POLITICS TODAY

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Africa opens another chapter in fight against human trafficking



15 Apr 2011 17:24 Africa/Lagos

Africa opens another chapter in fight against human trafficking

ADDIS ABABA, March 25, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Africa has launched a new two-pronged campaign to operationalise its four-year old continental instrument to address the challenges of trafficking in persons, particularly women and children through regional workshops and the launching of the African Union's Initiative against Trafficking (AU.COMMIT) in the Regional Economic Communities (REC”s). The latest initiative, a joint programme of the African Union, ECOWAS, the International Organisation on Migration (IOM) and the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), would develop a road map for implementing the Ouagadougou Action Plan agreed by the African Union in 2006.

“The workshop is of critical importance to countries of Africa and to the Regional Economic Communities (REC's) considering that it is the second in a series of planned launches of the COMMIT campaign that has the critical goal of aligning the Ouagadougou Action Plan with those of the various REC's,” ECOWAS President Ambassador Victor Gbeho said in a message to the workshop and launching for West Africa on Wednesday, 24th March 2010 at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Ouagadougou Action Plan prioritizes a host of activities for implementation, reflecting the dimensions of the scourge in the areas of prevention, creating awareness, victim protection and assistance, instituting an appropriate legal regime, policy development, law enforcement, cooperation and coordination.

“Exploitation lies at the centre of the concept of trafficking in persons,” Ambassador Gheho said in a message read by Commissioner Adrienne Diop to the 60 participants at the three-day workshop, blaming “certain social and economic realities” for this burgeoning criminal enterprise, particularly the “widespread poverty, unemployment, conflicts, political oppression and insecurity.”

The AU's Commissioner for Social Affairs, Bience Gawanas said the enactment of instruments such as the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the Ouagadougou Action Plan have served to galvanise member states, resulting in a virtual doubling of the number of states that have enacted anti-trafficking legislation between 2003 and 2008.

These instruments, she further said, have contributed to securing more convictions of traffickers and the rescue of an increasing number of victims and blamed the uncoordinated and slow criminal justice response system as well as the vulnerable economic environment and volatile political situations for the increasing number of trafficked persons. (the complete speech of Commissioner Gawanas is available on the AU website: www.africa-union.org)

In her speech, the UN Special Reporter on Trafficking in Persons, Joy Ezeilo warned that the current global economic crunch could ‘exacerbate the desperation and the quest for human security, survival and development that fuels the trafficking in persons.'

“Trafficking for exploitation is more likely to escalate particularly during this global economic crisis and increasing poverty caused by massive unemployment and the employer's tendency to use cheap labour in order to cut costs and maximize profits,” she told the participants.

In order to address this aspect, the UN official called for training for labour inspectors to enable them to appreciate the interface between migration and trafficking and to enhance the mechanism for the identification of trafficked persons in exploitative and mixed migration situations.

While taking measures to address the root causes, she said “innovative approaches” were needed to combat the huge problem of human trafficking through the synergy of international, regional and national strategies that will address all the dimensions of the scourge.

Furthermore, she urged AU Member States to urgently adopt national work plans, establish an agency or institution specifically with responsibility of coordinating action on human trafficking, and appoint a national reporter to oversee the progress and fast track data collection and ensure proper coordination of anti trafficking efforts. In order to address the cross border dimensions of the challenge and secure the welfare of the victims, she stressed the need to partner with other regions and regional institutions such as the League of Arab States and countries in the Middle East to protect and promote the well-being of trafficking victims.

In opening the workshop, Nigeria's solicitor general said the country had demonstrated its commitment to domesticate relevant international instruments against trafficking in persons by enacting a local legislation that was signed into law in 2003, making the country one of the few in the world with specific national legislations against the activities of human traffickers.

Specifically, he said the establishment of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters in August 2003 represents a “strong demonstration of the government's resolve to protect vulnerable citizens, especially women and children to secure the future of our youths.”

In January 2007, the African Union through its Executive Council Decision endorsed the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children. The decision called upon the Chairperson of the AU Commission in collaboration with IOM and other partners to advocate for the implementation of the Action Plan.

Moreover, it urged the Commission and the IOM to assist Member States with the development and implementation of sound migration policies aimed at addressing this scourge. Under the Ouagadougou plan, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission is required to file periodic reports on the status of implementation of the plan. In addition, it called on the international community to continue providing assistance towards the attainment of the objectives contained in the Ouagadougou Action Plan.

Source: African Union Commission (AUC)




A Girl from Nigeria



Whatever Peter Abel, a celebrated undercover reporter, has been through before, nothing prepares him for the murder of his friend and colleague by suspected women traffickers. Abel gets deeper into trouble with the heinous syndicate of international criminals when he tries to save an underage girl, Alice, who is about to be raped in Lagos. But soon Alice disappears leaving behind a devastated mother, and a violent father.Abel s search for Alice takes him through various human trafficking routes, to destinations including the United States and the United Kingdom. Abel is threatened, shot at and even framed for murder in the US, but he knows he will never find peace until he avenges his colleague s murder and saves Alice, even if it is from the laps of a US Congressman in Washington D.C.

About the Author
Bisi Daniels is the pen name of the prolific writer, Bisi Ojediran. A graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon, he is now the Chairman of the Editorial Board of THIS DAY newspaper. Prior to that, he was Business Editor of two of Nigeria's most influential newspapers, including The Guardian, before he started work in the oil industry. He joined Elf Petroleum as Media Relations Manager in 1995, moving on to Shell Petroleum, and has recently returned to journalism.Bisi has now written over twenty books, including eight novels.



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