The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS has called on member States to enhance collaboration to combat Trafficking in Persons in the region.
The Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs in ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Sintiki Ugbe, made the call at the Annual Review Meeting of the Member States Counter-trafficking in Persons Network in Abuja.
Dr. Ugbe explained that the collaboration was in line with its vision of achieving a prosperous region by 2020.
He said the region had made progress with implementing policies and texts at the national and regional levels but that it was pertinent for member States to enhance collaboration.
“In terms of what has improved, we have the right text, policies at national and regional levels, and the right institutions.
“Where we think we have not done too well is in terms of collaboration and you know collaboration is easier said than done.
“We need to improve collaboration and it is work in progress, so that is why we have these meetings,” he stated.
Reviewing Progress Made
The Director explained that the meeting served as a platform for member States to review the progress made, challenges faced and proffer solutions that would enhance collaboration to tackle the scourge.
Dr. Ugbe also said that the new ECOWAS plan of action adopted in 2017 recognised and addressed the migration linkages with trafficking and forced labour and emerging issues in combating the menace.
Prosecution of Traffickers
The Director-General, National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Mrs. Julie Okah-Donli, said the agency had been able to prosecute 396 traffickers since its inception in 2004.
Mrs. Okah-Donli said that more than 14,000 victims had been rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society by the agency.
“The efforts are yielding results because it is not a one-off thing. Right now, we have more than 200 cases that are still lying in various high courts across the country.
“On a daily basis, we go to court to prosecute all the defenders. It is an ongoing effort and we believe we are making positive impact,” she said.”
All Inclusive Approach
Mrs. Okah-Donli said that NAPTIP was working with stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive approach to combating human trafficking.
She said that the agency was collaborating with ECOWAS to implement a framework that addressed trafficking in persons through policy, protection, prevention, prosecution and partnership.
“Those are the five Ps we are utilising and we working together to resolve the issues of human trafficking in the sub-region,” she added.
The three-day meeting, which is the 12th in the series, is on the implementation of the ECOWAS plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ,UNODC, 2018 Global Report on trafficking in persons, countries in West Africa tend to detect far more victims of trafficking in Africa.