SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

10th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime

Event start: 2020-10-12 Event start: 2020-10-16

From 12 to 16 October 2020, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was hosting the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. This year’s conference was hosted online, which allow SIHMA’s to assist to a few of the side events on issues regarding migration.

Programme of the virtual side events: 

Prevention of Involuntary Migration through Quality Education and Empowerment of Women and Young People – organised by Women’s Federation for World Peace International

This event mainly focused on Mali as an example of the more and more young and feminized migration and was introduced by Oumon Sall-Seck, Ambassador to the Republic of Mali. Speakers such as Mamadou Kone (Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Mali in Austria) identified the lack of education and job opportunities as the main drivers of migration from Mali. The event also gave the floor to Malian activists and NGOs’ actors who shared their concerns about the bad management of programs targets at women, the illegality of migration in and out of Mali, and the climate crisis which impacts agriculture production. Christophe Dupont-Baggio, researcher at FH Burgenland, presented the European Union approach to migration which actually includes three approaches: a security approach (with FRONTEX), a financial approach (co-development) and an integration approach (resettlement). The main problems faced by the different actors are the lack of knowledge, understanding and cohesion between partners. 

Fostering Public-private Partnership for Countering Trafficking in Persons – organised by UNODC Civil Society Team

This event was introduced by Jean-Luc Lamahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at the UNODC. He recalled important information about human trafficking, such as others that trafficked victims are mainly women and girls (60%) for sexual exploitation. He warned that we need to do a lot more to combat human trafficking, especially since Covid-19 aggravated the situation. Human trafficking is against essential human rights, such as the right to live, the right to freedom, the right to not being enslaved, and the right to health. Mr. Lamahieu also reminded us of the 4Ps as set out in the Trafficking Protocol: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. The different speakers then outlined the benefits of Public-Private Partnership Projects (PPP Projects) as they enable each side to benefit from the others’ experience. Actors of the private sector, including in the supply chain, financial institutions, and tech companies, have the effectiveness, specialisation and expertise of their business model from which public organisation can learn from and work with. 

Non punishment of victims of trafficking – organised by UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, with the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT)

John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs at the UNODC, introduced the event on the non punishment principle set out in the Trafficking Protocol to avoid the penalisation of victims. He deplores that despite new international and national guidelines, the implementation is still very inconsistent. Siobhan Mullaly (Established Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Right at NUI Gallway) followed by explaining how the implementation of the non punishment principle depends on the early identification of victims, non-discrimination and the elimination of prejudices of who is a victim, the absence of financial constraints for victims, and the possibility of undoing prosecution mistakes. She pointed out that at the moment there is no test to establish the victims status of children and particularly adolescent boys over 14 years old involved in drug trafficking as a result of their victimhood. Pam Bowen from the Crown Prosecution Service gave the example of the United Kingdom. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the trafficking activities in the UK have moved online, forced labour has increased particularly in the shellfish picking industry, and the courts have closed resulting in backlog. Other speakers talked about the problems of the criminalization of victims because of crimes that trafficked victims may have committed as a result of being trafficked, such as sex work and gun possession. It is difficult to draw a line between victimhood and criminality: as traffickers know that victims used as traffickers would not be criminalized in the same way, victims may be forced to work as traffickers of other victims. Kalliopi Mingeirou (Chief of Ending Violence against Women and Girls Section at UN Women) called for a victim-centred and gender-sensitive approach, drawing from the observation that although traffickers are in majority male, a lot of the persons convicted are women who are at the bottom of the traffickers’ chain.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on Trafficking: 

ICAT Issue Brief – Non-punishment of victims of trafficking:


Human smuggling and trafficking in Africa: creating a criminal economy in Africa, by the Institute for Security Studies (with INTERPOL-ENACT and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC))

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) organised a dynamic presentation hosted by Ottilia Ana Maunganidze, Head of Special Projects at ISS. After a reminder of the difference between smuggling and trafficking – the later being criminalized – Sabelo Mbokazi (African Union) talked about AU whole-of-Africa initiative with their 10 years plan focusing on ending child labour, exploitation and modern slavery. As the testimony of a Nigerian man arrested for smuggling exemplified, smuggling is seen as a service in many regions. The problems with the current response, as explained by Lucia Bird (Senior Analyst, Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime), are that the securitization of borders increases organised crime and that the wrong people are targeted as too often states do not distinguish between smuggling and aggravated smuggling and trafficking. John Patrick Broome (Regional Crime Analyst for East Africa at INTERPOL) identified another challenge to law enforcement which is technical expertise as the development of mobile money operators benefits the illicit market and facilitates the movement of money from one form of criminality to another. Lucia Bird added that it is key to recognise the benefit of migration to economy. There should be no punishment for migrants using smugglers and the quality of arrest should be privileged over its quantity.




Nolwenn Marconnet


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