Specialists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe join forces at a COPOLAD workshop to design guidelines for action to address in a differentiated way the situation of women in vulnerable situations, exploited by trafficking networks and involved in drug trafficking
The expansion of drug trafficking networks in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean generates connections with other criminal phenomena, such as human trafficking. These links particularly affect women in vulnerable situations, often victims of trafficking, who are also involved in the production, trafficking and transport of drugs, which leads to high rates of incarceration. The complexity of these situations makes it necessary to rethink the anti-drug trafficking strategies developed to date, paying differentiated attention to this type of interconnected crime.
In this context, the launch of the initiative ‘The gender dimension in the relationship between drug trafficking and human trafficking’ took place on 19 and 20 October in Buenos Aires (Argentina), promoted by the European cooperation programme COPOLAD, led by the FIIAPP, in the framework of the alliance with the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors (AIAMP): the Ibero-American Network of Specialised Prosecutors against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (REDTRAM), the Network of Anti-Drug Prosecutors of Ibero-America (RFAI) and the Specialised Gender Network (REG). The initiative is led by the FIIAPP and the International Italo-Latin American Organisation (IILA), in close collaboration with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Argentina.
The activity was attended by Argentinean staff from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Security. Also in attendance were representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Paraguay; the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Brazil; the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Spain; Eran Nagan, Head of the Political Section of the European Union Delegation in Argentina; and members of three EU programmes that combat organised crime in the region: EUROFRONT, the European Support Programme for the special anti-drug forces in Bolivia and the EU Support Programme for the Fight against Drugs and Organised Crime in Peru.
Throughout the working sessions, it has been addressed new preventive and criminal treatment approaches for women and LGTBI+ people used by drug traffickers in the production, transport or micro-trafficking of drugs, through their recruitment by labour trafficking networks or for sexual exploitation, who take advantage of their situation of extreme vulnerability. The fight against human trafficking and drug trafficking requires a comprehensive and gender-sensitive approach.
In addition, the importance of strategically targeting criminal prosecution of criminal organisations involved in drug trafficking and human trafficking and strengthening articulated and holistic strategies for the detection and investigation of the crime has been highlighted. Emphasis has been placed on the principle of ‘non-criminalisation’ in cases of women and LGTBI+ persons who transport drugs or are involved in the production or micro-trafficking as victims of human trafficking.
The workshop concluded with the need to train multidisciplinary teams that apply a differential approach to gender and human rights at an early stage, as well as the creation of joint national and international multidisciplinary investigation teams, and the reinforcement of protection and care measures for victims.
Based on the reflections of the workshop in this first diagnostic work, over the next few weeks standards and good practices in this area will be identified to provide general guidelines for action to the prosecutors’ offices that are part of the AIAMP. The initiative envisages the beginning of experiences of implementation of these guidelines in specific interventions promoted by the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.