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Regional Collaboration Strengthens Fight Against Human Trafficking and Smuggling in Southern Africa

Southern African Development Community (SADC) took a major step in the fight against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants by collaborating with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSAF) to organize a four-day meeting in Johannesburg. 

Spanning from December 4th to 7th, 2023, the event assembled focal persons from diverse countries within the region, all committed to tackling these pressing issues.

The objectives of the meeting were multifaceted, aiming to strengthen cooperation, foster professional relationships, enhance data collection, and provide a platform for sharing experiences in prosecuting TIP cases. The workshop also aimed to deepen the understanding of contemporary trends and the impact of trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, H.E Mr. John Jeffery, officially opened the workshop. In his address, he underscored the importance of data collection and shared experiences in the effective implementation of South Africa’s Trafficking in Persons Act. 

Deputy Minister Jeffery emphasized the severe impact of human trafficking on vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, during the ongoing 16-days of activism against violence towards them. He highlighted the legislative efforts of South Africa in prosecuting traffickers and supporting victims.

H.E Sandra Kramer, the Ambassador of the European Union in the Republic of South Africa, also addressed the delegates, reminding them of the EU’s Program aimed at addressing irregular migration, promoting labor mobility, and enhancing regional trade and investment. 

Ambassador Kramer stressed the importance of a coordinated response to migration-related challenges for the economic development of the region.

During the opening session, Dr. Jane Marie Ong’olo, UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa, and Ms. Thanyani Gumede, Senior Officer Police/SARPCCO from the SADC Secretariat, reiterated the need to strengthen cooperation, information sharing, and data collection to address the challenges of limited prosecutions and inadequate national and regional coordination in combating TIP and smuggling of migrants.

The meeting brought together focal persons from various sectors, including Police, Immigration, Prosecution Authorities, Statistical Agencies, and Gender Ministries within SADC Member States. 

The collaborative efforts showcased at the workshop reflect a renewed commitment to combatting human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, creating a more robust and united front against these transnational crimes in the Southern African region.

Source: SADC Secretariat

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