Representatives of legal organizations of the EU and Ukraine are seriously concerned about the dynamics of the growth of crimes in the field of human trafficking and labor exploitation. The mass emigration of Ukrainians abroad, active internal population migrations and the acute need for material assistance, housing, and employment have prompted international and domestic criminals to create various fraudulent schemes. How not to become a victim during the search for asylum, employment in other countries and in Ukraine? Get comprehensive advice from the Flagma portal!
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In the conditions of martial law and disorderly population migration in Ukraine and beyond, cases of illegal trafficking for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation of people, especially women and children, have become more frequent. At the same time, men who remained in the country and lost their jobs can also become victims of criminals. Based on the Protocol "On Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking", the crime has the following characteristics:
- transportation, transfer to third parties and sale;
- use in the field of sexual services, prostitution, porn industry;
- application in military conflicts;
- slavery and all similar situations;
- any forced labor;
- involvement in debt bondage;
- adoption or adoption; taking into custody for commercial purposes;
- forced donation, transplantation;
- involvement in the commission of crimes;
- coercion using violence, blackmail, threats.
Job search in Ukraine and abroad: the most important thing
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Goals of criminals
Taking advantage of the unbalanced psychological state of Ukrainian refugees and IDPs, as well as a certain temporary disorder in the system of the domestic and international law and order system, criminals try to:
- get hold of personal data with the aim of further using them in fraud;
- take possession of personal funds or property;
- use the labor of hired workers for free or with partial payment;
- to find "living resources" for the organization of human trafficking;
- blackmail and threats to involve in the commission of offenses.
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Signs of labor exploitation
Based on the rights established by the labor legislation of a certain country, labor exploitation acquires the following signs:
- the amount of wages per hour or per month is lower than the minimum;
- non-disbursement of salary or disbursement of only part of it;
- the number of working hours and days is more than the maximum set by law;
- the employee must pay the employer for providing work;
- the employer seizes the worker's documents and keeps him in a certain place;
- the worker is forced to perform labor functions not stipulated by the contract;
- the worker is forced to perform actions that violate the law;
- the worker works and lives in the same place.
When applying for a job, do not under any circumstances give your passport to the employer, even if you trust him. Demand the conclusion of an official contract. Provide information about your location (address, employer details) to people who can take care of you if necessary.
Signs of suspicious vacancies
Pay attention! Criminals actively take advantage of Ukrainians' weak knowledge of the language of the country where they stopped. To make important decisions, fill out documents, use the help of translators and consultants in official institutions, involve reliable volunteers in communication. Resolutely refuse any offer if you are not clear about everything. Resolutely refuse if:
- The author of the vacancy offers extremely attractive conditions: high salary, convenient schedule, easy duties, fast career growth, etc. At the same time, having a diploma or experience is optional ("We will teach you everything!"). The job functions listed in such advertisements are often vague — that is, they have a minimum of specifics.
- A suspicious employer insists on communicating only through WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Telegram and the like. We recommend that you give preference to communication by phone, when you meet in person; or via e-mail (emails must come from the company's official domain).
It also happens that the answer to your resume comes very quickly. A short interview and you are employed. All this is a reason to be wary and take your time to provide copies of documents, carefully verify the integrity of the author of the vacancy.
How to check the employer
- Conduct the simplest analysis of the labor market: how much does such a job cost on average? Actual employers offer average market labor cost ± 20%. Significant deviations are a sign of fraud.
- Google the name of the company offering the job: does it actually exist? Visit her website, social networks. Pay attention to the content and openness of resources — reliable companies always provide maximum information about themselves. Actively use the Google Translate.
- Which site looks suspicious? The one that was created only "yesterday". There is a minimum of information, contact details are unavailable or give the impression of a fake (see point 6). When you open the main page, you see a colorful design reminiscent of an online casino. Check the registration data of the site — for this, enter the link to the main page in the search term of the service. Unlike fraudulent sites, official web resources are as open to information as possible. Most often, a branded design is used, or the site is designed in an official style.
- If possible, check the physical address of the office by going there in person or using google maps. Fraudulent details can lead to wasteland or it turns out that such buildings do not exist. Or a completely different institution or even a private residence is located at this address.
- Look for reviews about a potential employer from employees and customers. The overall picture will give you an idea of decency and stability; attitude to people; working methods and general message of the company.
- Pay attention to the email address of the employer. It is suspicious when it is a set of arbitrary characters, a bot-nickname and other strange formations formed during the automatic registration of a large number of addresses. There is also a more complex forgery warrant — an analogue of a valid address with some minor differences. Yes, a small letter is used instead of a capital letter (Nestlu.com — nestle.com), another transcription is used (Nestle — Nestl — Nіstle). The name of the company and a popular mail service are used: nеstlе@yahoo.com or nеstlе@gmail.com. To make sure whether it is an official address or a fake, go to the employer's website and compare the contacts.
- Be especially careful if you are asked to provide your identification number, passport details, bank accounts, credit history, driver's license number, social security information. Real employers need personal information only when concluding an employment contract. There is no need to provide this data at the application stage.
- Don't give your passport to anyone: show your documents without letting them go, use the Action application.
- Don't pay for anything: some criminals ask for an advance payment for supposedly previous services: creating a bank card, concluding a contract, processing your personal data, etc. You should pay, not you!
- Do not answer suspicious calls, emails and messages.
- If you received a response to a resume posted on an online resource, pay attention to whether the proposed job matches your qualifications: most often, vague duties lead to labor exploitation.
- When concluding an employment contract (this is precisely the stage when you have to provide personal data), insist on a personal meeting or, at least, an interview via video link.
- Never agree to make any financial transactions on behalf of an employer or accept checks sent to you to make purchases on behalf of someone else.
- Do not accept a job that involves creating multiple accounts on the same resource or other violations of the rules.
- Don't take an advance for work that hasn't been done yet, and even more so don't sign any financial commitments.
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Rights of employees
To avoid any exploitation, you need to know the labor laws and rights of the country where you plan to get a job. Here are some examples of the rights of employees:
- conclusion of a written contract, which clearly spells out all the rights and obligations of the parties (load, amount and order of salary and other payments; labor function, term of the contract and all other important for productive interaction and legal protection of the agreement );
- receiving a minimum wage or, under the terms of the contract, an increased wage for a working day or month;
- the set amount of mandatory workload: the number of working hours and days per week, including overtime; conclusion of a written employment contract, which must clearly state the working conditions and obligations of the parties, in particular the amount and procedure for calculation of salary and other payments;
- the minimum age from which employment is allowed;
- a certain number of vacation days per year.
Problems of Ukrainian refugees in the EU and their prevention
Escaping from war, refugees become psychologically and economically vulnerable. It is in this state that they are the easiest to manipulate. Criminals use simple but effective schemes: they offer a job that does not exist; persuade them to use private transport or free housing, kidnap single people, etc.
Half of all displaced persons are children, many of them went abroad without documents, and in some cases, without parents. The risk that a child will fall into the hands of slave traders is very high.
Refugee women can fall into sexual or labor exploitation, become a victim of violence. Volunteers talk about cases when the duties specified in the vacancy had a completely different interpretation in reality. It also often happens that a woman is offered free housing, which then needs to be "worked out in barter." Human rights defenders emphasize that exchanging services is illegal. If there are duties, there should be a salary.
Women who are legally employed where they live are also vulnerable. They become completely dependent on the employer, who can make any demands and claims. Thus, an employee living and working on a farm or in another remote place can be quite successfully manipulated by the owner, noting that "you don't work well enough, and at the same time you live with me." Thus, the number of responsibilities gradually increases, and the salary decreases or even disappears altogether.
You have just crossed the border...
The best thing a woman can do is to organize her departure in such a way that she always uses the help or services of only proven carriers and volunteers. Currently, it is quite possible to do this: there are many people in social networks who share their experience and readily help with information and contacts.
At the same time, volunteers who meet refugees on the other side of the border note cases when even they are offered money for handing over children and women "under care". Caution and common sense are the most important principles to use:
- Find out in advance the contacts of the police in the country you will be dealing with.
- Try to stay in groups: women and girls traveling alone are especially vulnerable.
- Always clarify in detail the conditions under which assistance will be provided to you.
- If in the border zone you are offered to use transport to a point where you can spend the night, that is normal. There are many law enforcement officers here and the risks are minimal.
- Another thing is when you are asked to come somewhere to get to the car — to a gas station, or to any other remote, deserted place. Trusting strangers in such a case is a bad idea.
- Do not agree to get into a random car, spend the night in an unfamiliar place. Also, volunteers advise to consume only the food and drinks that are offered in volunteer tents or reliable humanitarian centers.
- Don't hesitate to ask the volunteers for ID. See if there is a tent of this organization nearby — mostly only vetted volunteers are allowed in the border zone.
- Do not let the documents out of your hands. Just in case, take a picture of them. Write down all the details of your child (including full name, date of birth and address of residence, blood type, presence of allergies and other health-related features, contacts of parents and other trusted persons) and put this piece of paper in the pocket of your son or daughter, regardless of their age.
- Keep your phone with you. Take photos of volunteers, license plates of the cars you use and pass them on to your relatives. Write down the contact information, address, and full name of those people who offer you a room or accommodation. Ask to show your ID.
- Keep in touch with relatives and friends. Notify them of your movements.
It is also known that criminal organizations pass information on refugees to each other: so-called recruiters who speak Ukrainian well and know how to inspire trust appear in places where a group of Ukrainians have settled. Criminals seem to offer Ukrainian women attractive and quite decent jobs in neighboring countries, and then take those willing to an unknown destination. Such a scheme exists in Belgium, Holland and Hungary.
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- Do not give your documents and children's documents to anyone except representatives of official institutions of Ukraine or other countries.
- Show your passport, holding it in your hands, or use the "Action" application.
- Keep the documents with you.
- Make several copies of documents and store them in different places.
- Keep electronic copies of documents on several media: phone, tablet, cloud drive, in email drafts, etc.
- Do everything to plan your route in advance. Find contacts of verified volunteers. Prepare backup options in case something goes wrong.
- Try to build logistics so that there are no pauses in your movement to the final destination when you are left without the care of volunteers.
- Use the services of proven carriers and humanitarian centers.
- Try to discuss travel conditions in advance.
- Do not get into an unfamiliar car, especially if you are traveling alone.
- Provide a photo of the car, driver and other passengers' license plates to loved ones.
- Install translator applications on your phone.
- Do not transfer your own documents (including children's documents), funds and means of communication to other people.
- Do not trust strangers — both men and women.
- Agree with loved ones on a code word, a phrase that will mean a request for help.
- Constantly stay in touch: tell trusted people what offers you have received; provide addresses of residence; send details of volunteers who have been contacted.
Safety of children
- Take care of the safety of the child's documents: provide them only to official representatives of Ukraine or other states. Make electronic and paper copies and store them in different places, on different media. Write all information about the child (name, date of birth, address of registration and residence, blood group, health characteristics, contact information of parents and persons who will be able to take care of the child. It is preferable to duplicate all information in English) and put your son or daughter in your pocket , regardless of how old they are.
- If you notice a lone child at the border or in another chaotic gathering of Ukrainian refugees, be sure to notify the nearest police officer or a reliable volunteer. Do not leave the little person without help. The Organization of Missing Children of Europe asks you to report missing persons immediately to the hotline at 116000.
- If you notice that someone is taking pictures of you or your child, immediately seek help from a police officer or a trusted volunteer. Don't be alone. All the more, do not accept suspicious offers. Remember that the same fraudsters can pursue you in other cities and countries.
- Monitor who your children communicate with on social networks. Do not post personal information, solicitations for sponsorships, or other risky posts.
- Do not reply to messages from strangers. Create a trusting relationship so that the child can turn to you with any question or advice.
- Do not leave children unattended; do not ask strangers to look after your child.
- Accompany the child to classes at school, especially if he has a weak command of the language.
- Agree on a code word or phrase that will mean a request for help.
- There is a special situation with places where groups of children are invited to rest. Even long before the war, international kidnappers worked out schemes of abduction from summer camps, mainly for use in the porn industry and for shooting films about violence.
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Where to turn for help?
If there is a suspicion that you may become a victim of criminals, or you are persistently pursued, or you are simply afraid, contact the police; border guards; workers of humanitarian missions; volunteers (making sure they have official identification). Or call the pan-European hotline number 112.
When looking for shelter abroad, seeking employment, trust your own instincts: if the situation seems suspicious to you, do not put your own fear to sleep and do not compromise with your sense of personal safety. Criminals are constantly improving their criminal schemes, and only you can take the best care of yourself and your child.