International meeting in Niger against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons


Smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons are forms of transnational organized crime that affect countries of departure, transit and destination, both in Africa and in Europe. These phenomena, linked to migration issues, are threatening the most fundamental rights of victims and are quickly becoming more complex, notably because of the involvement of organized criminal networks.

Concerned by the risks posed by these challenges and their impact on the regional security environment, governments and institutions in the region have decided to take action to put an end to these particularly lucrative criminal activities.

Organized at the initiative of the Government of Niger, a regional conference brought together the general directors and senior commanders of security forces in charge of fighting against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

Group photo of the participants
Group photo of the participants

This conference took place in Niamey on 18 and 19 June 2018, and was attended by delegations from African and European countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Germany, Gambia, Guinea Conakry, France, Italy, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain, Senegal, and the United Kingdom. Bilateral partners and international organizations were also present: the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INTERPOL and the Permanent Secretariat of G5 Sahel.

During the opening ceremony, Mr Mohamed BAZOUM, Minister of State, Minister of Interior, Public Security, Decentralization and Customary and Religious Affairs of the Republic of Niger, recalled that " the fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings has been at the center of many international meetings in which our various countries have participated in recent years ".

This high-level meeting is part of the implementation of the Joint Declaration of 16 March 2018, according to which the Ministers of Interior and of Foreign Affairs of participating States formulated practical and operational recommendations to improve their coordination in the fight against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

Throughout the sessions chaired by Mr Souley BOUBACAR, General Director of Niger's National Police, the participants pleaded for a mutualization of efforts and better cooperation between actors in the field, both at national and regional levels, and between States of origin, transit and destination.

The sessions began with a presentation of the legal frameworks enforced in each country to assess their compliance with international standards set by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its two additional Protocols on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. The discussions then focused on judicial cooperation and the strengthening of national operational tools to combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

The participating delegations were able to exchange on good practices already implemented in their countries, and on the different ways to improve an effective security response in West Africa, while respecting judicial procedures and respect for human rights.

Mr Mohamed Bazoum, Minister of Interior, during the opening ceremony
Mr Mohamed Bazoum, Minister of Interior, during the opening ceremony

The case of Niger is worth noting as it has one of the most advanced legislation in this area, and is obtaining very encouraging results. For example, from 1 January to 15 June 2018, 68 traffickers were brought before Nigerien tribunals and 10 vehicles and 4 motorcycles were immobilized.

At the end of the conference, the delegations of all participating countries adopted recommendations aimed at intensifying efforts to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons. They validated the establishment of a permanent mechanism to monitor commitments and to periodically measure the progress made by each country. This permanent monitoring mechanism has been placed under the auspices of UNODC.

The initiative contributes to the Regional Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in West and Central Africa (2015-2020), through which UNODC provides support to countries in the region in addressing the challenges posed by these phenomena, and is also part of the UNODC Regional Programme (2016-2020).

UNODC, as guardian of the Convention and its additional Protocols, and through its Sahel Programme, has provided technical assistance to Sahelian countries for several years, in order to support and promote the alignment of national legal frameworks with international standards.