Trends in Human Trafficking – Issue no. 7, February 2020 – EEPA News Highlights

Dear readers,

The EEPA team is pleased to present the February 2020 issue of the newsletter on Trends in Human Trafficking between the Greater 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 publication critically looks at traditional narratives about facilitators of migration in Libya
Working paper by Gabriela Sanchez, researcher at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, analyses dynamics of smuggling of migrants in Libya in the post-Gaddafi era. The author challenges the narratives of studies which primarily link facilitation of migration to Libyan tribes and militia groups. Based on the fieldwork outcomes, Sanchez claims that facilitators are often “ordinary people, living [in] cross border regions, along migration pathways and coastal towns, and who generated an income by performing specific tasks or roles conducive of migrants’ journeys”. Facilitation of migration is not only limited to transportation from one location to another but it proved “to be an income generating strategy for vastly disenfranchised and impoverished communities and their members”.

Publication explores specific aspects bolstering human trafficking in Africa
Paul O. Bello and Adewale A. Olutola look at dynamics of human trafficking and its specific elements in an African context. The chapter gives an overview of various characteristics of human trafficking in different parts of Africa and sheds light on close link between globalization and trafficking. Authors further argue that in the African context specific ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors are at play, such as poverty, political instability, corruption, economic opportunities, demand for cheap and low-skilled labour, and weak border control. These elements challenge initiatives aiming to curb human trafficking.

Challenges of law enforcement in human trafficking despite anti-trafficking activities
In a paper on human trafficking, author Ronald Weitzer highlights that many countries worldwide have been keen to adopt laws which criminalise human trafficking and that the international community, including governments and NGOs, sponsor a variety of projects to combat human trafficking and modern slavery. Millions of dollars have been allocated to these efforts. Weitzer writes that despite growing initiatives of law enforcement, it is difficult to collect testimonies and witnesses especially when perpetrators are linked to police, military or governments. He further describes the challenge of tracking and documenting victims of human trafficking. Even known sources and databases show that “the number of officially-identified victims is but a tiny fraction of the alleged millions of undetected victims worldwide”.

 Migration in the Horn of Africa is marked by human smuggling and trafficking
A new publication brings a comprehensive literature review zooming in on migration in the Horn of Africa. Thematic parts of the report cover the nexus between instability and migration, mobility patterns and structures, financial flows and remittances, as well as key policies and programmes. The author looks at the aspect of human smuggling and trafficking as an inherent part of migration in the region. “[N]etworks from the Horn of Africa are vibrant and organised, and involve government officials either directly or indirectly, as their cooperation is needed for smuggling to continue”. Migrants and refugees are at high risk to be abused by smugglers and traffickers on route.

 Report calls on Sudan to revise existing anti-trafficking laws
In its new report, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies calls for the transitional government of Sudan to amend anti-human trafficking laws and action plans as these instruments did not help Sudan to make any measurable progress in combating trafficking of people. Migrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa are often victims of human trafficking networks, being used for prostitution, work exploitation, as well as recruitment as combatants. The report calls on officials to “[e]nsure victims are not punished by the authorities for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking”.

Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency faces challenges to implement policies
The Nigerian government introduced a National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons to combat human trafficking activities through the implementation of policies. This Agency also cooperates with governments of other countries in order to address cross-border trafficking. A new publication analyses barriers such as corruption, lack of funding, and limited assistance services that mitigate effective implementation of policies on the ground. The author further calls for a new approach in bureaucratic and political leadership for the Agency officers to carry out “their duties diligently and deliver on their mandate”.

Media articles:

The Council of Europe holds joint session on human trafficking and protection of migrant children
On 30 January, the Assembly of the Council of Europe discussed situation of human trafficking in Europe as well as disappearances of children of migrants and refugees. Through its adopted resolutions, the Council stated that victims of human trafficking face “prostitution, forced labour, organ trafficking, forced marriage or illegal adoption” and that migrant and refugee children are victims of many forms of violence that “lead to their disappearance”. The Council further recommends to uphold the best interest of children through information exchange among states and also to create a specific plan for unaccompanied children fleeing persecution, war and violence.

Victims of human trafficking rescued by police and INTERPOL in Niger
In February, 232 victims of human trafficking have been rescued by Nigerien police supported by INTERPOL out of which 46 rescued people were under age of 18. The traffickers abused their victims for work and sexual exploitation. Many of the abused people were migrants from other African countries who were promised ‘decent work’ in Niger. However they were detained by traffickers upon their arrival. Police arrested 18 perpetrators charging them with crimes of human trafficking and child exploitation.

Italy blamed for returning of migrants to Libya despite them being trafficked
Italy has been accused of being complicit with abuses of migrants and refugees when they are returned to Libya, reports VOA news. People continue to be seized by human traffickers upon their return from the Mediterranean Sea and are demanded money for their release. Captivity is accompanied by beatings, abuse and torture practices, mainly in cases when refugees and migrants do not immediately have money to pay ransom.