The African Union Commission (AUC) has moved to build a strong response to the growing trend of trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants both at continental, regional, and national levels in Africa.
The AUC which expressed worry over the trend has moved to validate draft policies on Trafficking In Persons (TIP) and smuggling of migrants.
At a three days meeting which held between October 7 – 10, in Zanzibar, senior government officials from Africa Union member states, as well as Trade Unions and Civil Society organizations experts discussed the two policies and made specific inputs.
The validated documents will therefore be tabled for adoption at the Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (MR&IDPS-STC) coming up in November.
The STC meeting will bring together AU Member State Ministers and Experts in-Charge of Migration, Labour, Free Movement, Refugees, and Forced Displacement Matters.
The draft Policies which highlighted the challenges of Trafficking in Persons and the smuggling of migrants also proffered solutions as well as recommendations with the hope that member states will adopt and domesticate them.
One of the recommendations includes encouraging member states and RECs to develop an effective follow-up, reporting review mechanism of the policies at national, regional, and continental levels.
This will ensure identification of any challenges in the implementation process, provide necessary learning opportunities and enhance the participation of all relevant stakeholders in the implementation process.
Explaining the justification of the Policy Document on TIP, the drafters of the draft policy said between 2016 and 2018, the African Union Commission evaluated the MPFA (2006) and the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, especially Women and Children (2006) respectively.
The evaluations identified policy and operational gaps in terms of continental and regional responses to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants on the continent, including the lack of a continental policy or legal document (s) and a clear plan of action to address these crimes.
It said the new policy document borrowed lessons learned from the Ouagadougou Plan of Action; based on the principles of the 4Ps embedded in the Plan of Action, that is prevention, prosecution, protection, and partnership
Speaking during the closing ceremony,
Mr. Christopher Permanent Secretary Tanzania expressed confidence that the two policies will positively influence practices and policy development, formulation, and implementation to effectively combat Trafficking in Persons and the smuggling of migrants in Africa.
He commended the delegates and experts for their dedication to travel to Zanzibar, despite the threat of COVID-19 and its risk, adding that it is a clear testimony of their commitment to enhancing migration governance in the continent
He said, “I regard this meeting to be so important as it will positively influence our practices and policy development, formulation and implementation to effectively combat Trafficking and smuggling of migrants in the continent
“The objective of this technical workshop was among other things to seek the technical input to improve the draft policy documents on the prevention of Trafficking in Persons and smuggling of migrants in Africa and eventually validate them.
“This has resulted in coming up with the revised draft policy document that accommodates not only the interest of the African Union member states but also global best practices in combating the two international crimes.”
He urged the senior officials at the meeting to brief their ministers from their respective countries who will be attending the STC on the recommended strategies and actions on the validated documents
“I have been informed that the validated documents will be tabled for adoption in the Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (MR&IDPS-STC) coming up in November
He expressed joy that the meeting has agreed on clear follow-up review and reporting including the proposed work plan mechanism
Also speaking, Sabelo Mbokazi, the head of the division, Labour Employment & Migration – Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development at the Africa Union, expressed sadness that Africans have been falling prey to illegal networks of traffickers
He said, “there are reports of many vulnerable young African and citizens being trafficked, sometimes on very dangerous migration routes for various reasons.
“From our deliberations, these illicit activities are still ongoing and they are on the increase. We can only come together and strategies to help us deal with existing gaps by coming up with strong policy frameworks to guide member states to combat this vice with best international practices.”
Speaking on this policy and the AU’s engagement in confronting human trafficking, the Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC-Africa, comrade Akhator Joel Odigie lauded the AU for this move and affirmed Africa’s trade unions’ support.
He summed that over the years, human traffickers have devised sophisticated and brutal means to further their operations.
He said, “There is a need to sustain and deepen education and awareness targeted at the public, collaboration amongst state agencies, and development agencies. We urge the AU Member States to support the adoption, domestication, and application of this policy as a useful complement to national efforts.”