Vienna (Austria) – 4 July 2022. The Constructive Dialogues on Smuggling of Migrants & Trafficking in Persons concluded the first interactive series of dialogues on the Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), among States parties and relevant non-governmental stakeholders, organised and launched this year by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The fruitful engagement among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in the UNTOC review process through constructive dialogues that is provided for by para 53 of the procedures and rules for the functioning of the Mechanism for the Review of the Implementation of the UNTOC, following the conclusion of the sessions of the working groups.
Over 150 non-governmental stakeholders from all around the world participated both online and in-person. For the first time in this process, the two meetings featured panel discussions, with three panellists each.
Smuggling of Migrants: overcoming challenges
The chairperson Francesco Testa, European Delegated Prosecutor, European Public Prosecutor’s Office of Italy noted that Constructive Dialogues allow for cooperation and sharing of views between stakeholders and Governments to improve the implementation of the UNTOC.
Panellists and speakers for the Constructive Dialogue on Smuggling of Migrants stressed the need to protect the rights of smuggled migrants and assist them. The Constructive Dialogue on Smuggling of Migrants also featured youth voices. Ishaan Shah, a 19-year-old Founder of Stolen Dreams urged States to commit to a human-rights-based criminal justice approach, to ensure that migrants are treated with dignity, and for their fundamental human rights to be protected. Some recommendations made during the dialogue include; assessment of the knowledge gap in legal instruments and policy among judiciaries, deployment of material and human resources into border communities, address the drivers of migration and ensure access to legal migration paths with providing diverse options and integration strategies, and work more directly, deeply, efficiently with governments and multi-stakeholders on both local and global levels.
Trafficking in Persons: the need for a victim-centred approach
Patt Prugh, Attorney Adviser at the US Department of State and H.E. Esther Monterrubio Villar, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Spain to the International Organizations in Vienna, co-chaired the Constructive Dialogue on Trafficking in Persons. The Co-chairs stressed the importance of the Constructive Dialogues, as they offer an opportunity to listen to stakeholders’ views, exchange experiences, share concerns and provide recommendations on ways to address trafficking in persons.
Panellists and speakers in the Constructive Dialogue on Trafficking in Persons addressed issues pertaining to appropriate criminal justice response to victims who have been compelled to commit offences, effective cooperation in the prosecution of traffickers, and provided observations related to the review of the implementation of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
Speakers stressed the need for a victim-centred approach to addressing trafficking in persons and the presence of Kendall Alaimo, a survivor and international anti-human trafficking activist calling on human dignity and space for victims’ healing reinforced that message. Kendall Alaimo highlighted the importance of paying attention to women and children, as well as respect, protect, and preserve their human rights and dignity. “Let’s come together, let’s work together, let’s bring these survivors home,” - she said during her speech. “We should always believe in hope and have faith as we witness the world coming together to create innovative solutions that will drive pathways to freedom for many in need.” “After the rain there is always a fruitful harvest” - concluded Kendall.
Some recommendations made during the dialogue also include the need to foster national and international collaborations, to focus on protection and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking, the creation of sustainable prevention strategies – including the development of regional cross-sector bodies to monitor and to safeguard safe migration, and the establishment of standards for the implementation of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
These Constructive Dialogues concluded the first series of meetings with non-governmental stakeholders in the context of the UNTOC Review Mechanism. As it was highlighted this year, Constructive Dialogues are an effective feature of the UNTOC Review Mechanism. They have the immense potential to be a resourceful platform for partnership, sharing knowledge and experience between Member States and non-governmental stakeholders, and identification of technical assistance needs. UNODC is looking forward to the next Constructive Dialogues that will take place in 2023.