US scores Nigeria high in combating human trafficking

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The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

The United States has commended Nigeria’s effort in combating human trafficking through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP.

The effort has upgraded Nigeria from the Tier 2 watch list to Tier2 in the 2019 US Trafficking in Persons Report released on Thursday by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The report is an annual global assessment of the level of compliance of countries to the minimum standards in the eradication of trafficking in persons around the world.

The development came on the heels of serious efforts on expanded awareness and stakeholder advocacy in all parts of Nigeria embarked upon by the Director General of the Agency to increase the knowledge of the people on issues of human trafficking as well as victim protection and support.

Nigeria had slipped from Tier 1 rating to Tier 2 watch list years ago due to some reasons connected with the prevailing security challenges in some parts of the country which placed additional burden on the frontline Agencies.

In the Report, the US Government stated that “The Government of Nigeria demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Nigeria was upgraded to Tier 2.

“These efforts included supporting implementation of a 2017 action plan between Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a government – supported non-governmental armed group, and an international organization to end its recruitment and use of child soldiers.

 “The Government convicted significantly more traffickers than the previous reporting period and initiated prosecution against seven government officials allegedly complicit in trafficking.”

Speaking to Journalists, the Director General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli disclosed that she received the Report with mixed feeling because she had expected Nigeria to be upgraded to Tier 1.

“Even though many people including partners of the Agency have been calling to congratulate me on the upgrading of Nigeria to Tier 2, I received the report with mixed feeling because I had expected Nigeria to top the tier 1 list.

“I would like to thank the President and Commander–in- Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for their support to the Agency within the period under review. The present administration has demonstrated the desired commitment and political will to combat human trafficking in the country.

“In the last one year, we have doubled our prosecution and number of convictions and revamped our strategies aimed at combating human trafficking through massive public enlightenment and  awareness creation campaigns, advocacy as well as other preventive measures,’’ she said.

“We commenced the inauguration of State Task Forces Against Human Trafficking as one of our grassroots concepts to ensure States’ participation.  Delta and Ondo States have fully taken off,  Edo State Task Force that was earlier on inaugurated were trained  while the Ekiti State Task Force will be inaugurated by Governor Kayode Fayemi next Monday 24th June, 2019. This project is being sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, (UNODC).

”In addition, with the support of ECOWAS and IOM, we recently embarked on sensitisation of border communities, Law Enforcement agencies and transporters within the Nigeria- Seme, Benin- Togo border corridor.

 “We have just concluded advocacy and sensitisation of key stakeholders in Lagos State with a visit to traditional rulers, schools and local government officials on the need to support the fight against human trafficking in the country,” the NAPTIP boss said.

The latest global commendation on the efforts of NAPTIP in combating human trafficking came barely few months after the Agency provided employment for three of the survivors of human trafficking rescued and sponsored through University education by the Agency and our civil society partners.

 

PR/Mercy Chukwudiebere