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AU Commission Initiative against Trafficking (AU.COMMIT) Campaign

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 21, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Advocate Bience Gawanas, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union (AU) on 29 November will preside at the official opening ceremony of the Regional Consultative Workshop for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States on the operationalisation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The two-day workshop, hosted by the Africa Union Commission, in collaboration with SADC, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will bring together participants from all SADC Member States, the Africa Union Commission, and international partners.

The consultative workshop will foster effective ways of networking, coordination and cooperation among Member States and partners to address trafficking in persons in Southern Africa in a more strategic and programmatic manner. It is aimed to sensitise SADC member states on the operationalisation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, and on the regional launching of the AU.COMMIT campaign, which endeavours to raise awareness of the AU's continued commitment towards addressing the problem of trafficking in human beings throughout the continent. The AU.COMMIT campaign is aimed at galvanising activities undertaken by the AU Commission, including global, regional and national initiatives towards more synergised and coordinated actions to combat trafficking in persons in Africa.

The Workshop will further discuss the development of policy indicators, setting of benchmarks, follow-up and monitoring mechanisms, and identification and dissemination of best practices in support of the implementation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan and the AU.COMMIT Campaign.

Trafficking in persons is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world, which results in serious breaches of human rights. This phenomenon poses an increasingly serious challenge to humanity. In order to address it seriously, better cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination is required for which regional and sub-regional mechanisms play a key role in providing a response that is both multilateral and sufficiently close to countries' realities and specificities within a certain region.

It is expected that the workshop will formulate a clear way forward within SADC on the translation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan into measures and common standards for preventing trafficking, prosecuting traffickers and providing assistance to victims of trafficking.

Some guiding principles for a common vision that participants will take home are the importance of supporting ownership and implementation, collaboration at all levels and linking efforts together, making sure that all programs and initiatives are empirically-based, ensuring that programs have the technical support needed for interventions to meet an international standard, instilling a sense of urgency while moving initiatives forward at a pace that allows the project to show tangible results, the importance of quality and precision and a measurable impact.

Most importantly, this workshop serves as reminder that Africa must strive to always serve those in need – those who are vulnerable and/or those who have been trafficked.

Journalists are invited to cover the opening ceremony on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 (09:00 to 10:00) after which there will be a press briefing. The meeting will be convened at the Kopanong Hotel, Tel: +27 (11) 749-0000, Fax: +27 (11) 967-1389, 243 Glen Gory Road, Norton Estate, Benoni, South Africa, http://www.kopanong.co.za.