UNODC Organized a study visit and a bilateral mock trial to strengthen trans-regional cooperation on human trafficking issues

With the support of the Republic of Italy and in partnership with the competent authorities of Niger and Morocco, from August 1 to 5, UNODC  the Regional Office for West and Central Africa  and the Regional Office for the Middle East (ROMENA) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized in Casablanca and Rabat a study visit and a bilateral mock trial between the two countries in order to strengthen trans-regional cooperation on human trafficking issues.

Niger is a departure, transit and destination point for victims of human trafficking and one of the main transit countries for West African migrants trying to reach Europe via North Africa. The Kingdom of Morocco, due to its geographical position, is a transit country for sub-Saharan migrants seeking to reach Europe via the Spanish coasts.

For both countries, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are matters of concern for which their authorities have made the fight against these crimes a priority. As the fight can only prosper through cooperation between States, UNODC, in its role of facilitating cooperation between States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), organized - in partnership with competent authorities in charge of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants - a study visit and a bilateral simulation of a trial between Morocco and Niger in order to strengthen trans-regional cooperation in cases of trafficking and smuggling along the migratory routes to Europe. The purpose of the activity was to allow criminal justice actors in Niger and their counterparts in Morocco to share and exchange, both strategically and operationally, best practices and key challenges in terms of security and judicial cooperation in the fight against the the crimes.

In this context, Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Director for West and Central Africa, stated “There is an urgent need to improve effectiveness of investigation and to intensify the development of a consolidated response model across regions in Africa, as human trafficking and migrant smuggling have no borders."

The activity brought together criminal justice and law enforcement actors from both countries who worked for four days on a practical case to be solved with the application of legislation and international instruments that facilitate information exchange, joint investigations, in addition to security and judicial cooperation. 

The four days of simulation were preceded by visits by the Nigerien counterpart to the National Laboratory of Technical and Scientific Police of Casablanca, the Cell of reception of women and children victims of violence and trafficking in persons in Rabat, affiliated to the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN), as well as the Ministry of Justice and the National Commission in charge of the fight and prevention against trafficking in persons in the Kingdom of Morocco. During this last meeting, a joint declaration was signed between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Niger on the occasion of the commemoration of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, celebrated on July 30th every year.

Through the support of UNODC, direct exchanges between the authorities of the two countries on best practices and challenges related to the response to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants have been facilitated, in addition to promoting channels for mutual learning and development of joint initiatives in judicial and security cooperation in the fight against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants with the aim of strengthening regional and international cooperation and exchange of operational information, through a human rights-based approach.

The activity was organized within the framework of the project "Strengthening International Judicial Cooperation to Combat Migrant Smuggling and Related Crimes in Niger", which is a continuation of the PROMIS (Protection of Migrants) Project developed jointly by UNODC and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its component on strengthening judicial cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination. The component is funded by the Republic of Italy and implemented by UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa.