Updated: Aug 9
European Union joins forces to fight human trafficking in Philippines with launch of Zamboanga Justice Zone
The EU, through its Governance in Justice programme (GOJUST), is supporting the planning and development of the new Zamboanga City Justice Zone. This is the second justice zone to be created in Mindanao — after Davao City — and the first of such Zones with a thematic focus: preventing and combating human trafficking.
H.E Luc Véron, Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines joined Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Lord A. Villanueva - the key actors of the Justice Sector Coordination Council (JSCC)- for the launch of the Zamboanga City Justice Zone at the Marcian Garden Hotel, Zamboanga City.
“The European Union has been a committed partner to the Philippine’s Justice Sector reform since 2006. The purpose of justice sector coordination is to improve the sector’s efficiency and accountability, but its real, ultimate goal is to improve the lives of the people of the Philippines. With the launching of the Zamboanga Justice Zone focusing on fighting human trafficking, Justice sector coordination has been taken one-step further towards that goal. The EU feels honored to contribute to this process”, said H.E Luc Véron, Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines.
The location of Zamboanga City as an entry and exit point in Mindanao makes it more vulnerable to human trafficking activities. Even during the pandemic, despite the heightened travel and health restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 health crisis, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 9 reported 345 human trafficking cases in 2020 and 307 cases just in the second quarter of 2021 in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The Justice Zone, supported by the European Union and the JSCC, is designed to enhance the coordination and cooperation between government agencies and non-government organizations to prevent, protect and ensure speedy access to justice to the victims of trafficking.
Since 2014, Justice sector coordination aims to improve efficiency in the administration of criminal justice by ensuring that all agencies and institutions involved work together effectively. Zamboanga is the 10th Justice Zone to be launched, joining Cebu, Quezon City, Angeles, Davao, Bacolod, Naga, Calamba, Balanga, and Baguio. The recently approved Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 has endorsed the coordination policy as a way to improve the sector’s efficiency and accountability. According to the PDP, 4 new justice zones will be launched every year during the Plan’s period.
With a total grant of EUR19 million (Php 1.1 billion ) over a period of four years, the EU’s GOJUST programme supports the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ efforts to improve access to justice for all Filipinos, and thus, contribute to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development.
GOJUST works with the Philippine Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to develop more responsive and accountable justice services in the country. In addition, GOJUST aims at strengthening the Commission on Human Rights to help it carry out its constitutional mandate of civil and political rights protection and enhance human rights promotion in the Philippines. This component is co-funded with the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID), with an additional EUR 1 million (Php 59.47 million). (Photos Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)