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Getting to Good Human Trafficking Data: Handa Center Publishes Guidelines and Promising Practices White Paper

Guidelines cover
May 29 2018

Posted In:

Human Trafficking, Research & Publications

Building on previous research related to human trafficking prevalence in Southeast Asia, Handa Center Program Manager Jessie Brunner authored two new publications this Spring: Getting to Good Human Trafficking Data: Everyday Guidelines for Frontline Practitioners in Southeast Asia and Getting to Good Human Trafficking Data: Assessing the Landscape in Southeast Asia and Promising Practices from ASEAN Governments and Civil Society(forthcoming). 

Both the practical guidelines and prescriptive white paper examine the current norms and practices on data collection related to human trafficking. The former document offers baseline standards and recommendations based on current understanding around good, responsible data practices tailored to the local context with a view to supporting better understanding regionally. The latter highlights specific challenges and promising practices in the ASEAN region, and offers tangible recommendations for the collection of not only more, but better data to combat human trafficking. 

The research was conducted in partnership with the Human Rights Resource Centre and made possible with the generous support of the British Embassy Jakarta, with additional funding from the East-West Center for the guidelines. 

Brunner’s research was informed by nearly 100 in-person interviews with anti-trafficking practitioners from across governments and civil society organizations in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand between July 2017 and February 2018. Additional interviews were conducted via phone and in person with international experts both on human trafficking and data management.

When asked why she pursued this research, Brunner replied, “There is tremendous energy and enthusiasm around the use of new technologies and innovations in big data analytics within some circles of the anti-trafficking movement. This work is exciting and important. But equally imperative is investment in building capacity around the fundamentals of digital data ethics, security, management, and analysis at the frontlines, where the bulk of the work to combat human trafficking takes place. This will help ensure the data we collect are of good quality and more comparable across geographies and sectors; my current research aims to support that effort.”

The results of Brunner’s research were shared with ASEAN government officials at a launch event in Jakarta, Indonesia in March. The launch event included representatives from the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC), the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Secretariat, the diplomatic community, government ministries, and civil society organizations involved in anti-human trafficking efforts in the region. Delivering the keynote address, Director Leocadio Trovela, SOMTC Philippines representative, expressed gratitude for the conduct of the study, which he believed “would lead in a robust policy discourse on key issues and challenges facing the ASEAN Community, particularly in the area of trafficking.”  

Jessie Brunner is currently leading the Handa Center’s efforts to carry this work forward by supporting the operationalization of the data guidelines and supporting adoption of policy recommendations by governments, civil society, ASEAN, and the donor community. 

Read more about the Handa Center’s trafficking program here. 

Watch a video of the panel Brunner recently convened, “Towards an Evidence-Based Approach to Combating Human Trafficking: Lessons from the Movement” with expert practitioners discussing the types of data currently available to the anti-trafficking movement, how they are being used, and how we might craft more data-driven policies and approaches.