U.S. urges Nigeria to prosecute officials involved in human trafficking

President Barack Obama

The U.S. said Nigeria could do more to fight human trafficking.

The United States Department of State has urged the federal government to take proactive measures to investigate and prosecute government officials “suspected of trafficking-related corruption.”

This was contained in a 2013 Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons, TIP, report released by John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, on Wednesday.

The report stated that though Nigeria remained in Tier 2 status because the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; it is making “significant” efforts to do so.

The report commended the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP, for its improved anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts as well as provision of specialized anti-trafficking training for its officials.

During the reporting period, NAPTIP initiated 117 trafficking investigations, commenced at least 17 prosecutions, and achieved 25 convictions, according to the report.

Another 143 prosecutions remained pending at the end of 2012.

There was a significant decrease in the number of investigations from the previous reporting period’s 279 investigations, the report noted.

“NAPTIP’s Public Enlightenment Unit continued to conduct national and local programming through radio and print media in all regions of the country to raise awareness about trafficking, including warning about fraudulent recruitment for jobs abroad,” the report said.

While largely applauding the government agency for its efforts, the U.S. noted that the federal government had not yet satisfied the minimum standards set forth in the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, TVPA, to justify an upgrade to Tier 1.

“For example, the government has yet to pass draft legislation that would restrict the ability of judges to offer fines in lieu of prison time during sentencing, and the Nigerian Police Force continues to experience difficulty identifying trafficking victims,” said the report.

“Additionally, the Ministry of Labor did not make any new efforts to address labor trafficking during the reporting period, despite the identification of a significant number of labor trafficking victims,” it added.

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