Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants

Virtually every country in the world is affected by trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. The challenge for all countries, rich and poor, is to target the criminals who exploit desperate people and to protect and assist victims of trafficking as well as smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life.

By definition, trafficking in persons is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them while the smuggling of migrants involves the procurement, for financial or other material benefit, of illegal entry of a person into a state of which that person is not a national or resident.

As the only United Nations entity focusing on the criminal justice element of these crimes, the work that UNODC does to combat trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on those two issues: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

Regional Co-ordination

Trafficking in persons is a major global concern affecting all regions of the world including Southern Africa. Building on the growing awareness and recognition of the need for a coordinated response in order to combat this crime at the continental, regional and national level, UNODC Southern Africa predicates its work on the ratification and effective implementation of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. This includes drafting of specialized legislation, harmonization of existing legislation and development of regional and national policies and plans of action.

Taking this into account, UNODC Southern Africa has established a partnership with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Within this collaboration, the office is providing legal and technical advice and assistance to all SADC member states in order to strengthen their legal and technical capacities in ratifying and implementing the Convention and the trafficking in persons protocol.

UNODC Southern Africa is also undertaking assessments of legislation and policies on trafficking in persons in selected SADC member states with the aim of providing legal and technical assistance in drafting specialised legislation and development of national policies and plans of action. The office is furthermore assisting SADC with the development and adoption of a SADC Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons and will be assisting the SADC Secretariat with the implementation of this Plan of Action.

As part of its global programme to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, UNODC continues to provide regional training, advice and assistance on international cooperation including Mutual Legal Assistance, extradition, joint investigations and exchange of information in order to strengthen intra-regional and international cooperation in terms of the appropriate Convention and its Protocols.