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Global Prosecutors Consortium Gathers in Kenya to Discuss Emerging Trends and Challenges to Combatting Human Trafficking

The McCain Institute and Justice & Care convened the second annual Summit of the Global Consortium on Prosecuting Human Trafficking (Prosecutors Consortium) in Nairobi, Kenya, February 26 through 29. The Summit brought together experienced human trafficking prosecutors from 12 countries to engage in scenario-based training, learn from international experts, and strengthen their relationships with other prosecutors. Countries represented at the Prosecutors Consortium included Argentina, Bangladesh, France, Ghana, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Consortium – which was launched in 2021 – aims to address human trafficking and forced labor by aligning the best available evidence for prosecuting cases with a victim-centered approach and building a vibrant global practitioners’ network. Despite increased global awareness of human trafficking, the number of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking offenses remains low.

“Around the world, human traffickers operate with a sense of near-certain impunity. This global network of experienced prosecutors has a critical role to play in creating an international response that holds perpetrators accountable and secures justice for survivors,” said Kristen Abrams, chief program officer at the McCainInstitute.

Carrying forward a key theme from the 2023 Summit, Sophie Otiende, survivor leader and CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, joined by legal practitioner Betty Kabari and survivor leaders from Azadi, kicked off the Summit with a session challenging the prosecutors to rethink what “justice” means for survivors of human trafficking. This critical and honest conversation set the tone for the remainder of the Summit as prosecutors continued to reflect on different forms of justice and how to prosecute a case while keeping the victims’ needs and priorities at the forefront.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman hosted Consortium members at a reception at her residence to discuss the role the United States plays in Kenya and throughout the region in combatting serious human rights offenses. The prosecutors also met local and regional government officials, civil society organizations, and NGOs working to combat human trafficking.

“The Summit in Nairobi marks a significant step forward as we join forces with human trafficking prosecutors from across the globe to combat the world’s fastest-growing crime. We commend the unwavering commitment, skill, and expertise of these prosecutors, as well as the invaluable contributions of our partners and specialist advisers,” says James Clarry, CEO of Justice & Care. “We were particularly grateful to welcome participants with lived experience of exploitation, who offered an important reminder that for many survivors, alongside prosecutions and convictions, justice is care.”

During scenario-based training sessions led by Prosecutors Consortium advisor and Senior Attorney at AEquitas Jane Anderson, the prosecutors worked together to plan a victim-centered approach to prosecuting a complex hypothetical forced labor case involving individuals with intellectual or physical disabilities.

Prosecutors strengthened collaborative relationships across global jurisdictions. According to one participant, “You really cannot overestimate the benefit of an in-person meeting to build relationships and friendships. Since the Summit, I have reached out to colleagues for specific advice in relation to cases. I don’t think I would have done this had I not met them in person first.”

To facilitate the involvement of prosecutors from all regions and perspectives, including the Global South, all prosecutors and advisors participated at no cost to their home country or organization. The Prosecutors Consortium will convene virtually throughout the remainder of 2024, before coming back together in early 2025 for the next in-person Summit.

Moving forward, Prosecutors Consortium members will continue to find ways to leverage their collective voice and expertise to promote practical, actionable policy recommendations and elevate best practices. The prosecutors have repeatedly acknowledged that while changing policies, practices, and guidelines is a slow and complicated process, the ability to learn from each other has been beneficial in their continuing efforts to promote promising practices in their respective countries.

Click here to learn more about the McCain Institute’s Human Rights and Freedom Program.

Publish Date
March 14, 2024