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Labour exploitation and human trafficking

A current research topic of the Criminal Law section of the Faculty of Law (Amsterdam Law School) is research in the field of human trafficking including human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation. On this page we collect news items, information about media-performances of researchers, and various reports and proposals concerning this research area. Our contact information is provided at the foot of this page.

COMCRIM project

As of 1 September 2020, our COMCRIM research started. The main research question of this research project is what the optimal way is to combat crimes that undermine the rule of law such as human trafficking, money laundering and corruption in a smart and comprehensive manner, in a financial public-private partnership and through artificial intelligence.

Crimes that undermine the rule of law (undermining) create conflicts in contemporary society that urgently require cooperation so as to find better solutions. Paradoxically, whilst profitability of crimes like human trafficking, corruption and money laundering is increasing, their visibility is decreasing. For example, human traffickers nowadays earn around € 150 billion annually, by exploiting some 40.3 million victims in sectors like prostitution and agriculture, but victim detection and prosecution rates steadily decline worldwide. Hence, this research seeks to answer the central question: What is the optimal way to combat these crimes in a smart and comprehensive manner, in a public-private partnership and through artificial intelligence?

This research uses new (financial) data sources for crime detection and pattern analysis for network analysis and computational modelling, under two research pillars. Our first pillar comprises socio-legal research. This involves, firstly, the creation of the legal framework comprised of national and international criminal law as well as human rights law, including privacy and fair trial guarantees. Secondly, it develops and empirically tests queries for crime detection, following financial flows in banking records and discerning its networks. This answers questions like how to regulate public-private partnerships and how to use intelligence as legal evidence in a fair trial.

Since previous research resulted in a query on labour exploitation with a 70% success rate, this research builds on this evidence base. Our second pillar develops artificial intelligence to support the interactive creation of high-quality search patterns on crimes and proceeds. This helps defining each partner’s role in the constantly developing social and financial-technological networks as well as modelling better interventions and (displacement) effects.

Expected outcomes are increased crime detection, convictions, amounts of confiscated proceeds and victim reparations, and financial intelligence for improved bases for compensation for victims and prevention of these crimes.


Reports and research proposals


November 2019 | Big data human trafficking project wins AmSIA Award

The research team of Jill Coster van Voorhout of the UvA received the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award for their innovation of combining various research methods to trace criminal in bank data. With this innovation, tracking down crimes like human trafficking, money laundering and corruption becomes more effective and secure.

October 2019 | Big data human trafficking wins Computable Award 2019

Jill Coster van Voorhout's project to detect human trafficking activities in big bank data was awarded the Dutch Computable Award 2019. Jill developed the project together with ABN Amro bank and the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

April 2019 | Public presentations of UvA human trafficking research

Following the recent launch of a search engine using bank data to detect human trafficking, which UvA developed together with ABN Amro bank and the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, ACIL / ICL researcher Jill Coster van Voorhout will be presenting her research on human trafficking at a number of public events in April and May 2019.

September 2018 | Exposition: Open your eyes to human trafficking

Thirty pairs of eyes and thirty tales from victims of human trafficking – that, in a nutshell, sums up the exposition Open Your Eyes to Human Trafficking - now on view on the first floor of REC A’s entrance hall. Jill Coster van Voorhout has organised the exposition to mark the launch of the new Master’s track International and Transnational Criminal Law and the Amsterdam Law Practice.

December 2017 | New toolkit for migration-related crime

T-STAN: Toolkit on Smuggling and Trafficking, a project headed by Jill Coster van Voorhout (ACIL and section Criminal Law) and financed by NWO-WOTRO, has reached completion. Migration-related crime in Libya and en route to Europe was researched, and the toolkit it presents provides policy makers with guidelines that will enable them to react more effectively to the criminal aspects of the refugee crisis.


The research theme of human trafficking and labour exploitation is closely linked to education at the FdR. In 2018, 131 public law students conducted research into human trafficking. As part of Amsterdam Law Practice, this public-private partnership was presented to the students during experiential education. Some criminal law students also made specific recommendations, based on their research, to improve the current research.


Mr. dr. drs. J.E.B. (Jill) Coster van Voorhout PhD

Faculty of Law

Criminal Law