Nigeria heeds global call, sets up State Task Force against human trafficking

In determined efforts to decrease vulnerabilities to trafficking of women, children and youth by raising awareness of the scourge, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is partnering States and non-state actors to establish Task Forces on Human Trafficking.

Premised on the need to strengthen State and non-State multi-sectoral response towards combating Human Trafficking in Nigeria, the State Task Force against human trafficking was first established by the Edo State Government but currently replicated in Ondo, Delta and Ekiti States with the support of UNODC in partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). Other States are expected to replicate the establishment soon.

The State Task force initiative is part of UNODC's project titled, " Strengthen the capacities of state and non-state institutions to assist, support and protect Victims of Trafficking (VoT) in Nigeria" implemented in partnership with NAPTIP and funded by the US Government. A major output of the project is to support an improved partnership coordination in the referral process for the support and protection of trafficked victims.

In 2018, UNODC released the Report on Trafficking In Persons and cited that globally, countries are detecting and reporting more victims, and are convicting more traffickers which could be because of increased capacity to identify victims and/or an increased number of trafficked victims. However, country profiles still indicate Nigeria has low conviction rate compared to the number of human trafficking incidents in Nigeria as a country of origin, transit and destination.

It is imperative that the Nigeria government must demonstrate strong commitment in their response at all levels to disrupt and break the chain of human trafficking. Against this backdrop, State Task Forces are established with key stakeholders (donors, development partners, law enforcement agencies, MDA's, NGO's traditional rulers, Faith based organisations, etc.) and inaugurated by the State Governors to enhance multi-sectoral response towards prevention of human trafficking, protection of victims and their access to justice, prosecution of traffickers and successful rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.

This is also in line with the theme for this year's World Day Against Trafficking In Persons marked annually on 31 July which is  'Human Trafficking: Call your Government to action'.

The intervention is also in line with the whole-government, multi-sectoral cooperation among states parties promoted under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially of women and children. Also called Palermo Protocols, it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as Resolution 55/255 on 31 May 2001. The treaty entered into force on 3 July 2005 and ratified by Nigeria on 28 June 2001. As of as of May 2019 117 parties, including 116 states and the European Union have signed the protocols.