human trafficking. For example, during a sexual health project to be carried out with sex workers, activities can be carried out to identify victims of human trafficking. Another example, during a project that includes activities for street children, can be carried out to find child victims. In this sense, it is important to include non-governmental organizations that carry out different activities in the detection mechanisms.

Helplines are another important method used for detection work. These lines, which are easily accessible in different languages ​​and have the ability to direct the victim directly to protection services, are working with these hotlines and are used extensively in many geographies today. For example, the phone number 157, which started its operations as an emergency communication line to assist victims of human trafficking in Turkey in May 2005, was taken over by the General Directorate of Migration Management and its service network expanded, as of 20 August 2015, under the name Foreigners Communication Center (YIMER 157). started to serve in different languages.

Although the detection works of the law enforcement forces are carried out by their own mechanisms and operations, many geographies do not have the desired effectiveness. Reasons for this include the threat of traffickers, past bad experiences with law enforcement in the country of origin, victims’ silence or indifference during interrogations due to post-traumatic stress disorder, law enforcement’s lack of sufficient financial or extremely important workforce resources such as experienced translators. Law enforcement may have inadequate training or the wrong approach to the issue. The belief that the victim must bear all the marks on paper, called the “ideal victim” in law enforcement psychology, may be present in investigators. Against all these negative possibilities, it is necessary to ensure the continuity of improvement studies and training/equipment activities for the identification of victims.

In order to improve the detection work, it is necessary to announce the good services performed by both state bodies and law enforcement officers and make improvements in these services. These improvements include: Developing guidelines and procedures for relevant State officials and authorities such as police, border guards, immigration officials and others involved in the detection, detention, reception and processing of irregular migrants to allow rapid and accurate identification of trafficked persons. Providing appropriate training to relevant State authorities and officials in identifying victims of trafficking and in the correct application of the guidelines and procedures referred to above, Ensuring cooperation between relevant authorities, authorities and non-governmental organizations to facilitate the identification and provision of assistance to victims of trafficking, and the organization of such cooperation and its implementation and formalization to maximize its effectiveness will ensure that migrants and potential migrants are warned of the potential dangers and consequences of trafficking and seek help when necessary. Identification of appropriate points of intervention to ensure that trafficked persons are not prosecuted for activities they are involved in as a direct result of violations of immigration laws or victimization, that trafficked persons are under no circumstances detained in camps or removal centres. Receiving and evaluating asylum requests from both victims of trafficking and illegal asylum seekers, ensuring that they are not held in other forms of detention.

Key Signs of Victim Trafficking

  • Victim’s belief that he has to work against his will
  • Cannot leave workspace
  • Shows signs that its movements are controlled
  • Feeling that she cannot leave her environment/place/work
  • Showing fear or anxiety
  • Exposed to violence or threats of violence against themselves, their families or loved ones
  • Appearance of physical violence wounds
  • Exposing certain job-specific injuries or physical impairment
  • Exposing injuries that appear to be the result of applying control measures (whip marks, repeated blows to invisible places, etc.)
  • Not trusting the authorities
  • Threatened to be handed over to the authorities
  • Fear of disclosure of irregular immigrant status
  • Own or have passports or other travel or identity documents
  • Having fake ID or travel documents
  • Being in a place that is used to exploit people, or in connection with a place that is likely to happen
  • Unfamiliar with the local language
  • Not knowing your home or work address
  • Allowing others to speak for him/her when addressed directly
  • Speaking from someone else’s mouth or as if informed by someone in a query or interview
  • Forcing it to work under certain conditions
  • Being disciplined through punishment
  • Not negotiating/not knowing working conditions
  • Little or no pay
  • No access to earnings
  • Working for long periods or indefinite shifts
  • No day off
  • Living or living in poorly maintained or substandard places
  • Lack of access to medical services
  • Have limited or zero social interaction
  • Having limited contact with people outside of their family or close circle
  • Inability to communicate freely with others
  • Being under the impression that they are bound by debt
  • Depending on someone/feeling obliged
  • Indicators of Sexual Exploitation in the Meaning of Human Trafficking
    • Being less than 30 years old, although the age of the victim may vary by region and market
    • Transferring from one brothel to another or working in different places
    • For work, shops, etc. accompanying them on their way out and every time they go out
    • Presence of tattoos or other marks on the victim that indicate “ownership” of their abuser
    • Very long working hours and few/no permits
    • Sleeping/sheltering at work
    • Living or traveling in a group, sometimes with other women who do not speak the same language
    • Having too few clothes
    • Has the type of clothing usually worn for commercial sex work
    • Knowledge only commercial sex-related words in the local language or the language of the client group
    • No money of their own
    • No ID/passport etc
    • There is evidence that the victim has had unprotected and/or violent sexual intercourse
    • There is evidence that the potential victim cannot refuse unprotected and/or violent sex.
    • Existence of evidence that a person has been traded
    • Existence of evidence that victim groups/women are under the control of others
    • Advertisements for brothels or similar places that only serve women of a particular ethnicity or nationality.
    • Reporting that sex workers provide services to a client of a particular ethnicity or nationality.
    • Reporting that the sex worker does not smile or cooperate during the interviews


Indicators of Forced Labor for Human Trafficking

  • People who are likely to be victims of forced labor live in groups where they work and rarely leave these buildings
  • Living in degraded, unsuitable places such as agricultural or industrial buildings that have previously been used or still have waste
  • Persons who are likely to be victims of forced labor are not dressed appropriately for the job they are doing, eg protective equipment, warm clothing, etc. their absence.
  • They only eat leftovers
  • Don’t have access to their earnings
  • No employment contract
  • Working during extreme hours
  • Being dependent on their employer for a range of services, including work, transportation and accommodation
  • No accommodation option
  • Never leave the workplace without an employer or companion
  • Not able to move freely
  • The presence of security measures designed to keep them in the workplace
  • Being disciplined with fines
  • Exposed to insults, harassment, threats or violence
  • Lack of basic business training or licenses
  • Workplace signs for employees are published in languages ​​other than the local language.
  • No health and safety warnings
  • The failure of the employer, manager or responsible person to show the necessary documents to employ workers from other countries
  • The failure of the employer, manager or responsible person to show the records of the wages paid to the workers.
  • Poor quality or lack of health and safety equipment
  • Equipment designed or modified for use by children
  • Existence of evidence of violations of labor laws
  • There is evidence that workers are required to pay for tools, food or accommodation or that these costs are deducted from their wages.


Indicators of Domestic Slavery in the Meaning of Human Trafficking

  • The person who may be a victim lives with a family that is not their own
  • Not eating with the rest of the family
  • No home custom field
  • All cleaning, laundry, food etc. of the house. the fact that all his work is done by him at all hours of the day
  • Sleeping in a shared or inappropriate space
  • Reporting the victim as missing by their employer, even if the potential victim still lives in their employer’s home
  • Never/rarely leaves the house for social reasons
  • Never leave home without employer
  • Feeding only leftovers
  • Experiencing insults, harassment, threats or violence
  • Never/rarely appear in front of outsiders


Indicators of Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of Begging or Perpetrating a Crime

  • Children, the elderly or disabled immigrants who do not know the local language/know certain begging words and tend to beg in public places and on public transport
  • Children carrying and/or selling illegal drugs/drugs
  • Having physical impairments that appear as a result of amputation
  • Has children of the same nationality or ethnicity moving in large groups with only a few adults
  • Has unaccompanied minors “found” by an adult of the same nationality or ethnicity
  • Moving in groups when traveling on public transport: for example, groups of children walking together up and down the length of trains
  • Participation of organized criminal gangs
  • Belonging to gangs made up of members of the same nationality or ethnicity
  • Be part of large groups of children with the same adult guardian
  • Punished if they can’t collect or steal enough by begging
  • Living with gang members
  • Have/are traveling to destination country with gang members
  • Living as gang members with adults without parents
  • They move in large groups over significant distances every day
  • Existence of evidence that the group of victims of human trafficking has passed and worked through a number of countries within a given period of time


General Questions Asked by Border Officers to Identify the Victim

  • Does the victim have identity and travel documents; if not, who has control of the documents?
  • Have I received counseling or mentorship from someone to circumvent security about what to say to the victim, law enforcement, and immigration officials?
  • Is the victim hired for a purpose and forced to do another job?
  • A victim’s salary being confiscated/seized to pay for a smuggling charge? (Only paying the smuggling fee does not count as human trafficking.)
  • Is the victim forced to engage in sexual acts?
  • Does the victim have freedom of movement?
  • Is the victim or his family threatened with harm if the victim tries to escape?
  • Is the victim threatened with deportation or law enforcement?
  • Is the victim harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other vital necessities?
  • Is the victim able to freely communicate with friends or family?
  • Is the victim a child who has had commercial sex?
  • Is the victim allowed to socialize or attend religious services?


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