PREVENTION EFFORTS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA
At inception, NAPTIP faced the onerous tasks of first introducing itself to the Nigerian public, and then to explain why human trafficking was a crime, in view of the fact that most of the practices constituting the crime stemmed from traditional and accepted social norms such as fostering, travelling abroad for greener pastures, and the free choice of some women to earn a living from prostitution.
In the first eight years of the Agency, it adopted a strategy of massive public enlightenment, and engagement with vulnerable groups in order to provide them with information on the antics of traffickers.
This was combined with strong advocacy to opinion and political leaders at community, local government, state and federal levels, to ensure cultural change and secure political support.
In the area of law enforcement, the Agency embarked on confidence-building measures with existing Law Enforcement Agencies like the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Directorate of State Services, in order to enroll their support and cooperation in enabling the Agency realise its mandate.
In addition, NAPTIP undertook the training of officers of these Organisations on the rudiments of human trafficking, and facilitated the effectiveness of their Anti-Human Trafficking Units.
National Plan of Action (2009 – 2012)
In 2009, the Agency, along with its partners, developed a National Plan of Action structured on the four thematic areas of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership. The Plan, which was subsequently approved by the Federal Executive Council, set out to achieve the following:
• Mass (public) participation and ownership of the Plan of Action;
• A multi-dimensional and multi sectoral approach to its implementation;
• Inter-agency collaboration and participation with emphasis on public, private, partnership;
• An integrated gender sensitive component in all key implementation approaches especially in view of the growing feminization of the TIP/FL phenomenon;
• Capacity building awareness raising and direct assistant as key components of the multi-dimensional approach;
• Strengthening international and regional cooperation;
• The effective management of the TIP/FL and related data and information through the indigenization and domestication of the evaluation and monitoring (Quality Control) mechanisms and personnel of programme implementation, especially as they relate to national security and development;
• The marketing of good practices for replication and adoption nationwide, and in endemic states and communities.
Most of the objectives of the National Plan of Action were achieved in the life-span of the Plan, but coordination and collaboration among law enforcement agencies and service providers remained a major challenge.
NAPTIP Strategic Plan (2012 – 2017)
At the expiration of the National Plan of Action, the Agency developed a comprehensive strategic plan in line with the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The Plan aims to tackle human trafficking in 5 broad areas:
• Strengthening law enforcement and prosecutorial response to issues of TIP, including effective assets tracing and forfeiture;
• Reinforcing public enlightenment, using various mediums, including movies, drama and documentaries to create greater awareness on the real impact of trafficking;
• Expanding platforms for victim protection and assistance and addressing factors which increase vulnerability;
• Strengthening partnerships at national, regional and international levels; and
• Improving organizational development to enhance effective and efficient work culture in order to fulfil our national mandate.
The Agency has worked assiduously to establish partnerships for enforcing mutual legal agreements against trafficking in persons, with countries in West and Central Africa, and signed bilateral cooperation agreements with various countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Benin and Sweden.
Other efforts made by NAPTIP in the last two years include:
• Broadening of the Agency’s public enlightenment drive by developing and airing a television drama series on major networks in Nigeria, on the issue of Human Trafficking;
• Establishment of the “Victims of Trafficking Trust Fund” wherein monies realized from the sale of confiscated and forfeited assets of a convicted trafficker are paid for the benefit of survivors;
• Development of Standard Operational Manuals for key stakeholders;
• Development of an effective National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for better service delivery to victims;
• Evolution of a positive corporate culture for the Agency
• Continuous review of operational guidelines in line with experiences elicited from actual operations;
• Evidence-based research to aid in planning and programming;
• Advocacy and Public Enlightenment Initiatives (community mobilization, awareness raising and intervention projects;
• Re-enactment of the Agency’s enabling Act to enhance law enforcement and to remove ambiguities in judicial proceedings.
The modest achievements of NAPTIP over the last 10 years reinforce the importance of a strong coordination mechanism in the form of specific institutional and legal frameworks in the efforts to stem Trafficking in Persons. An Institutional National Rapporteur focuses national efforts, enhances accountability and responsibility, creates a core of professionals with capacity to effectively fight Trafficking in Persons, and to adapt to the evolving antics of traffickers. A specific Agency and legislation also enhances international cooperation on Trafficking in Persons, as it provides a unified and timely national response.