The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons recently concluded an agreement which will see UNODC implement a new four-year, USD 1.5 million law enforcement project on countering trafficking in persons (TIP) in Ethiopia.
The aim of the new project on Enhancing Effective and Victim-Centered Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons in Ethiopia, is two-fold: First, to strengthen and enhance the protection of victims of TIP as witnesses, and secondly, to enhance specialized law enforcement responses to detect, investigate and prevent TIP, especially trafficking of children.
Every year, thousands of men, women, and children are exploited and trafficked. Trafficking in Persons is a serious crime, a grave violation of human rights, and is affecting every region in the world. This is no different in Ethiopia where domestic and foreign victims are exposed to labour and sexual exploitation, and victims from Ethiopia are being exploited abroad. In recent years, with Eastern Africa becoming a hub for new trafficking routes, UNODC has been emphasizing that to effectively counter TIP, strengthening of regional cooperation among member states, as well as enhancing national legislation criminal justice capacity, is vital.
As guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementary Protocols, in particular, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, UNODC has been assisting Ethiopia to enhance its legislation in compliance with the UNTOC and Protocol. UNODC has also previously provided capacity building assistance to the Federal Police Commission, and Office of the Attorney General.
Starting 1 July 2020, UNODC will be supporting the Office of the Attorney General and Federal Police Commission to respectively strengthen the capacity of the Witness Protection Directorate (WPD) to effectively assist and protect victims of TIP as witnesses, and to enhance the Specialised Crime Investigation Unit, including its Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) Unit and TIP Department, at both federal and regional level. Activities will include embedded expert mentoring, specialised training and the procurement of specialised equipment and software to support witness protection and investigations.
The new law enforcement project will be implemented as part of the UNODC regional Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Programme for Eastern Africa, within the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for Eastern Africa (2016-2021) and UNODC Ethiopia National Plan of Action (2019-2021).