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Human trafficking knows no border, regional and international cooperation is imperative against it

DAKAR (7 October 2010) – For the first time, anti-trafficking experts from regional and sub-regional organisations convened in Dakar on 4 and 5 October at the initiative of the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, to discuss how they can innovatively and effectively work together and with the UN system, build synergies and enhance information-sharing in order to fight this phenomenon.

“Effective coordination of the various anti-trafficking initiatives and enhanced cooperation among all actors involved in combating trafficking is essential to maximise available resources, minimise duplication and address States’ fatigue vis à vis the number of demands they are required to attend to,” said the UN expert who led the meeting.

Experts from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East discussed issues related to prevention of trafficking, protection of trafficked victims, and institutional and normative frameworks established to address trafficking in all regions.

“Assistance to and protection of victims must be non-conditional, responsive to the needs, and respectful of the human rights of trafficked victims. Regional and sub-regional organisations must therefore ensure that their normative frameworks, policies and practices integrate human rights, are appropriate to the age of the victims and sensitive to gender aspects,” Ms. Ezeilo emphasised.

“Regional mechanisms are in a unique position to combat trafficking in a way that respect and promote human rights, not least because of their expertise and knowledge of local realities,” the UN Special Rapporteur said. “I look forward to continuing to engage with these experts and their respective organisations in order to strengthen the effectiveness of our collective quest to end human trafficking – a modern day slavery, growing in scale and in terms of human rights repercussions.”

The meeting, organized as a follow-up to Ms. Ezeilo’s report* to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010 on anti-trafficking efforts undertaken by regional and sub-regional mechanisms, allowed for an in-depth and forward-looking discussion around its recommendations.

The Special Rapporteur reiterated her gratitude to the Government of Senegal and the West Africa Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for their support in making this meeting possible.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo assumed her functions as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children on 1 August 2008. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has also served in various governmental capacities, including as Honourable Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development in Enugu State and as a Delegate to the National Political Reform Conference. She has consulted for various international organizations and is also involved in several NGOs, particularly working on women’s rights. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law.

(*): Check the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.32.pdf

Learn more about the mandate and activities of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/trafficking/index.htm