At its second ordinary session in South Africa, the Pan African Parliament (PAP) dedicated a session day to the Theme of the Year 2019: “The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”. The theme day included presentations and debate on the situations of displacement in Africa and the 1969 Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Refugee Convention, the Kampala Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees. In addition, speakers presented and debated on Regional Perspectives (Regional Econonomic Communities) and Programmes on Refugees, Returnees, Internally Displaced Persons and Statelessness.
The topic of human trafficking was introduced by Prof Dr Mirjam van Reisen. Focusing on the situation in Libya, she called for urgent evacuation of victims of human trafficking from Libya to places where refugees would have access to protection. She called for genuine collaboration between the European Union (EU) and Africa to stop human trafficking and warned that the EU’s externalisation of borders into Africa was counterproductive. Furthermore, she drew attention to the way in which digital innovative technology causes disruption, and its perverse effect of facilitating new forms of human trafficking. She stated the need for regional and national legislation to ensure that digital innovative technology is not used for criminal activity, including modern-day slavery in which persons are sold for ransom, which is facilitated by digital technologies.
Prof Dr van Reisen finalised her speech with a plea for collaboration. “Slavery has never succeeded in reducing people to goods, and it never will. But it is an unspeakable crime and anyone of us, anywhere, can help in stopping it.”
Other topics discussed included the situation of refugees and stateless persons all over Africa. MP Hon. Reatile asked critical questions in relation to education and participation in the job market for stateless persons and refugees in Botswana, which can be found here.
During the meeting, the PAP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Refugee Organisation (UNHCR). The PAP will undertake fact-finding missions, including to Libya, in the coming months.
Click here to read the full presentation of Prof Dr Mirjam van Reisen: Presentation for Pan African Parliament – 13 May 2019
Watch the video of the response of Rt. Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, Vice-President of the Pan African Parliament, to the debate on Statelessness in relation to human trafficking.