Strengthening the capacities of West African states to develop a human rights-based response to smuggling of migrants and to effectively respond to human rights violations related to irregular migration - PROMIS (2021-2024)

The “Strengthening the capacities of West African states to develop a human rights-based response to smuggling of migrants and to effectively respond to human rights violations related to irregular migration (PROMIS)” project supported by the Government of the Netherlands and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) commenced in Nigeria in January 2021.

 

The first phase of the PROMIS project was launched in 2016 by UNODC and OHCHR, with funding from the Netherlands and Italy, in order to promote a human rights-based response to smuggling of migrants and related crimes and effectively combat human rights violations related to irregular migration in West Africa.

 

A second phase started in December 2017, which supported the deployment of two Nigerian liaison magistrates in Italy and Spain, to strengthen international cooperation between Nigeria and European countries.

 

The lack of effective judicial cooperation between foreign countries (primarily European) and Nigeria still strongly undermines successful investigations and prosecutions in trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants’ (TIP/SOM) cases. The major obstacles are, in particular: the lack of timely response and execution of mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests as well as the challenges related to internal coordination among various Nigerian law enforcement agencies at both federal and state level and limited participation of victims’ groups.

 

The third phase of the PROMIS project started in 2021 and aims to tackle these challenges by strengthening Federal and States governments capacities to prevent and fight trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, as well as reinforcing both international cooperation and coordination in investigating and prosecuting TIP/SOM cases, while promoting human rights and ensuring a gender-based approach.

 

UNODC will provide capacity building trainings to relevant Nigerian law enforcement agencies as well as to the recently established State Task Forces against human trafficking to strengthen joint and intelligence led investigations and prosecutions at State and Federal levels. It will also support prevention activities by systematically building human rights capacities of victims and communities enhancing their engagement in the national response.

 

Since 2018, UNODC has been supporting the deployment of Nigerian liaison magistrates to Italy and Spain to strengthen judicial cooperation in the field of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. Despite the encouraging results showed by the initiative in overcoming the challenges mentioned above, further support is required to reinforce the follow-up of the requests received through the deployed liaison magistrates and to enhance national coordination related to these cases. The project will seek to overcome these challenges by increasing coordination and information exchange between Nigerian counterparts and foreign partners on specific cases, as well as by organizing seminars on international cooperation with law enforcement officers, prosecutors and members of the Judiciary.