Human trafficking is a crime. In this article, MAKINDE OLUWAROTIMI observes that trafficking in persons has become the largest manifestation of slavery in present times, depriving people of their rights and fundamental freedoms
Human trafficking is an offence, both against the human conscience and against the state. Underlying the heinous crime of trafficking in humans is the fact that globalisation has created inequalities and inequities resulting in the migration of the poor to the rich regions of the world. Accompanying this also is the related dimension of security of states and individuals, significantly jeopardised by activities of international criminal gangs or networks of crime specialising in money laundering, arms trafficking, advance fee fraud and human trafficking.
In this organised crime, there are recruiters. These are people who go to villages to deceive young girls and boys through their parents. They give the impression to parents of assisting their relations for better education, employment without the full knowledge of what awaits their children.
Recruiters include sisters, brothers, in-laws, driver, business men and women, law enforcement officers, etc. The would-be victims move from one stage to another until they get to their final destinations where these young girls and boys are distributed to madams and “ogas” who need their services.
It should be noted that the two weapons used by traffickers to get their victims are deception and force. Those who engage in trafficking persons are often friends, relations, neighbours and familiar people to victims. Human trafficking is an organised crime. It has a chain of syndicate. An increasing number of African migrants got drowned in the Mediterranean seas in their bid to cross to Europe. Many met their deaths in the deserts of North Africa. In fact, the European Union says that one in every 10 illegal immigrants who entered Europe from 2015 to 2016 was a Nigerian.
Destinations for trafficked Nigerians include the neighboring West African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon and Guinea), European countries (Italy, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom), North Africa (Libya, Algeria and Morocco) and Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia).
Recently, South America has also become a point of destination for trafficked persons, particularly Venezuela. Primarily women and girls, but boys are also trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ harvesting. The EU Deputy Head of Delegation, Richard Young, disclosed this while addressing a conference for action on illegal migration and trafficking, organised by Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) in Abuja.
The event was themed: Strengthening a Multi-Stakeholder Partnership and Creating Cooperation in Curbing Illegal Migration and Human Trafficking. Mr Young said:” 20,532 persons, entered Europe illegally in those years; 2,084 are Nigerians at 10 per cent.” Human trafficking has remained a global scourge, with Nigeria acting as a source, destination, and transit country.
On April 3, the head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen, said Nigeria was seen as “a global source and destination for sex trafficking, forced labour, transit and trafficking in human organs.” According to a 2018 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 1.4 million Nigerians, or around 0.7 per cent of the total population, are living ” in a state of modern slavery.”
The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act (2003), defines trafficking as all acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transportation within or across Nigeria borders, purchases, sales, transfer, receipt or harbouring of a person involving the use of deception, coercion or debt bondage for the purpose of placing or holding the persons, whether for or not involuntary servitude (domestic, sexual or reproductive) in forced or bonded labour, or in slavery-like conditions.
In the same light, Article 3(a) of the United Nations Palemo Protocol, see human trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force, other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation”.
In a bid to stem this worrisome tide, the Nigerian Young Professional Forum is collaborating with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in strengthening a multi-stakeholder partnership and creating cooperation in curbing illegal migration and human trafficking.
The chairman and founder of NYPF, Moses Siloko Siasia, said the issues of irregular migration and the accompanying threat of human trafficking is considered a major burden to society, one that has established its capacity as an instrument of regression that erodes every feature of humans and civilization.
Siasia said he was initiating a platform that would see the gathering of stakeholders, policy and decision makers for the core purpose of engagement and exchange of experiences, scenarios and know-how that would inspire efforts in finding effective ways for communities and non-state actors to address the question of human trafficking and irregular migration productively and on how national governments can support and empower derivers of such initiative.
The international action on illegal migration and trafficking in persons conference is an initiative of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum borne out of these sad revelations and reports, and out of a patriotic desire to offer Nigerian tailored solutions to a problem that has desolated lives and communities. For the Director-General of NAPTIP, Ms Julie Okah-Donli, who was represented by the Director, Intelligence Public Enlightenment, NAPTIP, Orakwua Arinze, migration is a positive phenomenon if properly regulated and coordinated.
“It is a complex global issue that concerns every nation and we are all enjoined to adopt a win-win partnership strategy to curb irregular migration,” she said. According to Folashade Okeshola of the Department of Sociology at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, “Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. It is an illegal business and a social problem.”
Okeshola said it is a social problem because it affects many people. “It affects different categories of people. It is a social problem because of the magnitude, the trend and pattern it has taken over the years. This business has unleashed untold hardship on victims who are mostly women and children. For most crimes to succeed there must be a giver and a taker. For the crime of trafficking to succeed, there must be people who aid or facilitate the movement and transportation of victims to a defined destination. There must also be a group who abets the crime, and who are the receiver.”
“Human trafficking has continued to strive in Nigeria because of collusion among security, immigration, embassy and airline officials and traffickers. These officials often take bribes in exchange for facilitating smooth passage across the borders for traffickers and their victims,” Okeshola said.
Also, Dr Adebimpe Adenugba of the Department of Sociology at the University of Ibadan said the practice of entrusting poor children to more affluent friends or relatives may create vulnerability. “Some parents sell their children, not just for the money, but also in the hope that their children will escape a situation of chronic poverty and move to a place where they will have a better life and more opportunities,” he said.
Within Nigeria, women and girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked for forced labour in street vending, agriculture, mining, stone quarries and as domestic servants. There is high demand for child workers at the household level, agricultural, construction, quarries and brass melting mostly in the informal sector.
Poverty is the principle driving force behind this trade, propelling vulnerable people into the hands of traffickers, who belong to both small-scale, local enterprises with extensive criminal networks and to large scale multi-commodity businesses.
According to the chairman of NYPF, Moses Siloko Siasia, human trafficking has grave implications for Nigeria since the victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination. “They are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide, services to the traffickers (pimps/madams) whose services may be by bonding, forced labour to commercialised sexual exploitation,” he noted.
In addition, the arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment or in terms which are highly exploitative. Also, in some cases the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt. All the acts above are infringements to human rights of persons as spelt out in Nigeria Constitution of 1999, chapter 4, section 30 which states that “every Nigerian have the right to life which the traffickers violate by the use of physical coercion that sometimes leads to death.”
Persons’ rights to personal liberty, are what the traffickers deprive victims from enjoying through forced labour and the rights to freedom of movement, are also deprived them, except approved to do so by their madams.
Source: Leadership – https://leadership.ng/2019/07/21/how-human-traffickers-are-reinventing-slavery/