Abuja — From 21 – 25 July 2014, the EU-funded project "Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa)" supports ECOWAS with its Annual Review Meeting of the Member States' National Focal Points (NFPs) on Trafficking in Persons (TIP), taking place, at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.
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 Economic Community of West African States (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 project "Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa)" will be supporting ECOWAS with its Annual Review Meeting of the Member States' National Focal Points (NFPs) on Trafficking in Persons (TIP), taking place from 21 – 23 July 2014, at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting will be followed by an additional training session for the National TIP focal points from 24 – 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.
Opening Remarks by Emmerentia Erasmus, Project Manager
Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be here with you today for the opening ceremony of the 2014 ECOWAS Annual Review Meeting on Trafficking in Persons.
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. And West Africa is clearly no exception. Taking cognizance of the damaging effects of human trafficking in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has made combating trafficking in persons a priority. Indeed, to combat this menace, ECOWAS has adopted several regional plans, standards and guidelines, including the successive regional Plans of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Regional Policy on Protection and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking.
Along the same vein, the project "Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa" - FMM West Africa for short - recognizes the need for all stakeholders to join forces to deal with this crime. This is why as part of FMM West Africa, with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development - ICMPD - taking the lead, we are supporting the ECOWAS Annual Review Meeting throughout this four-year project.
We will be working with ECOWAS on developing, adopting, promoting and implementing the new Plan of Action. And for these three days, we are actively participating in enhancing the planning, coordination, monitoring and reporting on this Meeting. We hope that the ECOWAS Member States will continue to appropriate and use the existing regional policy framework and contribute to the development of further regional policies and guidelines for combating Trafficking in Persons in West Africa.
On Thursday and Friday of this week, FMM West Africa will organise an additional training session for the TIP National Focal Points, on the heels of this Annual Review Meeting. The training session has been designed based on the results of the Baseline Assessment of the Capacity of the National Focal Points and the ECOWAS TIP Unit for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, to which many of you offered your valuable contribution. This Assessment is available here in print form in the three ECOWAS languages, so please feel free to take a copy!
In conducting this assessment, within the framework of the FMM West Africa project, ICMPD seeks to provide training modules on some of the topics identified as the most significant priorities for participants. We also hope to contribute to further strengthening the network of TIP NFPs and enhancing your functions within your respective Member States. This will help to spread the ECOWAS principles on anti–trafficking through the region, as well as enhancing your capacities, and those of the ECOWAS TIP Unit, to prevent trafficking, protect victims, prosecute offenders and work in partnership, within a context of safe mobility.
I would like to conclude by thanking all of our counterparts here today for the support accorded to FMM West Africa. I would like to express my appreciation to the ECOWAS Commission, and the valuable efforts of: the ECOWAS Commission President - Mr. Kadre Ouedraogo; Commissioner for Gender and Social Affairs - Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow; Director of Humanitarian Affairs - Dr. Daniel Eklu, and the Regional Adviser on Trafficking in Persons - Mr. Olatunde Olayemi, for making this Annual Review Meeting possible.
I am also very pleased to acknowledge the presence of government officials from the ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, who have taken the time and effort to be part of this laudable process.
Finally, I would like to appreciate the European Union for funding this project, as well as our project partners, IOM and ILO; consortium partners in this project, FMM West Africa.
I wish you all a successful, interesting, and above all effective week of work on this very important issue of trafficking in persons in West Africa. Thank you, merci, obrigada!
Information Note on FMM West Africa Project
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.