Think tank and Warnath Group sister organization, The NEXUS Institute, has released the first in-depth report studying the phenomenon of ‘trafficking at sea,’ in which seafarers are trafficked on ocean-going vessels for months or years at a time, and forced to work incredibly long hours for little or no pay. The report, published in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration, was authored by NEXUS Institute Senior Researcher Rebecca Surtees, and financed by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking (J/TIP).

Trafficked at Sea—The Exploitation of Ukrainian Seafarers and Fishers explores the experiences of dozens of seafarers subjected to trafficking, in places as diverse as Turkey, Russia, and South Korea. The report contains both in-depth analysis of the circumstances and systems that enabled the trafficking to take place, as well as a wide array of specific examples and stories drawn from in-person interviews conducted with the victims of trafficking themselves.

The phenomenon of trafficking at sea remains barely understood and the subject of very little study, making this report a major milestone in bringing this heinous crime to light. The report includes an array of recommended next steps for various involved parties—including governments, prosecutors, international organizations, and anti-trafficking organizations—to take, all of which will help further our understanding and ability to combat trafficking at sea. The report also makes clear that there remains a wide range of circumstances and individuals who are subjected to labor trafficking that are not encompassed by the report, and these are equally deserving of further investigation and study.

This report is intended to spur further dialogue and action on the subject of seafarers trafficked at sea, which demands powerful and concerted initiatives taken between governments, NGOs, companies and the public, to effectively eradicate it. The Warnath Group and The NEXUS Institute invite further discussion and open dialogue on the topic.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from The NEXUS Institute’s website, here.

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