Meet the PROMIS* Champions

07-12-2020

Every week, we introduce you to one of the PROMIS project champions. People from all over West Africa who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, have continued to defend the rights of migrants and victims of human trafficking throughout the global health pandemic.

*The PROMIS project is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that aims to strengthen the capacity of West African states to develop a human rights-based response to migrant smuggling and to respond effectively to human rights violations related to irregular migration. The initial implementation of the project focuses on Mali, Niger, Senegal, The Gambia, and Côte d'Ivoire, with a subsequent extension to other West African countries.

The champion of the week:

Nana-Jo Ndow is a founder and executive director of the African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED), an NGO that campaigns against enforced disappearances and summary executions.

Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted with OHCHR. To read the full interview (in french), click here

 

ANEKED has campaigned against enforced disappearances and summary executions. What kind of approach doas your NGO bring to dealing with these violations in Africa, in other words, what does ANEKED do ? 

ANEKED combines the power of technology, legal expertise and traditional media to expose these injustices and advocate for justice for victims and their families. Activities include awareness raising, litigating against governments in courts, lobbying the appropriate institutions for laws to prevent and protect from such a crime. We adopt a victim-centred approached throughout our work and always apply a gender lens to the work. Men are most often the ones to be forcibly disappeared/killed, however, the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance defines victims of the crime as both the disappeared and those who have suffered harm as the direct result of an enforced disappearance. This has important implications for women, who comprise the majority of those left behind to pick up the pieces after a disappearance, haunted by the hope that their loved one is still alive. 

How does the PROMIS project fit into ANEKED's activities ?  

Enforced disappearance in the context of migration is a complex phenomenon, which is underreported. Our work contributes to highlighting this issue with the hope that it gets the attention it deserves. The transnational character of the problem also further highlights the need for cooperation between States, international and local organisations at the regional and global level. 

How did the pandemic affect your activities, especially your support on enforcd disappearancs in the context of migration ?

The pandemic means that a lot of the work we do had to move online (whenever possible), which can sometimes make communication difficult because of network issues etc. Furthermore, it has delayed implementation of other activities that need to be done in person as movement has been restricted due to lockdown measures or border closures so for instance, court hearings have been delayed and when they have resumed, they are held online, which means we need to ensure the persons concerned have internet access to be able to join.

What are the main lessons you have learned since the beginning of the pandemic, regarding the protection of migrants and their rights ? 

The pandemic further revealed the greater vulnerability migrants who are in an irregular situation or undocumented face. Many who worked informal jobs without benefits or the right to unemployment benefits have been left out of the assistance measures implemented by States, further marginalising them. Migrants have a right to health and states have a responsibility to integrate them into national COVID-19 prevention and response plans and policies, regardless of their status or nationality.

 

For more information:

Discover the PROMIS* champions who are working for the protection and promotion of the human rights of migrants during COVID 19

The interview in full (in French) : Nana Jo-Ndow