INTERPOL may be better known for catching the likes of terrorists and cybercriminals, but a key focus of its work is on protecting vulnerable communities.
In its 2019 annual report, INTERPOL outlines recent achievements in protecting these vulnerable groups.
Who does INTERPOL consider vulnerable?
According to INTERPOL, some of the most vulnerable groups in the world are those at risk of human trafficking, people smuggling, sexual abuse and forced labour. Children are particularly vulnerable.
The reason crimes like human trafficking are so prevalent is that they are extremely profitable, and can support other criminal activity through facilitating money laundering.
Key achievements in 2019
INTERPOL led several operations and initiatives throughout 2019 which led to the rescue and protection of victims, and arrest of wrongdoers.
Operation leads to rescue of almost 220 victims
In April 2019, Operation Epervier II led to the rescue of almost 220 victims of human trafficking by police in Benin and Nigeria. Among the rescued were children as young as 11, destined for forced labour and prostitution.
Global conference sets new records
The 7th Global Conference on Human Trafficking and People Smuggling was held in Argentina in September. It was the biggest edition ever, attracting a record 750 participants from 97 countries.
The conference focused on using technology and cross-sector cooperation to take down criminal groups and prevent recruitment and exploitation of victims. Attendees included law enforcement, the public and private sectors, non-governmental and international organisations.
International cooperation disrupts people smuggling routes
INTERPOL led Operation Turquesa in October 2019, disrupting the crime groups behind people smuggling routes to the USA and Canada. The operation resulted in:
- 53 arrests for people smuggling.
- 11 arrests for human trafficking.
- 7 arrests on other charges.
- Identification of 775 migrants from 30 different countries.
- Rescue of 27 victims of human trafficking.
Authorities in 20 countries across three continents carried out nearly one million checks at air, land and sea borders. This involved:
- 307,000 checks against INTERPOL’s databases.
- 1,300 international flights monitored.
- 400 checkpoints monitored.
50 children rescued from abuse
Operation Blackwrist targeted child abuse. This international operation involved monitoring the darkweb and cooperating with global police to seize devices, images and videos. This led to the rescue of 50 children and the arrest of nine child sex offenders in Thailand, Australia and the United States.
This operation is a stellar example of effective international cooperation, with assistance provided by:
- United States: Identified the website IP address of a subscription-based child abuse material website with nearly 63,000 users worldwide. Cross-checked e-mail addresses.
- Bulgaria: Took down the website’s servers.
- New Zealand: Deconflicted intelligence and compiled information packages.
- Thailand: Arrested and jailed the main site administrator.
- Australia: Identified and arrested the second site administrator.
Targeting crimes against women
It is estimated that 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and three out of four of them are sexually exploited.
INTERPOL made a public appeal to track eight fugitives wanted for crimes against women, including murder.
INTERPOL’s work is increasingly focused on protecting vulnerable communities and human rights. In 2019, the organisation achieved significant results in protecting and rescuing children, women and other vulnerable groups through international operations targeting human trafficking, people smuggling and child abuse.