Tuesday, June 30, 2009

African Union starts campaign against human trafficking


16 June 2009 - Nearly 130, 000 people in sub-Saharan countries, and 230,000 in the Middle East and Northern Africa are in forced labour, including sexual exploitation, as a result of human trafficking. These International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates paint a grim picture of human trafficking in Africa. A greater number of trafficking victims of African origin are found within the continent, while a sizeable proportion constitutes victims who are transported to Western Europe and other parts of the world, according to a recent UN.GIFT report on global trafficking in persons.

The African Union has chosen the Day of the African Child, celebrated today [June 16], to launch AU.COMMIT, an initiative to fight human trafficking in Africa. This campaign seeks to put the fight against trafficking in persons as a priority on the development agenda of the continent. It also calls on African States to build on The Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, which guides AU Member States in developing and reforming their policies and laws on trafficking in persons.

Many African countries still do not have legislation on human trafficking, or they have laws that criminalize only some aspects of human trafficking (such as child trafficking).

"Such a campaign is badly needed" says UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "The evidence available tells a woeful tale of how many regions of Africa are highly vulnerable to trafficking. Shockingly, in West and Central Africa, most of the perpetrators are women. Across the continent, many of the victims are children," he adds.

UNODC as the guardian of the world's anti-human trafficking instrument, innovator of the Global Initiative to fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), and provider of technical assistance, supports the African Union initiative. UNODC also collaborates with the African Union under the framework of the implementation of the AU Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

From the African Union:

I. Introduction to AU.COMMIT Campaign

Recently, the fight against trafficking in human beings has gained more prominent place in the international and regional forums pertaining to global governance. This is particularly true with regard to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) programme and the Blue Heart Campaign. In addition, the recent Sixth African Development Forum, jointly organized by the UN-Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, and the African Union calls for the popularization and implementation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings Especially Women and Children (the Ouagadougou Action Plan). Similarly,the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership (Lisbon Action Plan) particularly the Africa-EU Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment calls for more action to combat trafficking in persons.

II. Justification

The Department of Social Affairs (DSA) of the African Union Commission (AUC) in its 2009-2012 Strategic Plan and 2008 Programme of Activities has provided several initiatives with regard to the popularization and implementation of the AU policies on migration and development, one of which is the Ouagadougou Action Plan.The AU Commission Initiative against Trafficking (AU.COMMIT) Campaign is one of the major Programme of Activities of DSA on Migration and Development for 2009-2012.

At the centre of the AU.COMMIT Campaign is the implementation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan. The Ouagadougou Action Plan urges Member States and RECs to utilize the same action plan as a reference to develop and reform their policies and laws on trafficking in persons. It also requests the AUC in consultation with the International Organization for Migration and other relevant partners, to assist Member States and RECs with its implementation and development of a follow-up mechanism. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission is also to report periodically on the implementation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan. It further calls the International Community to continue providing assistance towards the attainment of the objectives contained in the Ouagadougou Action Plan.

This concept paper provides the major components of the launch of the AU.COMMIT Campaign.

The official launch of the AU.COMMIT Campaign is to be conducted in a such a way that the messages could be heard louder than before, while raising awareness of the AU’s continued commitment towards tackling the problem of trafficking in human beings in a more strategic and programmatic manner. The launch will thus serve to communicate the overall objectives and messages of the AU. COMMIT Campaign through media and press coverage.
The AU Commission believes that through the launch of the AU.COMMIT Campaign on prevention of trafficking, protection of victims of trafficking and prosecution of traffickers, it will be able to contribute its share to the global fight against trafficking in persons.

For the general and specific objectives, participants, expected outcomes, format and activities of launch, as well as a list of working and background documents, please click here.

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