UN anti-crime chief opens Crime Commission urging action to prevent migrant smuggling

Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov addresses the 24th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Photo: UNIS Vienna

18 May 2015 – The top United Nations official involved in the Organization’s fight against illegal drugs and international crime said today how horrified he was when he first heard the news of migrants dying when their boats sank in the Mediterranean – “the latest reports of a tragedy seemingly without end.”

“Since then,” said Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “thousands more migrants and refugees have died all over the world, on treacherous journeys to reach their destinations, often at the hands of criminal smuggling groups. We cannot let this situation continue.”

In his opening speech at the 24th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), the UNODC chief said news of the deaths had broken during the 13th Crime Congress in Doha in April this year.

Mr. Fedotov referred to efforts made by the Government of Italy to protect migrants while simultaneously combating migrant smuggling and he said the experiences showed that the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, and its protocol on migrant smuggling, can be effective against the smuggling networks that exploit migrants.

He described how migrant smuggling cuts across borders and is intimately linked with peace and security, human rights and development, and he said UNODC would support Governments efforts through the agency’s integrated, inter-regional approaches to tackling it along with other challenges.

“Our policies must be coherent,” the Executive Director said. “Our responses integrated and inclusive, uniting countries of origin, transit and destination, based on the principle of shared responsibility.”

The 24th Session of the Commission runs from 18 to 22 May in Vienna and attracts around 1,000 representatives of Member States and civil society. During the five days of the Crime Commission there will be one special event on foreign terrorist fighters, around nine draft resolutions, more than 30 side events and a series of exhibitions.

Other speakers at the opening included Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Mexican Ambassador and Chairperson of the 24th Session of the Commission, and Sheila Abed, the Minister of Justice of Paraguay.

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