UNODC supports Liberia in the fight against smuggling of migrants through legislative consultation

Funded by the Government of Canada

In West Africa, smuggling of migrants constitutes a serious threat to human security and remains an impediment to economic development and the rule of law. According to research and information collected by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the region, the modus operandi of smuggling networks and the routes used thereby change constantly. 

A significant challenge to effectively addressing migrant smuggling in West Africa, including in Liberia, is the fact that legal frameworks are not consistent with international instruments related to the smuggling of migrants and or human rights. Furthermore, efforts aiming at enhancing the capacities of law enforcement to detect and investigate smuggling networks need to be supported by formal judicial cooperation, such as mutual legal assistance and extradition procedures between countries of origin, transit and destination. 

Following a request received from the Government of Liberia, UNODC conducted an assessment mission in Monrovia in June 2018. During this mission, UNODC experts met with various national and international stakeholders to identify potential gaps in the national legislation, as well as the challenges and technical assistance needs in effectively addressing the issue of smuggling of migrants. Recommendations from the assessment highlighted the need to create a specific law on smuggling of migrants, to provide the legal basis for the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.

In the framework of UNODC's continued support to the Government of Liberia and in continuation with the previous June 2018 mission, UNODC held a consultation workshop in Monrovia from 13-15 November which aimed to provide further legislative and technical support to Liberian institutions directly related with smuggling of migrants.

Participants of the workshop alongside UNODC experts

In doing so, UNODC reunited with concerned stakeholders from relevant Government Ministries, such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection, the Liberia National Police, the National Security Agency and the Liberia Immigration Service. Also present where Civil Society Organizations working on smuggling of migrants in Liberia such as the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC).

This enabled the UNODC to further its support to these institutions in their fight against smuggling of migrants by increasing the understanding of this multi-faceted phenomenon and explaining the international mechanisms of cooperation in criminal matters. The final outcome of the meeting was to validate the idea to create a technical national legislative drafting committee to elaborate a new law on smuggling of migrants. Key partners have been identified and legal drafting will start in the first quarter of 2019.

Through its Regional Office based in Senegal, and its 10 country offices based in the region, UNODC launched, in August 2015, its Regional Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (2015-2020) for West and Central Africa. It aims to strengthen the capacities of countries in the region to combat criminal networks profiting from smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons while protecting the rights of the victims.

For more information:

Definitions and tools on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

UNODC Regional Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants 2015-2020