Globally, the number of detected trafficking victims has tripled in the past 15 years, according to the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020. In 2018 about 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries. However, given the hidden nature of this crime, the actual number of victims trafficked is far higher. Traffickers particularly target the most vulnerable and the COVID-19-induced recession is likely to expose more people to the risk of trafficking. This puts additional pressure on criminal justice systems to prevent, investigate and prosecute TIP crimes.
As part of Algeria´s efforts to address human trafficking, UNODC and the National TIP Committee organized a national workshop on the prosecution and adjudication of human trafficking cases for 40 senior magistrates from across the country (Algiers, Annaba, Tlemcen, Tamanrasset, Bechar, Ourgla, Constantine, Oran and Tebessa) from 17 to 20 May 2021. The workshop also gathered experts from Belgium, Italy, Mali, Niger, Tunisia, the United States of America, and Interpol to foster the exchange of national experiences and facilitate concrete discussions on main challenges and lessons learned from national experiences in prosecuting TIP crimes. The magistrates present at the workshop were exposed to the relevant international and national legal frameworks, the importance of coordinating between investigation and prosecution, and to the need to provide protection and assistance to victims throughout criminal proceedings, amongst other topics. So as to provide a practical approach to the application of the knowledge gained, two entire sessions to simulate a trial were organized based on a fictional but realistic scenario.
The opening ceremony was also the occasion for Algeria, international and national partners to express their strong commitment to work jointly against TIP and increase efforts through partnership. The president of the Algerian TIP Committee, H.E. Elhadj Lamine, stressed that his country is “working on a comprehensive law to face this crime” in addition to “multiplying efforts to strengthen the criminal justice system and protection and assistance mechanisms for victims” as part of an overall victim-centered approach. Representing the Ministry of Justice, Dr. Lofti Boudjemaa, Head of the Criminal Justice Directorate outlined the importance to take into consideration the “new forms and modalities of the crime, request dynamic and updated responses.”
The training is an example of the steps Algerian partners are taking to provide a victim-centered criminal justice response that provides proper treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of the victims as well as restitution of rights. At the same time as the training took place, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) opened its 30th session in Vienna. The session focussed on protecting the most vulnerable through the provision of comprehensive criminal justice responses, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate immediate and long-term crime risks.