Trends in Human Trafficking – Issue no. 2, July 2019 – EEPA News Highlights

The EEPA team is pleased to present you with the July 2019 issue of the newsletter on Trends in Human Trafficking between the Horn of Africa and Europe. Please feel free to forward this information to others or invite them to subscribe via this link. If you have information to contribute, do not hesitate to contact us.

 Research & Reports:

New report on human trafficking in persons is published
The U.S. Department of State has published 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report which encompasses global developments on human trafficking and smuggling.  The report categorizes countries into tiers based on their compliance with regulations outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. Each country narrative includes a summary of the government’s involvement in addressing issues of human trafficking, current legislation, overview and examples of human trafficking practices. They conclude with recommendations. The document reports on various forms of trafficking, including sex trafficking, labour trafficking as well as the increasing practice of human trafficking for ransom in countries such as Eritrea, Libya, and South Sudan.

UNHCR calls for strengthening protection of refugees on Central and Western Mediterranean routes
In its Global Appeal Report, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called for US$ 210 million to assist and protect refugees who are migrating through North and Sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom are victims of human trafficking and smuggling. The UNHCR’s Appeal reports on the particular vulnerability of refugees travelling through Mediterranean Sea who are increasingly exposed to the networks of traffickers and their dangerous practices in Libya, including physical abuse, extortion, and torture. In the target activities for 2019-2020, UNHCR will engage in support of victims who fall prey to human traffickers and smugglers, and will counter trafficking networks.

Report on importance of law in combating all forms of modern slavery including human trafficking
The Freedom Fund, an international organization, highlights the potential of effective legislation to fight against all forms of modern slavery including crimes of human trafficking in person. Publishing a report entitled Pathways to Justice the Freedom Fund states that in order to improve the response to these illicit activities, it is crucial to empower vulnerable populations and marginalized communities through the legal instruments. Furthermore, both governments, through comprehensive legislation, and civil society, through voicing the needs of victims, play important roles in combating human trafficking.

 Media articles:

Human Trafficking and smuggling in Libya continues to affect many refugees
Amid ongoing conflict in Libya, many refugees continue to be held in closed warehouses by human traffickers where they are exposed to mistreatment, beating, torture and rape. Africa News reported on the experience of Somali refugees who were held captive by traffickers for several months in southern Libya. After paying ransom of about US$1,445 for their release, they were abducted again by a network of smugglers, says the article. As EU has tighten its border controls, boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea are regularly returned to Libya. Only some of the most vulnerable refugees were evacuated to safety in Niger by UNHCR.

Human trafficker benefits from financial support provided to the Libyan Coast Guard
The Italian newspaper Avvenire reported that Abd al-Rahman al-Milad, also identified as al-Bija, directs the Libyan coast guard-team and continues to operate under the Government of National Accord (GNA), preventing refugees from crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Accused of human rights abuses by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and sanctioned by the UN, al-Bija and his militias control migrant traffic and benefit from financial support that the EU and Italy provide for the Libyan Coast Guard. Al-Bija who has been linked with the networks of human trafficking is accused of “violence against migrants and other human smugglers”.

Eritrean refugee is being prosecuted for crimes of human trafficking
On 17 June 2019 Italian prosecutors submitted a broad document to the court in which they accused Medhanie Yehdego Mered, an Eritrean refugee, of committing crimes of human trafficking and smuggling. The defendant has presented evidence indicating that the real name of the man accused is Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe and that there is a DNA test and several witnesses, including family of alleged trafficker testifying in favour of the story of the accused. The accused man claims that he is refugee from Eritrea who was residing in Sudan when he was seized by international police in a café in Khartoum.

Europol launches a new task force to combat human trafficking
On 2 July, the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), which is run by Europol, launched a new task force to coordinate actions against the most dangerous networks involved in human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Robert Crepinko, head of the EMSC said for Reuters that “criminal gangs are also becoming more violent towards migrants as they seek to maximise profits.” The new task force will address new ways of trafficking and smuggling through improved cooperation and information-sharing between the EU member states.