African Union launches initiative against human trafficking in Ethiopia

The African Union Commission’s Initiative against Trafficking (AU.COMMIT Campaign) was launched here in Addis Ababa on Tuesday 16 June 2009, at the headquarters of the AU.

At the ceremony, the AU.COMMIT Campaign Strategy Document was presented by Mehari Taddele, Program Coordinator for Migration at the AU.

Mehari began by observing that June 16 was The Day of the African Child, and as such there was no better day on which to launch the AU.COMMIT Campaign. He observed that trafficking is a form of slavery and a form of international organised crime.

“Slavery assumes that the master is a superior human being, while the slave is an inferior human being. With trafficking in human beings, it is even more savage and abhorrent as the trafficked person is not only a slave but a source of body organs. There are many cases where organs of trafficked persons are stolen and, in some cases, they are deliberately killed for this purpose,” he stressed.

The Ouagadougou Action Plan, he said, was the main instrument to be implemented and used apart from the Migration Policy Framework for Africa and other AU policies in the campaign.

The action plan has proposed a three-pronged strategy: prevention of trafficking, protection of victims of trafficking and prosecution of those involved in the crime of trafficking and related forms of abuse. Some five major activities were planned over the next four years and these will be aimed at curbing both the supply and demand for human trafficking. He proposed the adoption of soft measures to curb the supply side and hard measures to fight the demand side.

Mehari told Capital that human trafficking in Africa is getting worse. “The AU has already formulated policies and is now working on disseminating the policies. But the implementation process rests highly on the commitment of African governments,” he stressed.

“Let’s prevent trafficking, protect victims of trafficking and prosecute those involved in trafficking,” was the slogan used by the AUC to send a strong message to the international community and the African population within the continent and in the Diaspora at the launch.

Organised by the Department of Social Affairs of the AUC, the AU.COMMIT campaign strategy documents will be implemented as part of the AU policies on migration and development, particularly the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children.
According to the organisers, the launch of the AU.COMMIT Campaign is aimed at making the fight against trafficking a priority for the continent.

Recently, the fight against trafficking in human beings has gained more prominence in the international and regional forums pertaining to global governance. This is particularly true with regards to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) programme.

In addition, the recent Sixth African Development Forum, jointly organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, and the African Union calls for the popularisation and implementation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan.

Similarly, the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership (Lisbon Action Plan) particularly the Africa-EU Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment calls for more action to combat human trafficking.


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