8 February 2017 - Deeply concerned by the sharp increase of flows in refugees, asylum seekers and migrants taking dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean, European and African leaders adopted the Joint Valletta Action Plan in November 2015 to comprehensively address the challenges posed by this situation. Since then, UNODC intensified its efforts to support Member States in one of the five priorities of the action plan aiming at preventing and combatting migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
UNODC joined senior officials from Europe and Africa in Malta from 8-9 February to take stock of the progress made since the adoption of the action plan, as they acknowledged that the fight against networks of migrant smugglers and human traffickers needed to be stepped up through a stronger focus on measures aimed at tackling these crimes, including cross-border cooperation, legislative reform and capacity building.
John Brandolino, Director of Treaty Affairs, reiterated UNODC's "commitment to support and collaborate with all stakeholders to address the priorities of the Joint Valetta Action Plan, including through the development of a holistic response to dismantle criminal networks involved in human trafficking and migrant smuggling, while fully assuring the protection of victims and vulnerable migrants".
Providing a common framework for an effective joint response, the Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Protocols, which complement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, have been ratified by most participating States and yet are not sufficiently and fully implemented. As the situation in the European vicinity remains dramatic, with a new record of lives lost at sea in 2016, and while the business of smugglers and traffickers keeps on thriving, the United Nations (UN) as whole is mobilizing to develop a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
"It is only when safe, regular migration and mobility exist in a solid human rights framework, and when issues such as smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings are addressed through human rights-based responses, that adequate protection is possible and the development benefits of migration can become truly tangible.", said Barbara Pesce-Monteiro, UNDP Director, while delivering a statement on behalf of the UN at the Valletta meeting.