Human Trafficking Case Data Standards, Toolkit and Guidance (HTCDS)


Objective of the programme

The International Organization for Migration’s Protection Division is providing support to front-line counter-trafficking organizations to strengthen their Victim Case Management Systems (VCMS) and data management capacity. This work is undertaken with the high-level objective of improving the production of standardized, quality data on human trafficking to provide evidence for policy and programme design. This support includes the provision of a digital information management toolkit and data standards and tailored capacity-building resources.


Toolkits and guidance

IOM’s work on VCMS has included the development, implementation and refining of the Human Trafficking Case Data Standards (HTCDS). The HTCDS are a core component of the work and comprise case standards that can be used by front-line organizations and technologists configuring case management systems to help them consistently define human trafficking cases and manage data that they are collecting on human trafficking. Version 2.0 of the HTCDS includes fields to screen for risk factors or vulnerabilities to human trafficking and referral details for survivors’ cases. This allows front-line counter-trafficking organizations to provide onward referral, as well as to keep track of cases.

Technical Assistance and Capacity development

IOM has developed a training package focused on survivor case data management, including how to improve case data management and how to align case management systems to the HTCDS. Trainings are ongoing but IOM has completed trainings with roughly 20 front-line organizations from several countries, providing concrete tools on data management to support the day-to-day of front-line workers.

The training package is comprised of three modules, each with two sessions and is for online and in-person delivery. The training was designed through a partnership with Freedom Collaborative and RecollectiV, adding to the sustainability of the training, given that the training modules are available to these organizations for future use with their partners/members.

Relevant contributions to the evidence base on human trafficking resulted from the project’s interventions. This includes a research report produced by Blue Dragon, an NGO based in Viet Nam, that compiled a comprehensive profile of human trafficking survivors in a report entitled: What makes people vulnerable to human trafficking?. This report was developed on the basis of data sets from Blue Dragon’s experiences with assisting human trafficking survivors and builds on the support provided by IOM as part of the project.


IOM also built a self-paced e-learning course that will be free to access for front-line individuals and organizations working on counter-trafficking around the world. The course modules introduce the different aspects of case data management and provide information on the HTCDS repository and collaborative space, as well as other resources available. The e-learning course is an additional output not originally planned for and is part of efforts to maximize the results and sustainability, as well as to purposefully utilize available training funds due to cost savings given the online, rather than in-person, training modality.

Data protection for evidence-based policy and programming

The HTCDS, Guidance and Toolkit prioritize the protection and rights of survivors, including through data protection and data security measures. Together with Microsoft Research, IOM developed open-access, open-source technologies to support front-line counter-trafficking organizations in data protection and security measures. The resulting codes are publicly available on GitHub, including improvements following the release of the Global Synthetic Dataset in September 2021 and the Global Victim-Perpetrator Synthetic Dataset in December 2022 on IOM's CTDC.

Community of Practice

A significant achievement of IOM’s work has been the creation of a community of practice around data and information management in the field of human trafficking survivor protection. The value of the community of practice is evidenced from the participation of front-line agencies in the governance and maintenance of the HTCDS and Toolkit.

Leaving no one behind

Timely, accurate, disaggregated data and evidence are fundamental requirements to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda’s transformative promise of leaving no one behind. Data and evidence delivered timely and appropriately disaggregated are particularly important for vulnerable people to ensure their safety and protection. IOM’s VCMS works to operationalize this promise by means of standardizing data and evidence in the field of counter-trafficking, actively supporting the realization of several SDGs, including most prominently SDG 8.7. ‘End Modern Slavery, Trafficking and Child Labour’.

Human Trafficking Case Data Standards, Toolkit and Guidance (HTCDS)

A core challenge in addressing human trafficking is how to mobilize evidence and data to inform and reinforce targeted interventions. Most information that does exist originates from identified cases of trafficking, particularly testimony from victims. However, case data are often disconnected, inaccessible and limited in scope, leading to fragmented knowledge. Consequently, valuable data that could contribute to building the evidence-base for more effective policies and programs to combat human trafficking is rarely drawn upon. IOM’s Human Trafficking Case Data Standards, Toolkit and Guidance (HTCDS) is a global format and common approach to collecting and recording case data related to human trafficking. The standard will enable organizations around the world to easily build information management systems to collect and potentially share information related to human trafficking cases in a consistent way. The HTCDS is intended to be a reference for organizations handling cases related to human trafficking, technology service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs).

This initiative was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and through the generous support of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS). The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State or GFEMS.

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