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Kenya and Uganda work closer to counter organized crime in East Africa

Entebbe and Naivasha (Uganda/Kenya), 04 March 2021 – Crimes that cross borders need a transnational response, and international cooperation is key to preventing these crimes, securing convictions and providing support to the people affected.To foster such collaboration, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) within the framework of the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme, brought together officials from Kenya and Uganda to enhance bilateral, legal cooperation in cases of human trafficking and migrant smuggling that involve both countries.

BMM Bilateral hybrid virtual workshop uganda kenya

Transnational organized criminal groups that traffic people and smuggle migrants are highly active in and between both Kenya and Uganda.

The perpetrators of these crimes, the people whose lives they trade in and their illicit proceeds, all move across national borders – whether physically or virtually. 

“We must work across borders to stop and disrupt human trafficking and migrant smuggling and to protect and assist victims and migrants of various nationalities,” said Johan Kruger, UNODC’s Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes for Eastern Africa, at the opening of the online event.

Mr. Kruger stressed the need to enhance transnational cooperation in criminal matters, including in preventative operations and joint investigations.

Kenya is an origin, transit, and destination country for trafficking for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation, whereas Uganda is mainly a country of origin and transit.

Most labour migrants from Uganda to the Middle East use Nairobi as the transit port. Other migrants who transit through Uganda and Kenya come from Burundi and Rwanda.

Many aspects of globalization, such as easier and faster communication, movement of capital and movement of people, have created opportunities for transnational organized criminal groups to develop, diversify and expand their activities at the international level.

The workshop, which was attended by representatives from the Kenyan and Ugandan Offices of the Attorney General and of the Director of Public Prosecutions, focused primarily on mutual legal assistance and extradition requests in cases of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

“While cases of smuggling of migrants are always transnational, trafficking in persons can be both transnational or domestic, but often involves information or evidence located in more than one country,” said Anna Tsitsina, from UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, who coordinated the event.

Mutual legal assistance is a formal mechanism for gathering and transferring information or evidence across borders for purposes of criminal investigations or prosecutions.

Extradition is a formal process by which one sovereign State requests and obtains custody of an accused person or convicted perpetrator already serving a prison sentence, located within the jurisdiction of another sovereign State.

“So, both processes are vital tools to cooperate across borders in global efforts to prevent and address transnational crimes,” said Ms. Tsitsina.

 Ahead of the workshop, participants prepared and exchanged mutual legal assistance and extradition requests based on fictional case scenarios, which were developed from real cases.

“Once we were in the workshop, the focus was on discussing requests, just like it would happen in real life, enabling us to simulate a real life bilateral judicial cooperation scenario. It was the first time such a methodology was deployed by UNODC,” said Anna Tsitsina.  

The main objective of the training was to enhance practical skills in the drafting of outgoing requests for mutual legal assistance and extradition, as well as the handling of incoming requests.

A further goal was to improve implementation of Kenya’s and Uganda’s international legal obligations under the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol.

Participants also learned more about the laws and procedures governing mutual legal assistance and extradition.

“I was honoured to be invited to this event,” said Adrine Asingwire, Chief State Attorney, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Uganda.

“The workshop theme is relevant to my daily work and this was an opportunity for me to learn more and build solid relations with colleagues from Uganda and Kenya,” she added.

“I will use the knowledge gained for drafting mutual legal assistance and extradition documents and in following up on progress of investigations with key agencies.”

Catherine Mwaniki, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of International Cooperation, Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition Division, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Kenya, also participated in the event.

"Parties representing both countries got to better understand each other's legislation in respect of various transnational organized crimes, together with conventions and protocols that the two countries have ratified."

"Our two countries share borders and more often than not there is frequent movement of persons between the two countries, some in violation of the two countries' laws," she said.


For more information, please contact: 

Mr. Johan Kruger –

Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes

UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa