Ethiopian court convicts seven traffickers

The Ethiopian courts are putting new legislation passed in 2015 to punish traffickers into action and recent convictions include six Ethiopians and Eritreans now behind bars.

This month, seven traffickers have been sentenced to between six to 10 years in prison. Traffickers can even be sentenced to death if found guilty under the new, stricter legislation aimed at deterring this type of cruel immigration crimes.

The convicts appeared before the Tigray regional high court and were convicted of smuggling more than 75 migrants to Sudan and Saudi Arabia for up to 45,000 USD in return. They were also accused of abducting, mistreating and sexually and psychologically abusing migrants on route.

Ethiopia is largest refugee-hosting nation in Africa.  Recent UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) reports indicate that Ethiopia hosts nearly 800,000 refugees and many are attempting to migrate across the border to Sudan, and then onto Libya or Egypt with a view to eventually reaching Europe across the Mediterranean. As a result Ethiopia is proving to be a hotbed for people smugglers.

But the Ethiopian government is fighting back and has assisted in the identification of more than 3,000 trafficking victims and convicted 69 traffickers, an increase from 46 convicted during the previous year. This is according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of State’s Office.

Authorities in North Africa and the Horn of Africa region, where migrants originate or transit through, are trying to dismantle human trafficking networks by establishing stiff anti-human trafficking and illegal migration laws. In addition to Ethiopia, Sudan’s 2014 anti-human trafficking law and Egypt’s 2016 illegal migration law are now focused on  tackling these issues.