UNODC helps Nigerian Law Enforcement Agencies to hone digital investigation capabilities to tackle human trafficking

Lagos, February 2023: The 2020 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, highlighted the increased use of the internet by traffickers to lure their victims into sexual exploitation, forced labour and forced criminality. The expanded global usage of technology accelerated also by the COVID 19 pandemic has intensified these risks with traffickers using the internet to identify, recruit and control their victims, arrange, and transfer victims from source to destination countries, and launder the proceeds of their crimes. At the same time, the report identified a global slowdown in convictions of traffickers which may very well be linked to the increased use of technology by traffickers allowing them to shield themselves and their operations against investigations. The report, therefore, called on Member States to invest more into strengthening digital investigative capabilities of their relevant law enforcement agencies as well as promote judicial education on technology-facilitated trafficking. 

In order to help the Nigerian Government tackle these issues, UNODC under its projects on Improved-response-to-trafficking-in-persons and on Strengthening-Nigeria’s criminal justice response to TIP and SOM (PROMIS) and with the support of its Global Programme on Cybercrime funded by the Governments of the United States and the Netherlands organized a specialized training series on cyber intelligence, digital investigations and evidence handling for intelligence officers of the National Agency for The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Lagos State Neighborhood Agency (LNSA) and prosecutors from the cyber-crime unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMoJ). The highlight of the training was a practical exercise of a digital investigation and evidence handling at a simulated crime scene. The case investigated involved sextortion of minors by a local gang who used women as the online face to request for nude photos from unsuspecting victims and thereafter used the photo to exploit the victims. Three operations (operation viper, kasala and thunder) were undertaken by the case team comprised of intelligence officers, evidence custodian, crime scene photographer and the prosecutor’s office. The training allowed participants to learn cyber forensic techniques to track the location of the suspects, secure a crime scene including the handling of laptops, external drives and phones. Participants also learned how to ensure that during the course of investigations and preparations of files for prosecution, the rights of victims as well as suspects remain protected.

In line with its Strategic Vision, UNODC continues to support the Government in implementing the National Action Plan on Human Trafficking with a specific focus on strengthening the criminal justice response to trafficking in persons, enhancing prevention; increasing international cooperation with transit and destination countries, and promoting research and analysis of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.