Human TraffickingNews

UNODC Enhancing Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons in Eastern Africa

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) within the framework of the Regional Programme for Eastern Africa (2016-2021) is implementing the Enhancing Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons in Eastern Africa project funded by the U.S. State Department – Trafficking in Persons Office.

Every year, thousands of men, women, and children are exploited and trafficked to, from and across the Eastern Africa region. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a serious crime, a grave violation of human rights, and is a thread to human security and sustainable development. Eastern Africa has in recent years become a new hub for trafficking routes, and with criminal groups and illicit traffickers operating across borders, strengthening national legislation and capacity as well as enhancing regional and international cooperation is critical to prevent and counter TIP.

The UNODC Enhancing Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons in Eastern Africa project supports 13 Member States from the region, namely Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda to enhance effective and victim-centered criminal justice responses to TIP aligned with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementary Protocols (UNTOC), in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

UNODC focuses extensively on supporting Member States in the region to align their national legislation on TIP with the provisions of the Convention and Protocols; enhancing the capacity of criminal justice practitioners to effectively investigate and prosecute TIP cases with a victim-centered and human rights-based approach; and to foster enhanced regional and international cooperation between all relevant stakeholders.

The latest Member State to accede the TIP Protocol was the Union of the Comoros in 2020.

Achievements from 2021 include launching the UNODC Regional Legislative Assessment on Trafficking in Persons and in Eastern Africa (2021). The assessment analyzes national anti-TIP legislation in 13 Eastern Africa Member States, identifies gaps and issues, and provides recommendations for Member States to consider for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of TIP cases. Regional coordination and cooperation on TIP cases was identified by Member States as a key challenge which hinders an adequate and targeted response to deter TIP. Accordingly, there was consensus on the need for the development of a Regional Plan of Action, a regional platform and mechanism whereby Member States can gather to discuss challenges, share intelligence and best practices in the detection, investigation and prosecution of TIP cases.

UNODC also supported the implementation of Kenya’s obligations under UNTOC and its Supplementary TIP Protocol, leading to the Counter Trafficking in Persons Secretariat and the Advisory Committee officially launching the process of amending the national anti-TIP legislation, the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act (2010). UNODC, in cooperation with the Counter Trafficking in Persons Secretariat, facilitated a legislative drafting workshop for members of the Technical Working Group, tasked to amend the national anti-TIP legislation, and provided legal advice to strengthen the legislative framework. A zero draft is available, and the legislation is expected to pass in 2022.