UNODC Commemorates the World Day against Trafficking in Persons in Dakar

Dakar, 30 July 2022 -The Regional Office for West and Central Africa of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime  commemorated on Saturday 30 July 2022, at the Spanish Cultural Centre (Instituto Cervantes de Dakar), the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

Several Ambassadors accredited in Dakar as well as high representatives of international institutions participated in the commemoration which served as a framework for exchanges and sensitization on issues related to of trafficking in persons. UNODC and its partners unanimously insisted on the need to strengthen prevention against trafficking in persons in the region.

The Regional Director of UNODC West and Central Africa, Dr. Amado Philip de ANDRÉS, congratulated the countries of the region, mentioning in particular countries such as Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana and Senegal, for their efforts in the fight against trafficking in persons. Her  Excellency Joan WIEGMAN, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to Senegal, explained how charming traffickers can be, using stratagems to lure their victims to whom they promise great things. Thus, the diplomat called for more vigilance when a promise is too grandiose. "There is no such thing as a mountain of gold», she said. Her Excellency Olga CABARGA GOMEZ, the Ambassador of The Kingdom of Spain, insisted on the need to act collectively against the phenomenon of trafficking in persons: «this phenomenon concerns us all and only a synergy of action can enable us to face it".

For Amado de ANDRÉS, all forms of trafficking do not seem to be treated equally. Some are highlighted more than others. "Globally, the best-known form of trafficking in persons is sexual exploitation (53-60% of victims). Not enough is said about forced labor, which is the second form of trafficking, the third is child begging and the fourth is trafficking for the purpose of organ removal", he said. To honor the 2022 edition of this commemoration, UNODC ROSEN was accompanied by the French-Senegalese-Canadian artist Alexiane SILLA, who composed a song "Blue Hearts" especially for the day, which she presented to the journalists and the various authorities present at the ceremony.

As the guest of honor of the UNODC, the young singer composed and performed a song that highlights one of the forms of trafficking that is deeply rooted in Senegal: The exploitation of children for the purpose of begging. "I was honored that the United Nations contacted me to write this piece because I lived my childhood in Senegal, my father is Senegalese. Since I was a child, I was confronted with the reality of the talibés (children who beg). Finally, I feel like I'm here to give a voice to those who don't have one. I believe that with this message I can shed light on the victims who are survivors and who feel broken", Alexiane told journalists on the sidelines of the event.

To make the fight against trafficking in persons more effective, state actors - such as the public prosecutor, the police, the Ministry of the Interior - cannot do anything on their own, observes the UNODC regional Director. "The media, civil society and religious leaders must also be involved. We need religious leaders to communicate the prevention message to their followers; private actors such as banks, hotels and airlines, must also be part of the prevention", said Dr. Amado Philip de ANDRÉS.

The Coordinator of the United Nations system, Mr. Siaka COULIBALY, underlined the fact that "very often, trafficking in persons is not isolated. It goes hand in hand with other crimes such as migrant smuggling, corruption, cybercrime and financial crime". As digital technology has become an important tool in the modus operandi of traffickers, Ms. Giovanie Biha, Deputy Representative of the Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, read out the message of the Secretary General of the United Nations during the occasion of the World Day to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Through his message, the UN SG proposed "A global digital compact to rally the world around the need for good governance in the digital space". Mrs. Awa NDOUR, the Representative of the Unit for the fight against Trafficking in Persons at the Ministry of Justice, took the floor to highlight the efforts made by the government of Senegal to fight against this phenomenon.

This commemoration is just one step in UNODC ROSEN's efforts to discourage traffickers. The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the song "Blue Hearts"  https://youtu.be/-zqer49-P6c. Click on the below links to listen to the full messages from:

Netherlands Ambasador https://youtu.be/YIauOUeeSwI

Spanish Ambassador https://youtu.be/TrkO_-57EJo 

UNODC (ROSEN)Regional Director https://youtu.be/sZjPw5OC7M0