GLO.ACT facilitates a seminar on the prosecution of trafficking in persons cases


GLO.ACT South Africa Litigation SurgeryPretoria, South Africa - 6 November 2017 - Under the framework of GLO.ACT, UNODC and the Africa Prosecutors Association (APA) facilitated a three-day seminar/litigation surgery on trafficking in persons (TIP) from 17-19 October 2017. In March and October 2016, UNODC's Regional Office for Southern Africa already facilitated two other litigation surgeries.

The main aim of these litigation surgeries is to build a healthy body of jurisprudence on TIP in the region and, consequently, to increase the number convictions obtained in the region. What sets these seminars apart from regular seminars on TIP is that they are inherently practical and applied in nature. These litigation surgeries deal with actual cases. In this case, the workshop enabled prosecutors from South, East and North Africa to discuss actual TIP cases they are currently working on. This included discussions on prosecution strategy, whether or not a TIP charge can be made, how to prepare such a charge, evidential challenges cases may present and leading of a witness during the trial itself. The prosecutors also discussed borderline cases and how to best prove the element of TIP in court.

GLO.ACT South Africa Litigation SurgeryThe workshop was opened by Dr. Arno Schaefer, the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in South Africa, who made participants aware of 18 October as EU Anti-Trafficking Day. He then elaborated the various cooperation projects that the EU runs to support efforts by criminal justice practitioners to combat TIP.

During her opening speech, Ms. Tiphanie Crittin, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at UNODC raised a statement from the 2016 UN Global Report on Trafficking in Persons that approximately a quarter of the countries in the world have less than 10 convictions per year. GLO.ACT hopes to support Member States in their ability to improve these conviction rates.

Speaking about the litigation surgery, Ms. Val Lotan said, "This platform has made a big difference in how we approach the cases. It has also strengthened cooperation amongst prosecutors. For example, I liaised with colleagues from Swaziland in a recent case, which is still before the court. I hope we take this as an opportunity to learn and to enable other prosecutors to learn." She also announced a conviction in one of the cases discussed during the previous workshop in October 2016. The accused was sentenced to life imprisonment.

During the workshop, robust discussions of more than 30 pending cases occurred, raising many complex issues. These issues included proving the intention to traffic where the case was intercepted in transit, proving TIP for organ removal with only circumstantial evidence, evidential complexities around the sale of children and borderline labour disputes which appear to have crossed the line to being a TIP case.

GLO.ACT South Africa Litigation Surgery By the end of workshop, ten prosecutors confirmed that they would continue with the prosecution of their TIP cases. Due to attending the litigation surgery, they feel they now have increased their chances of success. Two of the prosecutors agreed to appeal TIP cases in which there was a miscarriage of justice, and the group requested that these cases be brought to the attention of Directors of Public Prosecutions through the APA. Four prosecutors decided not to proceed with their cases as TIP cases, since the evidence available would more successfully prove other offences, such as smuggling of migrants, murder, abduction, etc. Other prosecutors realized they still needed to collect more evidence before they could successfully prove a charge of trafficking in persons. In two of the cases, the prosecutors committed to support each other with both informal and formal mutual legal assistance. The prosecutors also recommended to UNODC and the APA that similar platforms be convened in the future. They argued that this would allow the review of individual cases and TIP legislation with a view to achieving greater harmonization of legislation in the region.

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine. GLO.ACT works with the 13 countries to plan and implement strategic national counter-trafficking and counter smuggling efforts through a prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships approach. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.


For more information, please contact:

Mr. Banele Kunene, National Project Officer


Twitter: @glo_act