West Africa: UNODC promotes regional cooperation in human trafficking and migrant smuggling cases


WACAP & GLO.ACT 2017Vienna, Austria - 21 December 2017 - In West Africa, as in many other regions, successful prosecution of human trafficking and migrant smuggling cases can be difficult and complicated. Differences in legal systems, institutions and languages as well as serious resource constraints hinder cooperation efforts, thus limiting effective results.

With a view to addressing human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants in the region, UNODC recently hosted a workshop promoting regional cooperation for members of the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organised Crime ( WACAP).  Held in Vienna, the two-day event brought together over 20 participants from eight West African countries: Mali, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal.

WACAP & GLO.ACT 2017In his opening remarks, Ilias Chatzis, Chief of UNODC's Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, described the promotion of regional cooperation as essential given WACAP countries' migration links to Mali and Niger for human trafficking and migrant smuggling routes.

The workshop focused on several issues, including core concepts in addressing human trafficking cases; international cooperation instruments such as UNODC's Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool; and regional cooperation in West Africa. In the discussions, many participants emphasized the need to overcome challenges such as language and legal system differences, as well as complex evidence collection in transnational organized crime cases.

Karen Kramer, Coordinator of UNODC's Serious and Organized Crime Programme, noted that cooperation was critical in obtaining information and evidence, which are necessary to investigate and prosecute cross-border crimes. She highlighted that the WACAP network facilitates coordinated action and the resolution of obstacles.

WACAP & GLO.ACT 2017Throughout the event, national experts called upon WACAP and the UNODC-led Global Actions against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants ( GLO.ACT) to strengthen capacity on evidential basis. This is on the basis that many cases often fail to meet the threshold for conviction due to lack of understanding and capacity of law enforcement and prosecution officials.  National experts also requested further training on the newly updated Mutual Legal Assistance request writer tool.

Representing the European Union Delegation, Lambert Schmidt explained the bloc's new communiqué on trafficking in persons. He underscored the need to disrupt the modus operandi of traffickers, strengthen victims' rights and intensify internal and external efforts to provide a coordinated and consistent response.

WACAP & GLO.ACT 2017UNODC, through its global programmes, supports Member States in their fight against human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The workshop was organized under the framework of GLO.ACT and the Global Programme to Assist Member States to Strengthen Capacities to Prevent and Combat Organized and Serious Crime (GPTOC).

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.


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