Somaliland: New tools for combating human smuggling and trafficking

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Human smuggling and trafficking are serious crimes that can lead to tragic consequences including loss of lives. These types of grave crimes, often international by nature, have become alarmingly common and Somaliland authorities have responded to the problem by drafting the Countering Trafficking in Person and Smuggling of Migrants Act. To support this work, EUCAP’s Field Office facilitated a two-day workshop in Hargeisa, organised by the Attorney General’s Office.

Twenty participants, three of them women, discussed the Act and obstacles they encounter when fighting human trafficking and smuggling related crimes. They also heard a presentation on UNHCR’s mandate and efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking. The participants including judges, prosecutors and representatives from the Somaliland Coast Guard and Somaliland Immigration, are all on the front line and part of the chain of Rule of Law, which is pivotal to combat these crimes.

“You are all from the core institutions, responsible for taking actions against human smuggling and trafficking. During this workshop, we will discuss and study the new draft Act on Countering Trafficking in Person and Smuggling of Migrants. Additionally, this is an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the different Rule of Law institutions, and clarify your own role in this chain,” said Somaliland Attorney General Hassan M Aden while opening the workshop on 18 August.

The participants analysed the draft Act in a working group and presented their findings and suggested a few corrections. They also discussed the obstacles that hinder their daily work against human trafficking and smuggling. They also stressed that proper implementation of the Rule of Law is the key for tackling these type of crimes.

Yahye Aw-Aadan, Prosecutor in Wajaale (a border town between Somaliland and Ethiopia, where smugglers and traffickers are very active) gave an example:

“We are dealing with businessmen, smuggler and trafficker tycoons. We can bring this kind of businessman to court and prosecute him with full evidence but after a few days, we hear that he has been released after paying a fine and continues his criminal business. What we need is to re-enforce and implement strictly the Rule of Law. That would enable us to prevent crimes or at least to decrease number of crimes,” stated Prosecutor Aw-Aadan.

Somaliland Solicitor General Abdisamad Maal said that he was very pleased to listen to suggestions and comments on the new draft Act and promised that the observations and suggestions will be considered in the finalising phase of the Act. The participants stressed that it would be extremely important to get the new law approved soon as it will enable them to effectively prosecute and prevent human smuggling and trafficking.

“It is a very positive step forward that the Attorney General organized this workshop which had both legal and practical parts. The update on the new draft legislation, the discussions and practical group exercises gave the participants new tools in their hands to combat with trafficking and smuggling of migrants,” said EUCAP’s Legal Adviser Ib Kok Hansen.

FACTS: The difference between smuggling and trafficking human smuggling is illegal movement of persons across international borders for a fee. Trafficking is moving persons for exploitation. It involves a state of being forced and coerced. Trafficking can occur on a national level and it does not necessarily include movement across international borders.

Eucap

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