Officers from Somali Police Force and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) pose for a group photo with senior officials during a sensitization workshop on Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling in Peace Support Operations. The workshop is held in Mogadishu on July 31, 2019. AMISOM Photo / Ilyas Ahmed
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today marked the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons with an event to raise awareness on promoting and protecting the rights of victims of trafficking. The symposium, held in collaboration with the Somali Police Force (SPF), was attended by over 100 AMISOM police and SPF officers. Acting AMISOM Police Commissioner, Rex Dundun, told participants that equipping law enforcement officers with knowledge was critical in the fight against trafficking in persons, which in some cases has led to vulnerable people being held in slavery or murdered. "If people do not have the background information, if communities and law enforcement agencies are not sensitized on how to tackle and combat the scourge, then definitely society will be at risk," Mr. Dundun said. Defined as the trade of women, men and children for the purposes of exploitation, Dundun said human trafficking had forced many people into becoming slaves, led to servitude and others to lose their lives.
Mohamed Mohamoud Garaar, the Deputy Director-in-Charge of Planning and Training in the SPF, said the trafficking of persons was a vice that needed to be tackled. "Admitting and acknowledging that the problem exists is the first step in finding a solution," Mr. Garaar noted and thanked AMISOM and other stakeholders for organizing the training, which he said was important and timely. Fridah Kibuko, who represented GIZ Better Migration Management, told the gathering that trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants is a transnational, cross-border crime which could be stopped by a multi-national effort involving governments and international stakeholders. "Stopping the issue of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants requires international cooperation. It cannot be dealt with by only one country. It is not an issue for Somalia only but is an issue all over the world," Ms. Kibuko explained.
The Chief Executive of Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART), Radoslaw Malinowski, noted that combating the vice of trafficking in persons--which he called modern day slavery--had severe detriments on the lives of victims, families and communities. "We call it modern slavery because it resembles the old traditional slavery. It has negative effects on victims, on individuals and it destroys people's lives," Mr. Malinowski said. Ms. Margaret Cheptile, who represented the International Peace Support Centre (IPSTC), reiterated her organization's commitment to imparting knowledge and skills to personnel serving in peace support operations such as AMISOM and urged the peacekeepers to become advocates and catalysts for change.
"Let us vow as individuals and organizations to protect the most vulnerable populations against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, including women and children. Let us also vow to be catalysts of change in the society by passing the knowledge we have gained to other people," Ms. Cheptile stated. In 2013, United Nations member states adopted a resolution that designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The day aims to "raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights". Armed conflict, displacement, climate change, natural disasters and poverty are often cited as as factors that enable trafficking to flourish. Smuggling of migrants involves the facilitation of illegal entry of a person into a state of which that person is not a national or resident, for financial or other material benefit. The symposium was organized with the support of GIZ, the British Council, CIVIPOL, IPSTC and HAART, among others.