Between September 5 and 6 2019, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and The Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights are holding an important initiative entitled «The liaison magistrate initiative: a pilot project to foster international cooperation against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants». The roundtable opened this morning at the Siracusa International Institute’s headquarters with the welcome speeches given by Mr. Filippo Musca, Acting Director General of the Siracusa International Institute and by Mr. Oliver Stolpe, Country Office Representative for Nigeria of UNODC.
The liaison magistrate initiative – which mainly aims at countering the smuggling of migrants and related crimes in West African countries – was officially launched by UNODC in 2018, when two Nigerian liaison prosecutors were deployed in Italy and Spain to foster communication and to better overcome obstacles to mutual legal assistance (MLA) regarding the smuggling of migrants and related crimes.
The roundtable meeting in Siracusa – held one year after the beginning of the initiative, has three main objectives :
- To illustrate the main results achieved and lessons learned in deploying Liaison magistrates from Nigeria to Italy and Spain;
- To facilitate the exchange of information and good practices on international judicial cooperation mechanisms, particularly in relation to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants;
- To explore the possibility of extending the Liaison magistrates initiative to other European and Western African countries.
For this reason, it brings together magistrates from Nigeria, Italy and Spain who are involved in the project, as well as other Nigerian authorities involved in ensuring follow-up actions to the work of the liaison magistrate, prosecutors from the Italian Direzione Nazionale Antimafia (DNA), a representative from the Italian Ministry of Justice, selected contact points of the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP) and a Eurojust representative.