Nigeria’s Fight against Human Trafficking!


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Nigeria’s has retained its high ranking, Tier-1, status on the global rating in her efforts to combat human Trafficking In Persons (TIP) according to the 2011 United States Department of State TIP Report.

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders − women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and forced commercial sexual exploitation, and boys for forced labor in street vending, domestic servitude, mining, and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and The Gambia, for the same purposes. Children from West African states like Benin, Togo, and Ghana – where Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rules allow for easy entry – are also forced to work in Nigeria, and some are subjected to hazardous jobs in Nigeria’s granite mines. Nigerian women and girls are taken to Europe, especially to Italy and Russia, and to the Middle East and North Africa, for forced prostitution. Traffickers sometimes move their victims to Europe by caravan, forcing them to cross the desert on foot, and subjecting them to forced prostitution to repay heavy debts for travel expenses. During the reporting period, Nigerian girls were repatriated from Libya and Morocco, where they were reportedly held captive in the commercial sex trade.

The Government of Nigeria fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It demonstrated sustained progress to combat human trafficking during the reporting period. In 2009, the government convicted 25 trafficking offenders and provided care for 1,109 victims, increases over the previous reporting period. It also continued to undertake strong efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking. In addition, its National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) ceased the practice of interrogating trafficking suspects at the same Lagos facility housing its shelter for trafficking victims. To better ensure victims’ rights are respected, NAPTIP formed a committee in mid-2009 to review victim care policies, aiming to strike a balance between ensuring victims’ safety in shelters and promoting their freedom of movement. The Nigerian government in 2009 pledged over $7 million in annual funds for NAPTIP’s operation and activities; all government programs received partial payment pending budget approval by legislative and executive branches. Due to a four-month delay in approval of the 2010 national budget, funds were distributed to all federal agencies in April 2010.

Prevention

The Government of Nigeria sustained strong efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking over the last year. NAPTIP’s Public Enlightenment Unit worked throughout the reporting period on national and local programming to raise awareness. For example, in rural Benue, Kogi, and Edo States, NAPTIP introduced grassroots programs and held its first annual race against human trafficking in Edo State with 5,000 runners. On the national level, it convened the 2009 Model UN Conference for secondary students with a theme of combating human trafficking. Furthermore, a nine-state tour was launched to establish state working groups against human trafficking. The objective of these and several related programs was to sensitize vulnerable people, sharpen public awareness of trends and tricks traffickers used to lure victims, warn parents, and share ideas among stakeholders. Audiences ranged from 50 to 5,000 persons. NAPTIP worked with Immigration Services to monitor emigration and immigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. The long-established Stakeholder Forum continued quarterly meetings in Abuja to foster collaboration among agencies. In August 2009, NAPTIP held a stakeholders’ workshop in Kaduna to set program priorities and cost estimates for implementing the National Plan of Action, which was established in 2008. Nigerian troops undergo mandatory human rights and human trafficking training in preparation for peacekeeping duties abroad. The government did not take major action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, though officials moved to shut down two brothels in Lagos during the first quarter of 2010. At these brothels, authorities rescued 12 females, including six underage victims of trafficking. One property owner was convicted, sentenced to two years in prison, and required to forfeit his hotel; his case remained under appeal at the end of the reporting period. The second brothel owner’s trial was ongoing and he remained free on bail.

The fight continues, even though the progress is slow, and the women and children are still the victims.

 

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