Trafficking in persons is a complex social problem, a human rights violation and a crime driven by demand of corporate and individual buyers for cheap labour, products and services.
While the private sector can both foster human trafficking and contribute to its eradication, most companies are unaware of the related duties, risks and the negative impact of trafficking practices. Businesses are responsible for the elimination of trafficking from product supply chains and addressing other forms of complicity in trafficking in persons, ensuring that none of the elements of their operations is contributing to human trafficking.
Trafficking-free supply chains can be brokered by consumers favouring ethical spending. However, despite a certain level of awareness by the general public about exploitative industry practices when commodity exporters in developing countries are concerned, European consumers are frequently unaware of the link between trafficking of workers in Europe and the daily purchases they make.
LSI believes that the contribution of grassroots organisations is critical in shaping and sustaining effective anti-trafficking policies of businesses and influencing consumer choices. To this end, LSI is spearheading the efforts for the establishment of effective cooperation between European grassroots anti-trafficking NGOs and the private sector, and contributing to general awareness-raising about the link between human trafficking and everyday consumables produced in Europe.
Thanks to the support of the Prevention of and Fight Against Crime Programme of the European Union, LSI and its partners could implement a two-year project “NGOs & Co: NGO-business engagement in addressing human trafficking”. This project aimed to strengthen the cooperation between grassroots organisations and the business sector in effectively preventing and addressing human trafficking.
The activities have been implemented on several levels, both Europe-wide and in select partner countries:
- Increasing knowledge and capacity of grass root anti-trafficking NGOs for establishing effective means of cooperation with the business sector, through development and piloting of a civil society toolkit on working with companies. As part of the project public-private partnerships in the anti-trafficking efforts in Europe, research corporate accountability policies and practices in relation to human trafficking, as well as the related international legal frameworks have been assessed, as well as civil society strategies and tools for private sector engagement.
- Raising awareness with the private sector in three partner countries in the EU – Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland. Developed materials and the lessons learnt have been made applicable for other partners of La Strada International in Europe.
- Raising awareness with the general public as to the role of potential buyers/users of services and goods provided by trafficked persons, through a Europe-wide consumer awareness campaign.