Students Develop App to Trap Human Traffickers with Support from UNODC, Facebook

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Bennett Oghifo

Sixty-four young coders drawn from different universities across Nigeria have developed an App to trap human traffickers, with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Facebook.

Representatives of Facebook; Representatives of UNODC were at Andela office (Andela Epic Tower, 235 Ikorodu Road, Ilupeju, Lagos, venue of the event, which theme was: ‘Sustainable Development Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’.

With support from 20 experienced mentors, the youngsters with ages ranging from 19 to 22 commenced the coding marathon at exactly 10:15 a.m. The university undergraduates had something in common – competing to showcase how youth can contribute through the use of technology to the implementation of Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to a statement by the UNODC Outreach and Communications Officer, Sylvester Tunde Atere, this activity is a part of UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, the objective of which is to educate youth on crime, justice and rule of law issues. The Hackathon4Justice event showcases how young people can play an active and creative role in promoting the rule of law, while learning about the issues that affect them. The E4J initiative is part of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration of UNODC.

Following the successful 2019 event in Lagos, the 64 Nigerian students were brought together by Facebook, Andela and UNODC with the aim to spark their creativity whilst pushing their coding capabilities to find technological solutions to tackle crime, uphold justice and promote the rule of law.

After two days of compelling creativity, four students of the team Predex were declared the winners. The winning project was an application that used artificial intelligence to send warning signals to users of chat applications if the conversation had indications that they might be recruited for human trafficking as well as other forms of sexual abuse. The team trained their model based on existing datasets of conversations between victims and recruiters for human trafficking or perpetrators of sexual abuse against children. As a prize, UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative will bring the team to the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in Kyoto, Japan, from 20 to 27 April 2020, where they will have a chance to present their application.

This year’s runner up was an application by the team e-Recyclers. Their project focused on developing a network aimed to inform consumers on how to legally recycle e-waste and hereby to keep it away from the domain of organized criminal groups. The application would help users to determine how and where to recycle e-waste, as well as provide incentives for the lawful recycling of e-waste, with the sponsorship of technology companies.