Bolstering Skills to Combat Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in Ethiopia 

11 July 2016 - A year after a landmark legislation against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling was passed in the Ethiopian Parliament, UNODC is determined in its efforts to spur legal practitioners to implement the new text. With this goal in mind, between the last week of June and the first week of July it conducted two rounds of workshops in Addis Ababa to shed light on the potential for implementation of the new law to fight traffickers and smugglers.

UNODC, which had an instrumental advisory role in drawing up the new law, trained close to 60 prosecutors, judges and police investigators in an array of tools to heighten the combat against this scourge.

Organized with Ethiopia's Attorney General's Office, the workshop cast a spotlight on techniques aimed at improving the quality of investigations and making prosecutions more effective - such as ways to analyze and record crime scenes, interview suspects and witnesses, and prepare cases and trials.

"The best thing of the training", according to Ms. Asahib Habtegbreal, a public prosecutor in Addis Ababa, was the fact it was "very practical and posed different scenarios and simulation exercises". It will therefore "help us remember how to proceed in complicated cases; for example, how to investigate a crime scene, how to recognize pieces of evidence and match them to make them admissible to court , getting this way a clear picture on how the trafficking case occurred."

She added: "As prosecutors, we cannot rely solely on the testimonies of witnesses as they might be distorted and stem from bribes paid by traffickers, and will eventually prevent us from solving the cases."

Mr. Duro Fukula, a first instance judge in the capital city, highlighted the "participatory methodology" of the training. He said that this would allow participants to improve their ability to try trafficking and smuggling cases at home.

Still, he pointed to the enduring limitations they face to try and convict top-end traffickers and smugglers who operate transnational organized crime groups across Ethiopia's borders and perpetuate those crimes. "When a person is smuggled in our country but ends up trafficked in a foreign country, we are often unable to track that case," he and several of his colleagues regretted.

While a number of challenges remain, the trainings were viewed in a positive light and as an important first step to start making a difference in the combat against the two crimes.

In the words of Mr. Ashenafi Berhie, a public prosecutor in Addis Ababa, it was an "opportunity to share information and discuss legal elements from the perspectives of judges, prosecutors and police, whether speaking the same language or disagreeing." It was also "useful as a first contact so we can keep working together to achieve a common goal." That is no other than bringing the criminals to justice and stopping innocent people from being exploited and abused.

  This project is supported by the European Union