Border Control

In its project 'Strengthening Law Enforcement Capacity (Border Control Operations) and Criminal Justice Response to Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons', UNODC Southern Africa has adopted an approach that aims to stem illegal migration by preventing and combating smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons from Africa to Europe.

Funded by the European Union, the project aims to support the implementation of South Africa's National Integrated Border Management Strategy for the period 2008-2010 by providing technical assistance that promotes cooperation, coordination, mutual support, information sharing and joint operations between applicable agencies.

With a land border shared with six countries that is 4,862 km long, 10 international airports providing excellent regional and international connections and eight international seaports, South Africa is an important transit route and embarkation point for organized criminal networks involved in trafficking persons and smuggling migrants.

The Regional Perspective

As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), South Africa has signed the Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons, which enables persons to move freely within the 14 SADC Member States. This development presents new challenges to border management considering that, as the economic powerhouse of the region, South Africa attracts economic migrants as well as illegal migration.

Through a partnership between UNODC Southern Africa, the South African Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee (BCOCC), the Netherlands and the European Police Office (Europol), the project aims to benefit vulnerable individuals, especially women and children, and achieve the following results:

  • Enhanced capacity of border control agencies to implement the National Integrated Border Management Strategy for the period 2008-2010
  • Improved skills to detect fraudulent and fraudulently obtained travel documents and better exchange of information between the inter-agency teams at ports of entry, as well as consular offices abroad
  • Improved knowledge on smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons
  • Improved international cooperation at the bilateral level or with Europol and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)
  • Increased awareness about smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons

In order to share and gain new knowledge and experiences about various aspects of integrated border control operations and management, the project has carried out a study tour to the Netherlands with four members of the BCOCC representing the South African Department of Home Affairs; the Department of Police; the Department for State Security; and the South African Revenue Service. Examples on how to set up document fraud detection units as well as design and execution of international criminal justice and law enforcement cooperation operations were shared.

An assessment on the training and equipment needs to set up document fraud detection units at the main international airports has been carried out and procurement of equipment and specialized training is under way.