Examining Global Report on Human Trafficking 

The recently launched global report on trafficking in persons has revealed that for the first time, the number of victims detected globally decreased by 11 per cent, a reduction that is largely driven by low and medium-low-income countries, writes Ugo Aliogo 

Recently the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) launched its 2022 Global Report on Trafficking in persons, which is the sixth of its kind mandated by the United Nations General Assembly in its Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in Persons. It covers 141 countries and provided an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at global, regional, and national levels, based on trafficking cases detected between 2017 and 2021.

The Report draws upon the largest existing dataset on trafficking in persons, with information on the more than 450,000 victims and 300,000 suspected offenders detected worldwide between 2003 and 2021 while noting the role of organised crime groups as the engine behind long-distance trafficking.

UNODC in the report noted that for the first time, the number of victims detected globally decreased by 11 per cent, adding that the reduction is largely driven by low- and medium-low-income countries and due to lower institutional capacity to detect victims, fewer opportunities for traffickers to operate and some trafficking forms moving to more hidden locations less likely to be detected.

The report added that despite these factors, some regions such as western and southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Central and South-Eastern Europe, as well as North America, recorded an increase in detection.

NAPTIP’s Position 

In Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) statistics shows that 1076 cases of trafficking in persons recorded in 2018 against 1032 cases in 2020. 

The report explained that COVID-19 had an important impact on trafficking flows, while noting that in sub-Saharan Africa, border closures and travel restrictions led to a 36 per cent drop in cross-border trafficking victims detected between 2019 and 2020.

It hinted that detected domestic trafficking victims increased by 24 per cent over the same period. 

It further explained that the COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated a global slowdown in convictions, adding that a 27 per cent reduction in convictions was recorded globally in 2020 and sub-Saharan Africa experienced a six per cent drop in its conviction rate in 2020 compared to 2019, the observation is less pronounced in Nigeria.

The report remarked that aalthough there was a decrease in the number of persons brought into formal contact with the police and/or criminal justice system for TIP-related affairs (823 persons in 2018 compared to 701 in 2019 and 733 in 2020) as well as in the numbers of persons prosecuted (113 in 2017 versus 87 in 2020), the number of persons convicted of trafficking in persons very slightly increased with 50 convictions in 2018 and 51 convictions in 2020.

According to the report, “There was however a big drop in 2019 with only 25 convictions recorded in Nigeria for that year. Although countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are convicting fewer traffickers and detecting fewer victims compared to the rest of the world, those regions provide a significant and increasing share of the victims identified in countries of exploitation.

“In 2020, according to NAPTIP, the main countries from which Nigerian victims were repatriated include Benin, Lebanon, Oman, Mali, and Togo. Most victims detected in sub-Saharan Africa are either citizen of the country of detection or citizens of other Sub-Saharan countries. However, the flows from sub-Saharan Africa are far more varied and extensive. Victims from sub-Saharan Africa are detected in the largest number of countries globally. Of the flows, most trafficked outside the region are detected in countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and in Europe. 

“The report noted that in 2020 the population of boys and men being trafficked for different purposes recorded a slightly significant increase to a total of 13 per cent and 23 per cent respectively as opposed to 3 per cent and 13 per cent in the previous years. Meanwhile, the share of women as detected victims of all forms of trafficking continued to fall (a decline of 10 percent in one year) along with drastically fewer victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. For the first time, trafficking for labour is slightly more detected than trafficking for sexual exploitation globally. 

Although in Nigeria, NAPTIP data shows that sexual exploitation remains the first form of exploitation with 460 cases against 279 cases recorded for forced labour. NAPTIP statistics show a reduction in the number of detected female victims throughout the years: 961 in 2018, 929 in 2019, and 868 in 2020. Even so, in sub-Saharan Africa, girls and women together still make up the largest share of victims, accounting for 62 per cent of the total and more children than adults (especially girls) continue to be detected as victims. 

“Female victims are also three times more likely to suffer violent forms of trafficking. An increased proportion of victims of mixed forms of exploitation (for example both women and men forced to work as maids and for other purposes), was equally underlined in the report.

Expert Viewpoint

To put the discourse in proper context, THISDAY spoke to the Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, Mr. Usie Charles Emmamuzou, who stated that the rise in human trafficking in Nigeria could be blamed on a number of factors in spite of effort to eliminate it, such as rising poverty, victim shaming, culture of silence which still pervades the society and regrettably slow prosecution and judicial processes.

He stated that NAPTIP should remain a priority for the government in terms of allocation of resources to enable the agency scale up its operations significantly.

He also noted that government and other stakeholders including the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can do better, and there is need to prioritise this more, while adding that people are still being trafficked on daily basis with young girls and women being the worst hit, “a 2019 study indicates that 94 per cent of trafficked persons were women or girls.”

Emmamuzou revealed that according to the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) Global Victim of Trafficking Database (VOTD), which was published by Plan International, victims from Nigeria constituted 94 per cent women.

He remarked that over half of these women and girls representing 51 per cent, were 24 years old or younger at the time of registration, and eight per cent were under 18, stating that for the women and girls with data available, 85 percent of them were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

He espoused that for the women and girls, 85 per cent of them were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, therefore called for protection of girls by all legitimate means, and perpetuators of trafficking should be punished according to the provisions of the law; that is the only way to establish deterrence for would-be offenders.


Emmamuzo posited that perpetuators abuse and exploit their victims, sexually, emotionally and physically for financial gains, noting that this is an abuse on human dignity and slavery in the 21st century because the trauma lives with the victims for the rest of their lives.

He shares a shocking revelation that many victims also fall to the antics of traffickers out of ignorance and unbridled quest for quick money-search for greener pastures, noting that they do this with the lure that in the end, they are scammed and trapped.

He added that every human-girls and boys; women and men all deserve to live in freedom and in dignity.

According to him, “The best form of defense they say is attack. Therefore, all the conditions that make it possible for people to traffic their fellow humans must be removed. It will be easier and cheaper to do so rather than reacting after the action has been committed. That said, the agency should invest more resources in the rehabilitation of victims, including those repatriated. Centers of excellence where victims are rehabilitated should be set up to enable them (victims) return to normal life. This will help a lot. Also, perpetuators should be tried in court expeditiously. The list of awaiting trials in Nigerian courts is regrettable. The government can set up special court for this purpose to try suspect and dispense justice. This will go a long way to serve as deterrence to would be offenders.

“The agency should also shore up enlightenment campaign in partnership with the civil society and other relevant government agencies to educate the general public especially parents and young people on ways to avoid being victims of trafficking.

Job creation, security and enabling environment powered by the government will also help reduce people’s quest to migrate. Once people know that the green pasture is here, there certainly will be no need searching for it elsewhere.”

Blame for Trafficking

The argument is that everyone has got a share of blame, so nobody is exempted. There was a period in Nigeria that was referred as the good old days, where parents were disciplinarians, training their children in a way that the society should be better for it. No child would come home with a flashy car without any known source of legitimate income. The family unit must therefore take a hard knock for not seemingly providing the right guidance for their wards.

The Plan International Nigeria, Country Director revealed that greed has generally increased among the old and young just as the social economic climate of the country has taken a dive, pointing out the population has grown exponentially, and the governments have failed to provide the required matching infrastructure for this young population.

He added that the pressure in the system is pushing every fiber of the nation’s wellbeing which is reflecting on the level of human trafficking, all the three entities-individuals, parents (families) and government need to be upfront and work in unison for a saner society.

Continuing, he said: “The NAPTIP said it recorded 79 convictions in 2022, the highest in a single year, since it was established in 2003. But there had also been an increase in the reportage of human trafficking across and violence against persons in Nigeria. That is a great leap forward and we hope that government will give more priority through investment and budgetary allocation to stem the tide of human trafficking.”

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