* NAPTIP urged to re-strategise, double efforts in fight against trafficking in persons

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The United States Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria, Aruna Amirthanayagam, on Monday in Abuja disclosed that an estimated 24.9 million persons are trapped in modern-day slavery.

Amirthanayagam, who noted that the illicit art of trading in humans is a very old business, remarked that with the dimension slavery had assumed in modern times, people “can no longer sit at the side-lines and allow men and women, children and young adults to be exploited in your communities and nation”.

He was speaking at a programme organised by the U.S. Embassy Abuja in collaboration with Devatop Center to commemorate the 2018 World Day Against Human Trafficking.

He advised guests at the occasion to find out how they can get involved, “so that we stand together and work to ending human trafficking, if not in this generation, at least in the next”, adding that: “Today is the day to make a difference.”

He said: “We know the statistics: in a September 2017 report ILO estimates that: An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labour, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labour.

“Forced labour takes place in many different industries. Of the 16 million trafficking victims exploited for laboor 7.5 million (47%) forced labour victims work in construction, manufacturing, mining, or hospitality, 3.8 million (24%) forced labour victims are domestic workers, 1.7 million (11%) forced labour victims work in agriculture.”

The envoy, who lamented that unlike the drug trade, where commodities can only be sold and used once, individuals can be sold over and over and over again in the human trafficking business, adding that while 71 per cent of trafficking victims around the world are women and girls, 29 per cent are men and boys.

He noted that Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced labourers with 15.4 million (62% of the global total). Africa has 5.7 million (23%) followed by Europe and Central Asia with 2.2 million (9%). The Americas account for 1.2 million (5%) and the Arab States account for 1% of all victims.

Meanwhile, guests at the occasion, who were mainly young students, urged the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to change its strategy and redouble its efforts in combating the menace of human trafficking, noting that incidents of trafficking has continued to rise at a worrisome rate.

They suggested that the agency should emulate Britain who recently published the name of a recent human trafficking convict, alongside the proceeds of crime, stressing that such name and shame method would discourage others from the illicit business.

They also called on NAPTIP to put in place reliable and secured instruments of getting information on suspected human traffickers as well as protecting sources of such information.

Earlier, a NAPTIP representative at the occasion and a member of the panelists, Ebele Ulasi, disclosed that the agency over the years have succeeded in convicting 375 persons, while it is still prosecuting many other human trafficking suspects.

Ulasi said apart from enlightenment campaign in the media, NAPTIP has been partnering with schools, religious organisations among others to sensitise on the dangers of human trafficking.

She called on Nigerians to join in the fight to eradicate human trafficking in Nigeria by reporting suspected cases to NAPTIP and other security agencies.