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Charting the way for an East Africa Free of Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling

UNTOC BMM Entebbe Somalia UNODCEntebbe (Uganda), 28 October 2022 – Somalia was one of the Member States present at the Regional Conference on the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) that was held in Entebbe to encourage Member States to commit to the Convention and its supplementary Protocols.

Amongst East African Member States, Somalia and South Sudan are yet to ratify UNTOC and its supplementary Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Protocols, whilst Uganda has acceded to UNTOC - but not the supplementary Protocols.

UNTOC is the leading international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime (TOC). When Member States ratify UNTOC, they commit to taking serious measures to prevent and suppress TOC. These measures will lead to reduced transnational organized crime, which will make way for safety and sustainability for people and businesses.

Benefits of becoming a party to UNTOC include access to UNODC technical assistance and capacity building of law enforcement and law practitioners; access to frameworks and mechanisms for international cooperation and mutual legal assistance; and protection of vulnerable groups – in particular women and children.

Implementing the obligations under UNTOC requires dedicated commitment from Member States, and as Ms. Maria Temesvari, Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes at UNODC, said in her speech during the opening of the regional conference: “UNODC is thrilled to see more East African Member States committing to combating human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and we will continue to provide support every step of the way”.

Senior officials from the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Offices of Directors of Public Prosecutions in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda participated in the conference which was co-hosted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda.

UNODC presented the added value of the accession process, available tools, and technical assistance activities that we can provide Member States to assist implementation.

The Governments of Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya discussed the need for enhanced cooperation and stronger border security among the three countries to address cross-border organized crime.

"With today’s technological innovations, the movement of money and persons has become easier and quicker. These provide fertile opportunities for criminal groups to expand their businesses, at pace. It is critical that Member States enhance international cooperation to counter the threat,” said Ms. Anna Tsitsina, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at UNODC. 

Member States, including the Governments of Somalia, Uganda, and South Sudan expressed interest in ratifying UNTOC and its Protocols and highlighted the need for more awareness raising on the indicators of these crimes, strengthened legislative frameworks, and enhanced bilateral and regional coordination.

The Government of Kenya, which is currently strengthening its Counter Trafficking in Persons Act (CTIPA), 2010, highlighted the need to design comprehensive anti-smuggling legislation.

The trafficking and smuggling issue in the Horn of Africa with more than 10 million people in and around the Horn currently living outside their homes (UN 2019) is a complex challenge for Member States to manage.

Facing this challenge, UNODC has been supporting Member States by implementing the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme in the Horn of Africa since 2016, of which Phase II was just completed with the conclusion of the regional conference in Entebbe.

The BMM programme is funded by the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust fund for Africa (EUTF) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented together with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Civipol, British Council, CIVIPOL, International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Moving forward, UNODC will continue to support Member States by supporting policy harmonization and enhancing the legal frameworks on human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as building and reinforcing the capacities of key actors to fight these crimes.

For more information, please contact: 
Mr. Sandro Donati (  
Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer
UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa