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Enhancing Victim-Centered Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Djibouti

Nairobi, Kenya, 21 SeptemberOn Friday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of Norway signed a new agreement to continue to support the Government of Djibouti to counter trafficking in persons (TIP) and smuggling of migrants (SOM). 

The new funding will expand the current UNODC project on the Construction of an Emergency Shelter for Victims of Trafficking and Vulnerable Smuggled Migrants in Djibouti”, also funded by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of Norway, to include capacity building and specialized training. As part of the current project, UNODC is constructing a Centre for the Gendarmerie at Lake Assal in central-western Djibouti to be used as a facility to identify possible victims of TIP and vulnerable migrants while they wait to be assessed by the Gendarmerie.

The new funding will enable UNODC to implement a further 2-year project, starting 1 October 2020, aimed at training and certifying staff to be deployed to the Centre to ensure compliance with international legal obligations, especially in relation to protecting and assisting victims of TIP. The new project will also ensure oversight at the Centre through regular visits by UNODC and other UN entities. In addition, the project will allow UNODC to provide specialized joint training to the National Police, Gendarmerie and Office of the Prosecutor General on victim-centered and human rights-based investigation and prosecution of TIP and SOM cases.

Between 2008 and 2016, over 365,000 migrants from Ethiopia, Somalia, and to a lesser extent, Eritrea, passed through Djibouti, walking along the coastal road past Lake Assal – one of the lowest and hottest places on earth – to Obock on their way to Yemen and the Gulf States via the Red Sea. It is unclear how many of these migrants ultimately ended up being exploited as victims of TIP, either en route or at their destination.

Despite the large number of migrants passing Lake Assal annually, current facilities do not provide an adequate environment to properly assess migrants in order to determine their legal status, including whether they are potential or actual victims of TIP.

The new Centre – to be completed by October 2020 – will provide a more humane environment for assessments, including addressing basic needs of migrants, such as overnight shelter, medical care and food. In turn, UNODC training which will form part of the new project, will ensure that staff who will be managing the Centre will be able to respond to migrants with a victim-centered and human rights-based approach. The training will also assist criminal justice practitioners to more effectively investigate and prosecute the crimes of TIP and SOM.

The project will be implemented as part of the UNODC regional Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Programme for Eastern Africa, within the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for Eastern Africa (2016-2021).

More information

Interested in knowing more about the United Nations and what they are up to in Djibouti? click here  

For more information on the impact of COVID-19 on TIP – click here

For more information, please contact: 

Mr. Johan Kruger –

Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes

UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa