From 28 to 30 January in Palermo International Conference “Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings”

The NGO Ciss Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud (ITALY) calls for a joint initiative aimed at building new transnational partnerships to fight and prevent Trafficking in Human Beings (THB).

In consortium with Dortmunder Mitternachtsmission e.V. (GERMANY), Herzwerk (AUSTRIA), Movimiento por la Paz (SPAIN), People for Change Foundation (MALTA), Mater Africa for Humanitarian Aid (Nigeria) and CRESM – Centre for Social and Economic Research in Southern Italy (Italy), Ciss invites all the interested stakeholders to participate in an international conference that aims to gather together European and African civil society organizations and institutions engaged in the field of anti-trafficking Prevention, Prosecution, Protection and Partnership.

The event will take place in Palermo, Sicily, in a transit migration area located at the core of the Central Mediterranean Route, where, as highlighted by the European Commission1, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported a 600% increase since 2014 in the number of women and girls potential victims arriving by boat from Libya to Italy, predominantly from Nigeria. According to IOM, 80% of them are destined to sexual exploitation and the risk seems to increase for the minors.

Recently, Italy has seen witnessed an augmentation of the number of Nigerian under eighteen. In 2017 IOM registered a rise of 197% compared to the 1,022 Nigerian minors that have arrived in the antecedent previous year. Notwithstanding the significant reduction in the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Italy through the Mediterranean Sea registered in 2018, human trafficking quickly evolves through different routes.

The Nigerian trafficking involves also other countries in Western African Region, with Nigerians transit Cote d’Ivoire in route to sex trafficking [2] and Ghana being a transit point for West Africans subjected to sex trafficking in Europe, especially Italy and Germany [3].

Even though not confirmed by the statistics, it has been noticed an increase in the number of women and girls coming also from the Gambia and Cameroon among the potential victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation across the Mediterranean Routes.

Domestic and regional child trafficking are also relevant challenges in the Western African Region.

Serious measures should be taken by European and African institutions, in cooperation with the civil society, to monitor adaptation strategies for this transnational organized crime. Understanding the root causes in the context of origin countries as well as the pull factors attracting the traffickers in destination countries is a key to identify effective prevention strategies.

The Palermo Conference is the final event of the project BINIs – Best practices In tackling trafficking NIgerian Route, funded by the EU (HOME/2015/AMIF/AG/THBX/8909).

The Palermo Conference Objectives: Strengthening efforts to prevent Trafficking in Human Beings. Enhancing the role of Civil Society and European and African cooperation

In line with the EU Anti-trafficking Directive [4], the 2017 EC Communication [5] and the 2017 OSCE Decision6, the Palermo Conference aims at strengthening the capacity to prevent trafficking in human beings, in particular by enhancing the cooperation between European and African civil society. During the conference, the members of European and African Civil Society Organizations engaged in THB prevention in origin, transit and destination countries are expected to exchange experiences and to outline joint strategies and programs tailored to prevent human trafficking.

The representatives of the CSOs will discuss different preventing actions, such as those measures identified by the Warsaw Convention [7]: research, information, awareness raising, education campaigns, social and economic initiatives and training programmes, particularly for persons vulnerable to traffic and for professionals concerned with trafficking in human beings.

During the Conference, the role of development cooperation will be analysed, considering the contribution which international cooperation programs may give towards achieving Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, with particular attention to those targets which are related to human trafficking: targets 5.2 [8] , 8.7[9] and 16.2 [10].

During the event, in-depth information on the root causes that make people more vulnerable to trafficking such will be shared with the public by the African organizations, such as: as poverty, gender inequality, violence against women, ethnic discrimination, societal marginalisation, and irregular migration. Common strategies to discourage the demand of exploitation in the EU Member States will be explored during the conference by paying attention to information campaigns involving target groups of citizens, public authorities and policymakers.

A specific panel will examine the educational programmes for boys and girls during their schooling, which stress the unacceptable nature of discrimination based on sex, and its disastrous consequences, the importance of gender equality and the dignity and integrity of every human being.

The Conference will promote the multi-stakeholder dialogue; representatives of relevant institutions at cross-border, national and local level will be invited to intervene and dialogue with the civil society actors.

The adoption of a human-rights based approach will be encouraged in the spirit of the EU Anti- trafficking Directive and of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The participating CSOs are promised to advocate the opening of legal pathways to the European Union. Guarantying the right to mobility as an inalienable human right is one of the key actions to prevent smuggling and trafficking across the Mediterranean migration route.


The participants attending the conference will represent Civil Society Organizations committed to fighting human trafficking in origin, transit and destination countries, and including, among others, participants from Italy, Austria, Germany, Malta, Spain, Finland, Nigeria, Ghana, the Gambia. Relevant authorities and international organizations will be invited to attend the conference with the purpose to apply a multi-actor approach and to envisage shared prevention initiatives. Around 60 participants and delegations from 10 countries are expected to intervene in the conference.

Format of the conference

The conference will be articulated in three-day main sessions:

1st Session: an institutional session will be organized with representatives of relevant public authorities and civil society organizations, which aims to identify common prevention strategies to tackle the trafficking in human beings, with a special focus on sexual exploitation and trafficking of Nigerians. Relevant stakeholders such as representatives of the EU institutions, the Italian and Nigerian authorities will be invited as speakers during this panel.

The event will address different topics connected with the Nigerian trafficking, exploring new routes and trends.

2nd Session: a plenary session and 3 parallel workshops will be organized to give the opportunity to enhance the exchange of knowledge and practices experienced by the African and EU civil society organizations in the field of identification, protection and socio-economic inclusion of the victims of trafficking.

3rd Session: a working session to build the content of a common virtual forum( will be organized and to focus on common prevention strategies. A final plenary session will allow summarizing the findings and results of the three- day event and to outline few closing remarks and the conference’s follow-up.

The workshop will be organized thanks to the support of interactive methodologies in order to facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge, experiences, and tools; and to create cohesion and shared perspectives among the participants.

During the panels/workshops each participant will have the opportunity to provide a detailed analysis of the results and challenges of the work of the organization they represent.

Practical information
The Conference is organized by CISS in Palermo city, the administrative capital of Sicily, located at 35km from the nearest airport (International airport Falcone and Borsellino of Palermo- Punta Raisi) and almost 200 km from Catania Airport (train and bus services are available from Catania). CISS will assist participants during the Visa process (if needed) as well in all aspects related to the travel and accommodation in Palermo. Participants are expected to arrive in Palermo on the 27th of January and to depart from Palermo on the 31st of January.

Specific needs will be taken in due consideration by the logistic team.

The participation to the conference is free and travel/accommodation costs will be entirely covered by the organizers.

The Conference’s working languages are Italian and English; interpreting service from English to Italian and vice versa will be provided.
To join the conference, please complete the online application form by acceding to the link:

CISS – Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud
Via Marconi 2/a, 90141, Palermo – Italy
Contact person: Margherita Maniscalco, Project Manager
mobile phone: +39 3204603198
office line: +39 091 6262694

[1] Commission staff working document accompanying the document Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, Brussels, SWD (2018), 473 final.
[2] 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report.
[3] Ibidem.
[4] Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA (OJ L 101, 1 15.4.2011).
[5] Brussels, 4.12.2017 COM(2017) 728 – final COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions.
[7] Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, Warsaw, 16.V.2005
[8] SDG 5 Gender Equality, Target 5.2: eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
[9] SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, Target 8.7: take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its fors.
[10] SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institution, Target 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

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