Why is it important to promote effective mutual legal assistance in the fight against human trafficking and migrant smuggling?

 

GLO.ACT Kyrgyz MLA DialogueBishkek, Kyrgyz Republic - 1 August 2018 - The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants ( GLO.ACT) organized, from 9-10 July 2018, an international workshop on promoting effective mutual legal assistance of criminal cases related to trafficking in persons (TIP) and the smuggling of migrants (SOM) amongst countries of origin, transit and destination.

The Kyrgyz Republic is a party to a number of legal assistance and extradition agreements, including the Agreement on Cooperation of the Member Countries of the Commonwealth of the Independent States on Combating Trafficking in Persons, Human Organs and Tissues. The Office of General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic is the central authority for international cooperation on criminal justice matters, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the assisted returns of Kyrgyz victims to the country.

In terms of the country's policies, international cooperation on TIP and SOM are based on a range of bilateral, regional and universal agreements, treaties and conventions. Government stakeholders consider the country to be effectively cooperating with Russia and Kazakhstan - the main destinations of trafficking for labour exploitation. There is not, however, effective cooperation on TIP for sexual exploitation with main destination countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey, despite having signed bilateral agreements on cooperation. Therefore, information exchange with criminal justice institutions from other countries on investigative, prosecutorial and judicial matters related to TIP and SOM remains a major challenge, and only a few criminal cases involving these destination countries have led to convictions.

GLO.ACT Kyrgyz MLA DialogueIn is in this context that GLO.ACT facilitated a dialogue to strengthen international cooperation between Kyrgyz authorities and authorities from origin, transit and destination countries, such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the Russian Federation and Turkey. The two-day workshop gathered over 35 criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors with the purpose to discuss main challenges and develop relevant recommendations to improve international in TIP and SOM cases. Workshop participants shared information on peculiarities of national legal frameworks regulating international cooperation and mutual legal assistance, as well as TIP and SOM practices. These criminal justice practitioners also discussed the main challenges faced while proceeding with mutual legal assistance processes.

GLO.ACT Kyrgyz MLA Dialogue"Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are transnational organized crimes, so promoting effective international cooperation among prosecutors is crucial today. We are very grateful to GLO.ACT for this great opportunity to have our colleagues from other Central Asian countries, the Russian Federation and Turkey to share their experience with us and to be able to build a strong network of prosecutors," said Ms. Zhamanbaeva Zh., Deputy General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic in her welcoming remarks.

Representatives from central authorities from Turkey responsible for international matters shared their country's experience on the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings as of 2016. The implementation of this convention envisages participation of Turkey in the monitoring system set up to supervise the implementation of the obligations contained in the convention. The convention consists of two pillars: the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and the Committee of the Parties. "We are lucky to be a part of GRETA, which ensures the introduction of victim-centered approaches in government efforts to fight trafficking in persons," said Mr. Duyku Harun, a judge working for the Turkish Ministry of Justice.

GLO.ACT significantly contributed to the international workshop by providing detailed interpretation of UNTOC and its supplementing two protocols on TIP and SOM, especially by underlining the importance of the criminalization of both crimes in national legislation. Relevant UNODC online products related to international cooperation and mutual legal assistance were also made available during the meeting. These included:

  • Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal "Case Law Database"
  • SHERLOC portal - Sharing Electronic Resources and Laws on Crime
  • Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool

GLO.ACT Kyrgyz MLA DialogueAll participants expressed their interest to actively use these online tools going forward and saw them as an important source of information to share with other colleagues in their respective countries.

Following discussions on challenges faced by countries of origin, transit and destination while responding to TIP and SOM cases, workshop participants developed a list of conclusions and recommendations.

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine. GLO.ACT works with the 13 countries to plan and implement strategic national counter-trafficking and counter smuggling efforts through a prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships approach. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.

 

For more information, please contact:

Madina Sarieva

madina.sarieva@un.org

www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act/

Email: glo.act@un.org

Twitter: @glo_act