The Covid-19 lockdown has led to greater social isolation and made it more difficult for people in vulnerable situations to access social resources. The situation is worse for victims of human trafficking, as they are forced into additional isolation by their abusers, who impose further restrictions on their movements and access to information and resources.
To extend and speed up the detection of potential human trafficking victims and offer them support, the Municipal Unit against Human Trafficking (UTEH) has published two documents featuring tools and information:
- Detection guidelines aimed at professional staff (in Catalan and Spanish)
- Recommendations aimed at potential victims, explaining how to self-identify situations as victims of this crime (in English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Spanish, French, Romanian, Urdu and Chinese)
The Municipal Unit against Human Trafficking offers guidance for professional staff, to help them with detecting and responding to these situations and assisting any potential trafficking victim detected in Barcelona.
It deals with every possible type of victim, regardless of their legal status, or if they are still linked to the exploitation network (while trying to leaving it) or continue to work in prostitution, begging or other forms of exploitation. If the victim is, or is suspected to be, a minor, action can be taken under current legislation and in coordination with the competent institutions (Directorate-General of Childhood Care, the Prosecutor’s Office for Minors and Foreign Nationals and the Police Forces).
Assistance from the UTEH is comprehensive and personalised, as it carries out social, legal and psychological monitoring while providing legal support and representation. It also provides safe accommodation.
What is human trafficking?
It is the illegal trading in human beings with the aim of make them slaves, appropriating their dignity, freedom and work. It is a major violation of human rights and a crime (Article 177 bis of the Spanish Penal Code).
According to the United Nations Protocol from 2000, human trafficking is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, the use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.
UTEH contact details
677 445 190 (phone calls and WhatsApp)
Helpline times during the Covid-19 crisis: Mondays to Thursdays, 9 am to 6 pm, and Fridays, 9 am to 2 pm