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Officials in ECOWAS member states receive training to fight trafficking in persons

Jul 23, 2014, 9:53 AM

The Annual Review Meeting of the ECOWAS member states’ national focal points (NFPs) on trafficking in persons (TIP) is taking place at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, from 21 to 25 July 2014.

In the Gambia, the national focal point is the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons, NAATIP-The Gambia, which is under the Ministry of Justice in Banjul.

The “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa)” project is EU-funded for the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

Forced labour and sexual exploitation are forms of trafficking in persons that violate the human rights of children and adults in all regions of the world. Unfortunately, West Africa is no exception. Nevertheless, certain sub-categories of trafficking are specific to the region, such as the trafficking of children for exploitation in begging, particularly – though not only - involving boys boarding at Koranic schools (talibés). What is also problematic is the trafficking of girls as “house help” for domestic servitude with well-to-do families.

Child domestic work scenarios range from more innocuous informal fostering systems where the girls’ rights are largely respected, to situations of trafficking that include domestic servitude, worst forms of child labour and even sexual exploitation. While there is much expertise among the authorities in the region, certain gaps have been identified in terms of combating these specific forms of trafficking and labour trafficking of adults, as well as the need for general knowledge on migration trends and policies.

Combating trafficking in persons is a priority for the ECOWAS Commission and it has adopted several regional standards and guidelines in this regard, including the Regional Policy on Protection and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking and Guidelines on Protection, Support and Assistance to Witnesses.

Building upon these initiatives, the EU-funded FMM West Africa project’s national TIP focal points meeting will be followed by an additional training session for the national TIP focal points from 24 to 25 July, 2014 at the Commission.

This training session forms part of the FMM West Africa project, with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) leading this activity.

FMM West Africa’s support to ECOWAS in the area of trafficking in persons includes the development, adoption, promotion and implementation of its new plan of action, and strengthening the annual ECOWAS review meetings on counter-trafficking by reinforcing related planning, coordination, monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

Specific attention will also be given to the appropriation and use by ECOWAS member states of the existing regional policy framework and the development of further regional policies and guidelines for combating trafficking in persons in West Africa.

Latest trends in trafficking in the region will be discussed at the meeting, while the training session will also cover designing, implementing and evaluating national action plans against trafficking, to ensure that effective measures to combat and prevent this crime, and to protect its victims, continue to be implemented in West Africa.

The FMM West Africa project is funded by the European Union (EU), and has a 26-million-euro budget and a five-year timeline. The project is driven by the ECOWAS Commission and implemented jointly by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). More information on the project is available on the FMM West Africa website.