UNODC supports the deployment of a Nigerian Prosecutor in Italy

This activity was funded by Italy and the Netherlands

The continuous influx of migrants crossing the Sahel and the Mediterranean Sea, making their way from West Africa to Europe is worrying both West African and European governments. It puts their life at risk, making them vulnerable to human rights violations and trafficking in persons. Despite certain efforts, the number of trafficking and smuggling cases that are investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated in the West African region remains very low. Indeed, the transnationality of the criminal networks makes it complex to build and adjudicate cases.

In this context, judicial cooperation appears as a relevant response. UNODC thus supported the Project "Strengthening the Transnational Response to Smuggling of Migrants and Maritime Crime in West, North and East Africa", funded by Italy, and the project PROMIS ("Protection of Migrants") funded by the Netherlands. This initiative aims at building capacities to detect, investigate and prosecute smuggling of migrants cases. To do so, since February 2018, a Nigerian prosecutor from the Ministry of Justice has been appointed, with a verbal note issued by the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as liaison magistrate for the Nigerian Central Authority in Italy and embedded in the prosecution offices of Catania and Palermo.

The focus is to enhance cooperation by offering legal and logistical support and expertise, within the framework of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, serving as a link on cases between Nigerian and Italian authorities. This deployment is taking place also in synergy with the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP), seeking to facilitate the work of the European Union Member States' prosecution offices and other European law enforcement and investigative agencies.

The Nigerian prosecutor in Sicily

In practice, the liaison officer for the Nigerian Central Authority is facilitating information sharing among competent authorities and, above all, facilitating mutual legal assistance between Italy and Nigeria on smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

In May 2018, the Nigerian prosecutor and liaison magistrate for the Central Authority was invited to participate in the UN Security Council Open Arria Formula Meeting on "Maritime Crime as a Threat to International Peace and Security", hosted by the Permanent Missions of Equatorial Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, the Netherlands and the United States to the UN with the UNODC. The Prosecutor took this opportunity to brief the panellists and public on the progress of the project, and participated in key discussions that seek to address the need for regular coordination and joint operations.

It is of great interest to extend this good practice in time and with new partners. ROSEN, with funding from Italy and the Netherlands, will support logistically and advocate the deployment of African experts in other European countries.

For more information :

UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme in the Altantic Ocean

The West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP)

UNODC co-organizes Security Council Arria-formula meeting to discuss maritime crime