In October 2016, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) enacted a law seeking to compel its five member states to take stern action against involved in human trafficking.
It is on this backdrop that the East African Community (EAC) and INTERPOL are holding a seven-day joint training workshop on Countering Human and Drug Trafficking in the region, in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
A statement from the secretariat states that the main purpose of the training is to increase knowledge of investigators involved in curbing the two Transnational Organised Crimes (TNOCs) in the region.
The training also seeks to share experiences on policy and best practices in Partner States on control of Human and Drug trafficking and contribute towards enhancing efficiency of investigators through documenting the changing dynamics in drug and human trafficking in the region. Trainees will then identify constraints to the implementation of Anti-Drug/Narcotics and Human Trafficking control measures and draw practical strategies on the way forward. The EAC Secretariat has received funding through the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) Support Programme, to undertake this training.
“Several factors have been identified as hindrances to the effective implementation of Anti-Drug and Human Trafficking control measures, namely weak border security, corruption, weak laws and criminal justice systems to address such crimes, limited resources, limited anti-trafficking experience, as well as limited inter-agency cooperation, among others.” Treads the statement in part.
The workshop which began on the 23rd and runs through to the 28th of April, 2018 training has been convened in an effort to respond to several identified investigative gaps and challenges within the two transnational crime areas for purposes of convergence and harmonization of practices through training.
According to the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr Charles Njoroge, the EAC is determined to develop strategies that will better facilitate efforts towards countering the two crimes taking into full consideration the changes in the dynamics of the crimes, reflecting a gender dimension in the region and the African continent as a whole.
“Today more women from the region are trafficked than men. Drug barons have also targeted unsuspecting women to be carriers and transporters of narcotic drugs. In some cases, the two crimes are committed jointly and concurrently, whereby the very women transporting narcotic drugs are at the same time being trafficked,” said Mr Njoroge.
In addition to the two crimes, the EAC is investing in addressing Terrorism, which has continued to affect the region. To this end, the EAC has established the Inter-religious Council, composed of representatives from different Faiths, whose mandate is to address the radicalization of youth in the region and their eventual recruitment into Transnational Crime Organizations operating within the region and beyond.
It is also anticipated that the efforts to address TNOCs will also result in the mitigation an emerging threat in the EAC region – trafficking of illicit goods such as alcoholic beverages, foods and pharmaceuticals. These crimes include the production of the counterfeit products (counterfeiting) in the region, the sale of expired goods as well as the smuggling and use of the region as a transit corridor for such goods.