Cote d'Ivoire - N'guessan Zekre Haddad
Remarks on organized crime, human trafficking and drug trafficking
Madam Suzanne N’guessan Zekre Haddad
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Women Judges of Cote D’Ivoire
First of all, I would like to thank and pay tribute to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and also to its leaders, who spared no effort to hold this high-level meeting. My presence here in these excellent conditions is an honor for me.
I fully associate to these thanks and tributes, the members of the International Association of Women Judges and also those of Cote d’Ivoire who spare no effort to defend the rights of women.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have the honor, in the general framework of strengthening the capacity of women judges in the prosecution of serious crimes, organized crime and human trafficking, to give you on one hand a brief outline of the international legal framework applicable in Cote d’Ivoire, the national legal sources, and on the other hand the implementation for an effective coercion as well as my appreciations both on the West African Networks against organized crime, the Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP) and Inter-Agency for Asset Recovery (ARINWA) and also on regional cooperation.
It should be noted that, together with the evolution of practices and knowledge observed in the world, crime in all its various forms has not only become more complex, but has also varied its means of expression in order to hope to see its authors, co-authors or accomplices escape from prosecution and repression.
It follows from these circumstances that, in order to effectively fight these transnational and transverse criminal phenomena, the appropriate strategy must be comprehensive, coordinated and be binding on the international community.
So, aware of the seriousness of the situation, Cote d’Ivoire continues to improve its legal framework to enable it not only to fight internally against crime, but also to provide a co-operation framework with all the countries that it goes to for help, or those who ask for its support.
I. The Legislative Definition and Manifestations of Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is a complex criminal phenomenon defined by the Additional Protocol to the 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) signed and ratified by Cote d’Ivoire, aiming at preventing, repressing and punishing human trafficking and which requires for its commission, three structural elements namely:
- An act: the recruitment, the reception, the transfer, the transportation or the accommodation of a person;
- One means: the threat of appeal, the use of force or other forms of coercion, kidnapping, fraud, deception, abuse of authority or a situation of vulnerability to obtain a person’s consent;
- One goal: exploitation of people.
First, the consent of migrants is always at the root of the smuggling process, whereas it is not the case in human trafficking. This offence unfortunately exists in Cote d’Ivoire as in many African States. Indeed, according to the US State Department’s 2016 report, Cote d’Ivoire is a country of origin, a transit country and a country of destination for victims of trafficking of sexually exploited women and exploited children in forced labour, working in plantations. The report also indicates that young girls were recruited in Cote d’Ivoire to be exploited in domestic work in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon… Ivorian women are sexually exploited in Morocco and also as domestic servants in France. Ivorian networks use the smuggling of migrants to act as recruiters and they deceive the victims to transport them abroad and exploit them.
According to a 2013 Interpol report, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Guinea are transit areas for women from Nigeria, Ghana and to go to Europe to be sexually exploited. Operating countries in Europe are Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain, England and Holland.
With regard to Cote d’Ivoire, it has evolved in the adoption of legal instruments of struggle. The 2010 law only punished child trafficking. But since the law no. 2016-1111 of December 08, human trafficking is more completely defined.
II. The causes
The socio-political instability and fragility of most of these states, largely due to poverty or to lack of resources, explains the unfortunate predisposition of this part of the world to the development of transnational organized crime. The causes as well as the determinisms that make some people susceptible to being trafficked are varied. However, we can classify them into three categories: social, economic, political.
At the social level, different studies on human trafficking evoke the low access to basic services, illiteracy, school dropout and lack of qualifications, the desire for adventure, naivety... At the economic level, poverty, unemployment, unequal redistribution of resources, illusions about the West... Finally, at the political level, armed conflict and the absence of an appropriate legal framework.
In a relatively recent period, crime, although important, took place mainly within States, so that to a certain extent the proportion of offenses which could interest two or more States was reduced. But with the explosion of the means of communication and the development of integration policies and the free movement of people and goods, crime has become internationalized on a large scale. Transnational crime also appears to be aggravated by the radicalization of misconduct and easy-profit making.
West African states have become fertile land for the realization of offenses of all kinds such as heinous crimes, trafficking in human organs, drugs, weapons, terrorism etc. Regional networks against organized crime and cooperation and mutual legal assistance are therefore a durable solution to fight these criminal phenomena.
III. West African Networks Against Organized Crime
What is the purpose of these networks? The purpose of these networks is to identify practitioners working in the field of criminal justice like privileged interlocutors or focal points to foster international cooperation and mutual legal assistance.
In Cote d’Ivoire the Director of Civil and Criminal Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, is the focal point of the WACAP and ARINWA Networks for Cote d’Ivoire. So, all the acts of the Ivorian judicial authorities sent abroad or in particular to the judicial authorities of a WACAP member country go through the Directorate of Civil and Criminal Matter (DACP).
Given the internationalization of crime and the complexity of its operating methods, none of our states can effectively fight alone crime. It is therefore essential that the states pool their efforts to fight against the phenomenon.
The WACAP Network is one of these means of pooling efforts. The elements that make up the network in particular, the Central Authorities and the Prosecutors all participate, each at his level, in the fight against organized crime in their respective countries. These authorities must know each other and work together to promote the exchange of experiences, good practices and skills.
This can only create a climate of mutual trust favorable to the effectiveness of cooperation and mutual legal assistance.
With regard to the Inter-Agency Network for Asset Recovery in West Africa (ARIN-WA), it is part of the deciding outline of identification, confiscation and seizure of the fruits of transnational organized crime. It responds to the same objectives of pooling efforts, of cooperation and effective mutual legal assistance against all forms of organized crime. The permanent secretariat is based in Cote d’Ivoire, more precisely in the Judicial Treasury Agency.
Beyond the strengthening of relations between the authorities interested in the activities of the Networks, these appear as a powerful means of training Central Authorities, Prosecutors and investigating Judges. In Cote d’Ivoire, we are preparing to ask to the moderators of WACAP and ARIN-WA for training sessions of Magistrates on financial investigations, money laundering, terrorism, crimes against humanity etc.
IV. Focus on regional cooperation and mutual legal assistance
As a rule, judicial cooperation in West Africa should be easy and effective, given that the states that are in this region of the world share common values; the use of Portuguese and English in some of these states should not fundamentally stack the deck. However, we note that regional cooperation and mutual legal assistance are not up to expectations. What can this deficiency be attributed to? The answer to this question is not easy.
In fact, the requested States mention various reasons for not executing requests for mutual assistance. But most often the administrative burden is indexed as well as the ignorance of the appropriate procedures. However, we are positive as, recently, requests for cooperation are being executed within a reasonable time, suggesting a significant improvement.
Cote d’Ivoire, by acceding to the United Nations Conventions against Multiple Forms of Organized Crime and incorporating into its body of law a set of rules to prosecute and punish offenders, demonstrates its commitment to the fight against human trafficking. International judicial cooperation is essential in the fight against transnational organized crime. At the regional level, WACAP and ARINWA are effective means of this fight. Cote d’Ivoire is involved in its initiatives not only to welcome but also to strengthen.
Cote d’Ivoire is firmly committed to this momentum and, notwithstanding the existence of the ECOW AS conventions, it has undertaken to propose to all incoming States the signing of bilateral and multilateral agreements to facilitate mutual assistance and judicial cooperation in criminal matters in order to effectively fight all forms of organized crime.