World Day against Trafficking in Persons: Women Lawyers Seek Greater Support for NAPTIP, NHRC, Others

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria on Thursday called on government at all levels, private sector and general public to increase support for all first responders to human trafficking in the country.

The lawyers, who identified the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as being in the forefront of the struggle, said such support would go a long way in eradicating trafficking in person in the country.

The group, in a statement by its Country Vice-President/National President, FIDA Nigeria, Mrs Rhoda Tyoden, and
National Publicity Secretary, Mrs Eliana Martins, described trafficking in person as evil and criminal “mostly targeted at vulnerable people” which must be stopped.

The women lawyers noted that the UN theme for this year’s commemoration, “Working on the frontline to end human trafficking”, is apt because it is focused on the first responders to human trafficking.

“This covers the various people who work in the different sectors – those identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking; while also challenging the impunity of the traffickers,” they said.

They claimed that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the essential role of first responders has become even more important, particularly as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made their work even more difficult.

While lamenting that the contributions of the first responders are often overlooked and unrecognized, “FIDA commends the effort and service of all first responders and all NGOs playing a key supporting role here”.

“According to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) 2019 report, two hundred and three cases were fully investigated by the Agency. Cases of child abuse and procurement of persons for sexual exploitation constituted 17.7% and 9.4% respectively. NAPTIP also reports that the average age of trafficked children in Nigeria is 15, while Nigeria has now upgraded to a Tier 2 country on the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (2019). 75% of those who are trafficked within Nigeria are trafficked across states, while 23% are trafficked within states NAPTIP (2016) report. We must keep a careful watch on these numbers, and improve on data collection.

“FIDA appeals that the challenges often encountered by first responders to human trafficking should be promptly addressed to better facilitate their work,” it said.

To checkmate the menace of trafficking in person, FIDA called on governments to put greater protective and security measures in place to curtail the crime of human trafficking.

“State and national borders need to be better regulated to ensure that people are not subjected to illegal transportation and exploitation.

“Ensure regular and consistent human trafficking awareness trainings and sensitization for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, educators, and employees, among others.

“Advocacy/outreaches targeted at the youth/parents/guardians to help mitigate the menace of trafficking.

“FIDA Nigeria appreciates the hard work agencies and ministries of government including NGOs are doing in this respect. FIDA pledges continued support in the fight against human trafficking and looks forward to more collaborations in this fight to ensure that women and children can live in a society free from exploitation and abuse,” the statement added.