Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Second Regional Workshop on "International and Regional Cooperation in Investigating and Prosecuting Trafficking in Persons"

10-12 October 2017, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 

Promoting and supporting international and regional cooperation is a central part of UNODC's effort to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. Investigating and prosecuting traffickers is a complex and lengthy process, which can be complicated by the involvement of many different jurisdictions, legislations as well as legal and political challenges. Additionally, the fact that the "commodity" object of these crimes are human beings that deserve protection and assistance, rendering these crimes is even more complex.

UNODC is working with Governments around the world to address these challenges and recently hosted a regional workshop on international and regional cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. The three-day workshop in Tashkent, Uzbekistan focused on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons as well as the need to strengthen cooperation in the West and Central Asia region and beyond.

In their opening statements, the Deputy General Prosecutor of Uzbekistan, H.E Erkin Yuldashev, and the Ambassador of Italy to Uzbekistan, H.E. Andrea Bertozzi both highlighted the critical importance of regional and international cooperation.

Currently, the lack of uniform legislation in West and Central Asia as well as weak cooperation especially with the destination countries, including Europe and the Gulf make prosecution of these crimes as well as protection of the victims extremely challenging.

Two Italian prosecutors and two Italian senior law enforcement officers with substantial experience in investigating and prosecuting in these areas supported the event and stressed the role that international and regional cooperation plays. Mr Lorenzo Gestri, a public prosecutor, with extensive experience in investigating cases of smuggling of migrants in Central Italy discussed with the participants the challenges he experiences and said that " investigating crimes involving human trafficking/smuggling of migrants requires close cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination. Without cooperation it is impossible to get the full picture and shut down the criminal networks/organizations that operate in all countries involved ".

UNODC, through its Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring countries is strongly engaged in fighting these heinous crimes in West and Central Asia and will continue partnering with European experts to facilitate cooperation at regional and inter-regional levels.

The event drew prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Iran I.R, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, as well as experts from UNODC's Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, the Regional Office for Central Asia and the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section.

The event led to the establishment of an informal regional network of experts consisting of law enforcement and prosecution practitioners from the Regional Programme countries.