US Funds State Task Forces against Human Trafficking in Nigeria

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Bennett Oghifo

The United States Government is funding the establishment of task forces against human trafficking in Nigeria.

The task forces are being established by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with state and non-state actors.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the Communications Officer of UNODC Nigeria, Mr. Sylvester Atere, ahead of today’s commemoration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the establishment of state task forces was an essential component of UNODC project titled: ‘Strengthen the capacities of state and non-state institutions to assist, support and protect Victims of Trafficking (VoT) in Nigeria’, implemented in partnership with NAPTIP and funded by the US Government.

“A major output of the project is to support improved partnership coordination in the referral process for the support and protection of trafficked victims,” UNODC said, adding that the first state task force was established by the Edo State Government followed by Ondo, Delta and Ekiti States. Other states are expected to follow soon.

The establishment of these bodies, the UN agency said, reflected a multi-sectoral response to raise awareness, protect victims of trafficking, increase their access to justice as well as rehabilitate and provide support to prosecution of traffickers.

The statement said a report released by the UNODC in 2018 shows that while the identification of victims of human trafficking and conviction of traffickers were on the rise globally, probably due to increased state capacities in the related areas, it was unfortunate that Nigeria still has a low conviction rate of human traffickers.

“It is therefore imperative that the Nigeria Government demonstrate a strong commitment in its response at all levels to counter human trafficking,” adding that “the establishment of task forces with the participation of key stakeholders–donors, development partners, law enforcement agencies, MDAs, NGOs, traditional rulers, faith-based organisations-is a timely move and is also in line with the theme for this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons marked annually on July 31, which is ‘Human Trafficking: Call your Government to Action’.

The UNODC said the intervention was also in line with all government levels, multi-sectoral cooperation approach promoted under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its protocols to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially of women and children.

Also called Palermo Protocols, it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 55/255 on May 31, 2001. The treaty entered into force on July 3, 2005, and ratified by Nigeria on June 28, 2001. As of May 2019, 117 parties, including 116 states and the European Union, have signed the protocols.

In his statement to commemorate the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, said: “Tackling human trafficking brings us closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls; combatting organised crime and eradicating forced labour, abuse, exploitation and violence against children. Fighting this global scourge means building a society that leaves no-one behind.”