Lagos, Nigeria May 2022 – Fighting human trafficking and migrant smuggling along the Niger and Nigerian border is of national, regional, and global concern. The passage between Niger and Nigeria is one of the main channels along various migrant smuggling routes, which also often mirrors trafficking in persons routes. These routes include a reciprocal trade between Niger and Nigeria, as well as further destinations such as North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Illicit labour recruiters and human smugglers facilitate the transport of people through this route, and in many cases end up exploiting these vulnerable people for greater profits.
On 16 November 2021, the Directors General of the Nigerien National Agency to Combat Trafficking in Persons (ANTLP) and the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
This cooperation is within the framework of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its protocols on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants which outlines the need for states to cooperate with one another in order to effectively combat trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.
It is in this context, that UNODC under the The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Niger (GLO.ACT-Niger) funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Strengthening Evidence-Based Response to Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (GLOX64) funded by the government of Canada, and Strengthening Nigeria’s Criminal Justice Response to Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (PROMIS) funded by Netherlands projects gathered government agencies and civil society organizations from Nigeria and Niger in Lagos, to discuss mechanisms for establishing joint activities to better identify, refer and protect victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants.
Held in Lagos, Nigeria on 4 to 7 May, 2022, with representations from NAPTIP, ANTLP, the police, Immigration, Ministry of Justice, civil society organizations, and international development partners, the forum focused on promoting cooperation and information sharing on TIP and SOM, engaging government, policing and judicial systems, and other relevant entities in a dialogue and enhancing cross-border cooperation between Niger and Nigeria.
On the last two days of activities, participant took part in a study visit to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), during which they were enlightened on the operations of NIS in its fight against smuggling of migrants. They also visited the NAPTIP shelter, where they were taken round the facility where the victims of human trafficking are received, counselled and given social support before they are referred or re-united to their family.
At the end of the forum, participants resolved to take steps that will foster cooperation between the two countries in order to tackle trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants to the barest minimum. They pledged their commitment to reinforce international cooperation and internal coordination in investigating and prosecuting TIP/SOM cases.
The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Niger (GLO.ACT-Niger) is a two-year (2019 - 2021), € 500.000 joint initiative by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). An earlier phase of this project (2015-2019) was supported by the European Union.
The project builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 and assists the Government of Niger in targeted, innovative and demand-driven interventions: sustaining effective strategy and policy development, strengthening the criminal justice response, and regional and trans-regional cooperation.
This project is funded by the Government of Italy.