Editorial: World Day for International Justice, 2019

Every year, July 17 is marked as World Day for International Justice. This is the anniversary of the Rome Statute, the treaty creating the International Criminal Court. In 2010, when Uganda hosted the Rome Statute review conference, the parties decided that July 17 should be celebrated and it has been specially observed every year ever since. It is celebrated with events promoting international justice, not just the International Criminal Court, but also focusing on issues like crimes against humanity, crimes of violence against women and human trafficking.

To celebrate World Day for International Justice, and the 21st anniversary of the Rome Statute, we include in this edition the latest reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: ‘Global report on Trafficking in Persons, 2018’ as well as the US State Department’s 2018 global report on trafficking.

This set of reports on human trafficking across the globe offers the latest statistics and trends. They make absorbing reading, with their insight into how armed conflict affects trafficking and the extent of the problem in sub-Saharan countries.

International Justice concerns us all – and the new UN reports show that Africa, like every other continent, is deeply involved in trafficking. Courts in Africa and elsewhere try to protect people who have been trafficked and to punish those convicted of this crime. Across the continent, families and communities are also worried about how to protect their members from being trafficked. These reports show they are right to be concerned: trafficking occurs even under ‘normal’ conditions, but when it occurs during times of armed conflict it takes on a special horror.

The reports mention an encouraging development, however: thanks to raised awareness, nearly every country in the world now has laws criminalising human trafficking. Courts will use these laws to deny impunity to traffickers, but they cannot succeed on their own. While police and prosecutors must ensure that judicial officers get cases to try that are well investigated, strong support from political leadership is also crucial for effective combatting of human trafficking.

Click here to read Human trafficking reports show sub-Saharan Africa a global player