Charity helps tackle human trafficking as part of UK Space Agency project

Hope for Justice is excited to be working alongside governments and academics as part of a pioneering UK Space Agency project to improve the response to human trafficking.

The project, known as Anti-trafficking using Satellite Technology for Uganda’s Sustainability (ASTUS ), led by the University of Nottingham, will utilise Earth Observation technology from satellites to support anti-trafficking efforts in Uganda. This is a source and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Hope for Justice will engage with key stakeholders including senior government ministers in the UK and Uganda and deliver workshops, sharing knowledge about trafficking routes so that a satellite tracking system can be developed.

This is one of 10 space projects that the UK Space Agency announced as part of a £3.4million investment from its International Partnership Programme to tackle development problems worldwide.

Neil Wain, Hope for Justice’s International Programme Director, said: “We are thrilled that Hope for Justice is part of the ASTUS project, funded by the UK Space Agency to tackle human trafficking in Uganda.

“The project aims to use space technology to track the prevalence of this crime, to map vulnerability hotspots and to estimate the numbers of men, women and children being trafficked.

“ASTUS will enhance the substantial gains already made by the Ugandan government in its commitment to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Developmnent Goal of ending slavery by 2030.”

Hope for Justice teams in both the UK and on the ground in Uganda will be working closely with colleagues from The Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, the University of Dundee, Airbus and IPE Triple Line to implement the eight-month project.

Professor of Earth Observation at University of Nottingham, Doreen Boyd, said: “Trafficking in persons (TIP) is a global issue that affects millions of people and thus requires ingenious approaches to address.

“The Rights Lab will be working with Hope for Justice, Makerere University, University of Dundee, Airbus and IPE Triple Line to develop a stakeholder-informed Modern Anti-trafficking Support System (MASS) underpinned with Earth Observation data.”

Professor Boyd continued: “We are very fortunate to be working with our partners in Uganda, a country that is keen go above and beyond in its commitment to tackling TIP. What we achieve in Uganda should have global replicability.”

A press release issued by the UK Space Agency states that this MASS will support anti-trafficking decision-making and response, and that the project’s activities are underpinned by “stakeholder buy-in and sustainability.”

Funding for the project comes from the International Partnership Programme (IPP), which aims to use the UK space sector’s expertise to deliver sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies as well as building effective partnerships that can lead to growth opportunities for the UK space sector.

Athene Gadsby, International Partnership Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “The International Partnership Programme is committed to connecting UK satellite expertise with partners in developing countries to generate sustainable solutions for operational work or decision making.

“ASTUS is a superb example of this partnership, tackling such an important problem and delivering the decision-making power to those who can directly put it to use it in Uganda.”

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “From flooding to climate change, around the world people continue to be affected by crises that are having a profound impact on their countries’ economies and their lives.

“These 10 new projects have the potential to provide solutions to the world’s biggest development problems by using the latest and most high-tech space technologies such as satellites, and help improve millions of people’s lives in developing countries.”

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