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January 23, 2021
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DJAG and IOM Pioneer First Training for Magistrates on Prosecuting Traffickers

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The Department for Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) conducted a unique Trafficking in Persons (TIP) workshop for resident magistrates from various district courts in National Capital District (NCD), Madang, West Sepik, Western Highlands, West New Britain, Western Province, East New Britain, and Central provinces.

The workshop, which was the first of its kind for PNG magistrates, was launched in Port Moresby from August 12-13. A total of 15 magistrates, including the Chief Magistrate, attended the intensive two-day workshop which shed light on the identification of Victims of Trafficking (VoTs), their specific needs, and response mechanisms available to victims.

“From this two-day workshop, we realised that it [human trafficking] isn’t just a transnational issue. Human trafficking can happen anywhere. We now understand that human trafficking is a process and there are elements that we have to use to identify cases,” said Nerrie Eliakim, Chief Magistrate for PNG.

Chief Magistrate Eliakim also said that one of the biggest challenges in combatting human trafficking is the lack of knowledge and awareness of the phenomenon across the country.

Furthermore, she relayed this has severely hindered effective investigations by law enforcement officers. Apart from that, the state doesn’t have fixed programmes or facilities to cater for the needs of victims.

She acknowledged the excellent work that IOM, in coordination with DJAG, has been doing and stressed the need for more awareness on the issue and technical training to ensure law enforcement officials are equipped with the necessary skills to correctly identify victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.

DJAG, with technical expertise from IOM, and support from the US Department of State, is working to empower law enforcement agencies and protection stakeholders in the fight against TIP in PNG. IOM’s Counter-Trafficking Programme continues to raise awareness on human trafficking with a specific focus on the identification and protection of VoTs. With law enforcement playing a crucial role in counter-trafficking, both organisations have recognised the need to train magistrates in PNG.

“This unique workshop was an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to re-affirm their commitment to eradicating trafficking in persons within PNG,” said Khalil Omarshah, Programme Coordinator from IOM’s Vulnerable Migrants Assistance Unit.

He further stated, “The engagement of the magistrates over the two days is unprecedented and afforded an opportunity for these key stakeholders to understand the crime of trafficking and most importantly, identify and protect victims, and prosecute offenders.”

During the training, discussions highlighted how cultural practices are often abused, such as early forced marriage, and aren’t recognised as human trafficking. The magistrates agreed that the training will enable them to clearly identify human trafficking cases that would normally be masked as gender-based, or child-based violence.

Source: International Organisation for Migration

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