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Combatting Trafficking in Persons in Accordance with the Principles of Islamic Law  

Nairobi, 14 October 2020UNODC recently convened a regional webinar on countering Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in accordance with the principles of Islamic Law as well as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (TIP Protocol), supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

Facilitated by UNODC expert, Dr. Mohamed Y. Mattar, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Law Clinic at Qatar University College of Law Research, the webinar, presented as part of the UNODC regional project on Enhancing effective and victim-centered criminal justice responses to Trafficking in Persons in Eastern Africa, funded by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, was attended by participants from the Republic of Djibouti, Republic of South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, Federal Republic of Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania (Zanzibar), and the Arab Republic of Egypt.

TIP manifests itself as exploitation in different forms in different countries, whether for the purposes of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation in service industries such as fishing, construction, and agriculture, as well as domestic servitude. No region or country, including Muslim countries in Eastern Africa, is immune to this crime.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and initial travel restrictions across the region, TIP continues to pose a major threat to human security and development in Eastern Africa – whether domestic or transnational. With organized criminal groups operating across borders and often from beyond the region, organized crime including TIP, remains a complex threat to prevent and prosecute, especially when elements and evidence of the crime are scattered across jurisdictions.

UNTOC and the TIP Protocol requires each State Party to adopt legislative and other measures as may be necessary to 1) establish TIP as criminal offence as defined by the Protocol, 2) to ensure effective prevention, investigation and prosecution of TIP, and 3) to provide for the protection and repatriation of victims of this crime, as necessary. However, while UNTOC and the TIP Protocol provide States with the central guiding framework for countering TIP, to be most effective, national legislatures should adopt legal provisions that are consistent with both the international legal framework as well as national legal systems and customs in respective States. Since legal traditions and legal systems in many Muslim countries rely primarily on Islamic Law, understanding how to counter TIP in the context of Islamic legal provisions and traditions, is very important.

Although Member States in Eastern Africa have been making great progress with adopting legislation to counter TIP, many countries still need to either adopt or strengthen existing legislation to be fully compliant with international obligations. For this reason and as part of the regional US-funded project, UNODC has been assisting countries to strengthen its national legislation. As part of this assistance, the webinar provided an opportunity for further discussion of the position of Islam and Islamic Law on the crime of TIP.

During the webinar, Dr. Mattar highlighted the compatibility and complementarity of Islamic Law with the international framework on countering TIP. He also provided guidance and advice to policy makers and technical advisors on how to interpret and comply with the international legal framework in the context of Islamic Law and customs. Besides a presentation on provisions of both Islam and Islamic Law as a foundation to achieve conformity aligned with the provisions of UNTOC and the Protocol, the webinar also allowed participants to discuss best practices in countering TIP from their respective countries in accordance with Islamic Law.

Considering the interest and need for more discussions on the topic as indicated by participants, UNODC will be convening further meetings to elaborate on the subject in the context of Eastern Africa.


Interested in knowing more? Download the UNODC e-book on Combating Trafficking in Persons in accordance with the Principles of Islamic Law and the UNODC Thematic Brief on the Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Trafficking in Persons.


For more information, please contact:

Mr. Johan Kruger –

Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes

UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa