Today is 30th July 2020 and the United Nations has set aside 30th July each year as the International Day Against Human Trafficking. This is done to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims and promote as well as protect their rights.
Human trafficking is any illicit trade of humans for the purposes of making profit for the traffickers. Examples include forced labour, sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriages, child solders, tissue or organ harvest etc.
During the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, between 1776 and 1865 about 15 and 20 million enslaved people were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa and purchased from traders of enslaved people throughout Europe, European colonies and some other parts of the world.
It is unfortunate that history is being repeated as today citizens especially women, children and persons living with disabilities are being trafficked both internally within our borders and externally across the world. Human traffickers adopt various strategies to get their victims. These strategies include pretense, social media posts, job adverts, threats or kidnapping.
The Covid-19 has added another dimension to the challenge of human trafficking not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Of recent, a case of a Nigerian lady who was being advertised by her “owner” in far away Lebanon was awash all over the media. In some cases, people are being sold for as low as NGN20,000 Naira only.
It is now imperative that this year 2020 and with the theme of caring for frontline workers against human trafficking, Nigerians need to rise and take a collective decision to stop the menace of human trafficking in our nation.
We should also ponder and assess ourselves on how far we are waging the war against the modern day slavery and to consider the efforts and ponder on the safety of the frontline officers in the face of Covid-19.
The frontline officers include the law enforcement agents such as NAPTIP, NIS, NSCDC, Nigeria police etc. Also the Civil society actors, social workers in which NACTAL members are prominent right from the community where victims are sourced to the transits points such as the borders, at the destination in other states or countries and even at the point of repatriation and reintegration.
This year the language is now “stay safe” hence we need to ensure we protect the people working in the front line saving and rehabilitating the victims of human trafficking.
Therefore we call on the state and Non state actors to increase their effort in the battle.
Let the Federal Government put more political will and funding into this fight and not depend on foreign support most times.
Let the state governments in Nigeria also support this war at their respective states by providing the political will and the required resources. Let the states look into the full implementation of the Childs rights laws, CEDAW, VAP and other policy documents while establishing and funding the task forces on TIP.
Let those promoting illegal and fake job outside the country be scrutinized and check. This is the latest trend of enslaving our people.
Let the media institutions stop taking advert from all the job placement companies without conducting detailed investigations.
Let the community leaders follow the action of Oba of Benin by invoking the gods against the traffickers.
Let the law enforcement agencies train and retain personnel at the beat of human trafficking rather than posting such to other duties briefly after being trained.
Let the religious institutions take the care of the flocks as a priority by providing right information and support job creation for young adults.
Let international partners such as UN agencies, Government of other nations, embassies, INGOs, and others work more to reduce the demand for sex and labour slaves in their countries. Let accord the migrants from developing world same rights and respect accord to migrants from developed nations.
When we do this, we protect the victims of human trafficking and they will be confidence to name and shame their traffickers, we will keep the Front liners safer and win the war against traffickers.
As we commemorate this year International day Against Human Trafficking, NACTAL with over 150 registered organizations is poised to keep working both at the community, national and international level. We shall continue to work with other partners to ensure the battle is won and lives safe.