IAWJ conducts inaugural South - South Dialogue on Trafficking in Persons with women judges from Africa and the Caribbean.
The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) in partnership with the National Association of Women Judges Uganda (NAWJU), the International Association of Women Judges-Kenya Chapter (IAWJ-KC), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted an inaugural South - South Dialogue among its partners and stakeholders throughout Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The South - South dialogue was implemented under the project “Women Judges Leading Effort to Improve Justice Sector Effectiveness in Combatting Trafficking.” The project is funded by a grant from the United States Department of State through the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS). The dialogue was implemented in commemoration of World Day Against Child Labour (June 12th, 2022).
With this dialogue, the IAWJ sought to create spaces to build counter trafficking networks across geographical and language boundaries in order to adequately respond to trafficking crimes. South – South and Regional dialogues provide a platform to promote good practices, enhance the understanding of human trafficking methods, and strengthen inter-agency cooperation. The event was attended by over 40 advocates, judges and magistrates representing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Trinidad & Tobago.
IAWJ’s director, Christie Jones, opened the session by welcoming participants and highlighted the importance of inter-agency dialogues to gain insight and recommendations for addressing trafficking crimes. Justice Henrietta Wolayo (NAWJU) and Justice Agnes Murgor (IAWJ-KC) shared updates on the project’s judicial and multi-sector trainings and the production of labor trafficking bench books. Carlos Perez (UNODC) shared findings from the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons which found that women continue to be the main victims of human trafficking.
As a part of the dialogue, Project Officer Lissette Reyes delivered a presentation on the TRACK4TIP initiative. TRACK4TIP is a three-year initiative implemented by the UNODC across eight countries in South America and the Caribbean. The overall objective of TRACK4TIP is to enhance the regional criminal justice response to human trafficking among migration flows while following a victim-centered and multidisciplinary approach. Ms. Reyes also spoke about UNODC’s recently launched study on the links between the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on TIP. She emphasized, “factors relating to the pandemic made migration journeys more expensive and increased the risks of exploitation and aggravation when migrants cannot pay.”
Following the UNODC presentation, participants had the opportunity to engage in breakout sessions discussing victim-centered approaches, cross-border collaboration, national coordination, and normalized exploitative practices. Participants were able to share experiences from their respective countries and learn from others about their TIP policies and challenges. The dialogue closed with a plenary session which provided participants with an opportunity to share points of discussion that occurred in the breakout rooms.
The first group discussed cross-border collaboration in which it was noted that documentation plays a big part in identifying and protecting victims. The next group discussed national coordination committees within each represented country and the idea of a national database was discussed as a possible solution for effective national coordination. The third group considered victim-centered approaches and the importance of protecting victims and witnesses, by, for example, allowing victims to testify by CCTV camera in order to provide a safe space. The final group’s topic was normalized exploitative practices. Common exploitative practices that were discussed between countries included child labor, child marriage, and domestic work.
As a follow up to the South-South dialogue, IAWJ has shared the recording with participants and invitees, and will also be sharing a report on the activity. In addition, IAWJ will recommend specific actions the members and participants can implement to improve cross-border awareness and create stronger counter trafficking networks as discussed in the plenary session. Recommendations include working to administer a national referral database, increasing communication between countries where transitional trafficking occurs, and prioritizing documentation efforts to protect foreign victims.
The project referenced in this article was made possible through support provided by the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) under a grant from the U.S. Department of State. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of GFEMS or the U.S. Department of State.
 These are the countries currently engaged in the Track4TIP program: Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao and Aruba