Constant trafficking in persons has provoked global concerns and concerted efforts in curbing the menace has become bothersome to the agencies saddled with the responsibility. BLESSING BATURE explores its socio-economic implications and the position of the law.
Human trafficking is one of the greatest crimes committed against mankind in this 21st century and high level of poverty in the developing countries, has made such an action to be highly patronised by people who are in search of better livelihood. The need to have better standards of living, prompts many of the people in poor countries of the world to seek better means of livelihood in high income countries; and many of them do not mind subjecting themselves to conditions laid down by their sponsors. Though naturally, none of them desires to become a victim of human trafficking, opportunities to escape poverty and live in affluence make them to end their journeys in the hand of those who are intoxicated by greediness to make money at all cost.
Besides drugs trafficking and gun running, human trafficking has become a lucrative business globally and yields an estimated US$32 million annually. Traffickers trade on human lives; subject them to gory and traumatic experiences in order to make profits.
This is therefore the worst form of human rights violation and gender based violence against females who constitute the majority of the victims in the country. Regrettably, Nigeria occupies the ignoble position of a source, transit and destination country for trafficking. In recent times, the scourge has assumed complex dimensions, becoming more elusive, shrouded in secrecy and with the attendant consequences and implications on the existence of the country. Data from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters (NAPTIP) show that 78 per cent of victims of human trafficking in Nigeria fall within the age range of eight – 27 years. Children within this age bracket are naturally of school going age. Victims of trafficking miss educational opportunities needed for today’s global world.
This explains the dynamics of human trafficking in Nigeria, some emerging trends in trafficking, the socio-economic implications, government’s strategies in curbing the menace and possible adoption as good practice.
Human trafficking became an issue since the 1980s but it was not a phenomenon of high importance until 1990s; and it has become a regional, national and international problem that calls for serious concerted effort among the governments of the world. It has become one of the greatest means of human exploitation in this present-day; and it can be seen as a modern slavery in which victims have become slaves to other people who use them for financial benefits.
In Nigeria, for instance, the crusade against human trafficking garnered appreciable momentum since the country became signatory to the Transnational Organised Crime Convention and Trafficking in Persons Protocol in December 2000. To coordinate the country’s anti-human trafficking efforts, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) was established in 2003 via the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act (2003).
Since its establishment, NAPTIP has been spearheading efforts to stamp out the menace from the country and its efforts have been widely acclaimed as purposeful, resourceful and successful by observers within and outside the country.
According to NAPTIP, no fewer than 41 persons have been convicted for various forms of human trafficking across the country in the last one year, and 359 people had so far been convicted for different offences of human trafficking since 15 years of establishment of NAPTIP.
One of the reasons people are leaving their countries in search of greener pasture is poor infrastructure in the developing countries. In Nigeria, lots of social amenities are in dire need of replacement and those who are in good condition cannot accommodate the existing facilities. As at today, more than 80 per cent of African people do not have direct access to electricity and blackouts are common occurrences. The electric power supply is very epileptic and lots of people do not enjoy power supply in a day. Many wait for days before they can have supply of electricity and this would only last for a brief period, which may not even be up to an hour in some areas until many days later; and this would repeat itself all over again.
This has caused many people who are artisans to become crippled under the burden of poverty because they depend on constant supply of electricity for their works. Many of them are idle throughout the day. This, however, shows that electricity consumption has significant effect on poverty, that is, the lower the rate of electricity consumption, the higher the rate of poverty. Inability to involve in productive activities as a result of epileptic power supply leads to poverty. No one wants to die of hunger and this has led to several people resorting to all forms of illegal means in order to enjoy better standards of living.
In Nigeria, prior to the ratification of the Organised Crime Convention and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, the Migrants Protocol, Nigerian law, including the Penal Code, the Criminal Legislative framework 109 Code, the Labour Act and the Immigration Act, had criminalised various offences relating to human trafficking, but the legislation was widely seen as ineffective. In 2003, the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 was adopted. The Act effectively criminalises human trafficking to reflect the definition contained in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
Greater priority has been given to combating human trafficking in recent years, with millions of naira being invested, a lot is being done and a great deal has already been accomplished. However, human trafficking itself, remains difficult to suppress. Victims find it difficult to report trafficking in human beings for various reasons, but even if they do report an offence, the charges are often difficult to prove. This does not give a valued judgment on the evidence in the cases that were analysed.
There are numerous pitfalls that regularly lead to disparity in the assessment of the legal consequences. Human trafficking outside the sex industry was also criminalised quite recently. The point at which poor working conditions tip over into exploitation remains a question that can only be answered in the context of all the circumstances of a specific case proceeding.
Data from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters (NAPTIP) show that 78 per cent of victims of human trafficking in Nigeria fall within the age range of eight – 27 years. Children within this age bracket are naturally of school going age
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