PRESS RELEASE 30/07/2020

 

Nigerian liaison magistrates close the gap between EU and Africa in prosecuting human trafficking cases

 

30-07-2020 DAKAR, ABUJA   On the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC recognizes the important contribution of the Liaison Magistrate Initiative and of the Nigerian prosecutors deployed in Europe to strengthen judicial cooperation on trafficking cases. The initiative has been contributing to accompany victims and to tackle the impunity of human traffickers.

The theme of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons focuses on the first responders working on the front lines to end human trafficking. Like the frontline heroes saving lives and sustaining our societies during the COVID-19 pandemic, these providers of justice contribute towards prosecuting more and more cases of human trafficking despite the on-going health crisis.  

Bringing perpetrators to justice provides restitution for the identified victims, ensures they have access to justice, and prevents further abuse and exploitation.

UNODC officially launched the Liaison Magistrate initiative in February 2018 which aims to enhance international judicial cooperation between West Africa and Europe on cases of trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and other related crimes.

The first Nigerian prosecutor was deployed in Italy to speed up communication and facilitate mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests on human trafficking cases and other related crimes involving Nigeria and Italy.

 

Building on the success of the first deployment, a second Nigerian prosecutor was deployed to Spain in March 2019, and later two additional liaison magistrates from Ethiopia and Eritrea were deployed for a short-term period to Italy (Sept.-Oct. 2019).

For the Nigerian liaison magistrates (LMs), their deployment to Italy and Spain has strengthened international judicial cooperation and built trust between Nigeria and their host countries.

“The initiative has provided both the European and African prosecutors to the fora for exchange of experience and expertise. Furthermore, it has helped in showing the underworld of organized criminality and that Africa is no longer a hiding place for them”, said the LM to Italy who requires anonymity for security reasons.

While the number of trafficking victims identified in Europe is high, the number of successful prosecutions and convictions remains low often due to lack of evidence that requires collaboration in both countries of origin and destination, making trafficking in persons a low-risk, high-reward criminal enterprise. Due to this, effective judicial cooperation between countries is key to an efficient criminal justice response to transnational organized crime, including trafficking in persons.

“Criminal groups are not encumbered by inconveniences such as differences in legal systems and regulations. International cooperation is the only way to ensure that criminal networks are dismantled, victims find restitution and perpetrators are brought to justice”, stated the LM to Spain.

Since the LM Initiative was launched, EU prosecutors have transmitted a larger amount of investigative material related to cases to the Nigerian liaison magistrates.

In some cases, this even helped launch judicial cooperation between the home country and the hosting country.

 

Read the full interview with the Liaison Magistrates deployed in Europe here

 

As of today, forty-four (44) cases are ongoing, several investigations were opened, thirty-four (34) MLA and rogatory requests were transmitted and one (01) suspect was arrested and convicted.  The Liaison Magistrate Initiative is implemented with the support of the Governments of Netherlands and Italy, in close coordination with the Federal Ministry of Justice of Nigeria in the framework of PROMIS project.

PROMIS project is a joint initiative between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The project aims to strengthen the capacity of West African countries to develop a human rights-based response to the smuggling of migrants and to respond effectively to human rights violations related to irregular migration.

On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, have a heart for the victims of human trafficking and join the blue heart campaign.

#LeaveNoOneBehind  #HumanTrafficking  #EndHumanTrafficking  Have a #BlueHeart

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For media requests please contact:  

Emmanuelle Landais
Communication Specialist
UNODC Regional Office for West & Central Africa 
Dakar, Senegal
emmanuelle.landais@un.org
https://www.unodc.org/westandcentralafrica
 
Sylvester Tunde ATERE  
Communication and Outreach
UNODC Nigeria Country Office, Abuja
sylvester.atere@un.org
+234 701 683 9158, +234 803 264 7975           
www.unodc.org/nigeria
 

 

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For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/westandcentralafrica/en/2018-08-06-nigerian-prosecutor-italy.html

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2019/October/unodc-promis-project-improves-judicial-cooperation-between-africa-and-europe.html