Human Trafficking Day: NAPTIP rescues 14,000 victims in 16 years

Julie Okah-Donli
Director General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli

The Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli, on Tuesday said the agency has since inception in 2003, secured 403 convictions, with over 14,000 victims rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated back into their various communities.

Ms Okah-Donli said this at a lecture organised by the NAPTIP to commemorate the 2019 World Day against Human Trafficking.

“The Agency has further strengthened the existing collaborations with various partners, as well as formed new alliances on all fronts to boost the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria and beyond.

“Recently, NAPTIP successfully inaugurated State Task Forces to fight against Human Trafficking in Delta, Ondo and Ekiti States, in addition to the existing Taskforce in Edo State.

“We hope to replicate this in all 36 states of the federation because it aims at getting the State and Local Governments to take proactive steps towards the combat of human trafficking in their domains,” she said.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Human Trafficking: Call Your Government to Action”.

She said this should serve as an instruction “as it reminds all stakeholders that human trafficking is a horrible menace that is a threat to human and national security.”

This, she said, is because it endangers public health, fuels violence and organised crimes and “is the highest level of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.”

The official commended international organisations and countries such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), for their support in the agency’s aspiration to remain a global model.

She also commended the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Protection Plan, Mariam Uwais, for agreeing to launch the Sex Offenders Register.

She said this was aimed at making information about convicted sexual offenders available to people who need to know.

Section 1(4) of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 provides that, “A register for convicted sexual offenders shall be maintained and accessible to the public.”

She said, “In recognition of the efforts of the agency, …, Nigeria was recently upgraded from Tier 2 watch list to Tier 2 in the United States 2019 rating of the counter-trafficking efforts of countries around the world.

“Despite these achievements, NAPTIP is not relenting on its efforts at ensuring that the fight against human trafficking is won. It is a challenge we all have to address collectively, and all hands must be on deck to end the menace,” she said.

Renewed efforts needed

Meanwhile, the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, said there is a need to double efforts in the fight against human trafficking globally.

Mr Apata also said it is expedient for all hands to be on the deck in eradicating human trafficking, “following worrisome revelation that over three million persons globally are in situations of forced labour, as a result of trafficking.”

“The global efforts to stem the ugly tide of human trafficking need to be doubled to meet prevailing circumstances,” he added.

“I implore every actor in this campaign to reposition its modus operandi with a view to engendering a virile crime prevention mechanism to address the incidents of human trafficking and its allied offences,” he added.

Mr Apata, who disclosed that women make up 56 per cent of the victims of economic exploitation and that 98 per cent of the women are exploited in commercial sex, said human trafficking is a serious violation of human rights and has grown to become a widespread and very profitable international crime.

According to him, available statistics from the IOM as at July 2019, revealed that, “34,226 irregular migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea to Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus and Spain; and as for deaths recorded on the three main sea routes to these countries, the death toll stands at 683 Individuals, with an unaccounted number perishing in the hot sands of the Sahara Desert.”

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