How IJM is using technology to end human trafficking

IJM and our partners are fighting modern slavery with advanced tools.

In a matter of seconds, 12-year-old Solenn (a pseudonym) was sexually abused in real-time, robbed of her dignity and innocence as paying customers around the world watched from the comfort of their homes. Online sexual abuse of children (OSEC) is a form of trafficking that has dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and its long periods of quarantine.

Tragically, the youngest child IJM has rescued from OSEC was just two months old and the average age is 11 years. This crime is turning childhood into a daily nightmare for boys and girls like Solenn and has enduring repercussions, even after rescue.

For 25 years, International Justice Mission (IJM) has been on the front lines, strengthening justice systems and protecting people in poverty from violence. Through persistence and valued partnerships, we have helped over 76,000 children, women and men escape slavery, exploitation and abuse—and held their abusers accountable for their crimes.

Below are three ways IJM’s advanced technology has played a vital role in ending OSEC, and what you can do to help:

  1. Technology helps IJM monitor cyber space to protect the innocent. There are an estimated 750,000 predators online at any given moment. The Global Fusion Center, an analytics hub, based outside of IJM’s global office, helps IJM monitor red flags, track a predator’s virtual footprint and prevent abuse before it occurs. 

    The Center uses open-source information, geospatial mapping, satellite-based technology and advanced analytical techniques to catch criminals. Becoming aware of trends and patterns is a critical first step in tracking an individual’s digital footprint.

  2. Technology helps IJM locate victims and perpetrators to rescue the innocent. On 12 April 2019, Philippine authorities arrested a Filipino man who was once EUROPOL’s most-wanted criminal. His crime was producing and distributing images and videos of children being sexually abused. IJM’s Global Fusion Center played a huge role in his capture, helping local authorities identify him through data and pinpointing his exact location.

    IJM has been working with local governments for over 25 years, helping to convict over 4,600 criminals. Through the Center, we will be expanding our capabilities through innovative technology such as maritime analytics to identify, monitor and track “dark vessels” associated with forced labour slavery.

  3. Technology helps IJM equip, train and mentor law enforcement partners to pre-emptively stop traffickers. IJM field offices and international law enforcement partners will receive cutting-edge experience to proactively identify suspects, locate victims, determine areas of interest and collect non-testimonial evidence to support prosecution efforts.

    IJM’s frontline experience has demonstrated that perpetrators of human trafficking will only persist if the crime remains relatively risk-free. When government systems respond, as they should, to increase accountability and enforce sanctions against criminals, word spreads and opportunistic offenders stop exploiting others. As a result, trust builds between communities and their local justice systems, reinforcing perpetrator accountability, survivor-centred protection, and the prevention of future crimes.

IJM’s vision is to rescue millions, protect half a billion and make justice unstoppable for people who are poor. We envision a world where people are safe in their communities; where rescues are no longer necessary because people are never exploited in the first place. Will you help us create this world? Get involved today.

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