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IOM urges Nigeria to take decisive action against human trafficking

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IOM urges Nigeria to take decisive action against human trafficking

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has urged Nigeria to take decisive action to combat trafficking and sexual slavery in the country.

IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission Frantz Celestin made the appeal in a message to commemorate the International Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2021, which is celebrated on July 30.

Celestin also tasked the United Nations community and other stakeholders to support similar action.

According to him, Nigeria’s role is very crucial given that it has the largest number of victims of trafficking in Africa, and also serves as a transit and destination country.

He said a 2018 report from the Walk Free Foundation estimated that more than one million people lived in modern slavery in Nigeria, most of them trafficked in the domestic market.

He added that the criminals of such a profitable business model have found ways to cover their tracks and increase their earnings, underscoring the need to take the right steps.

For the UN representative, at the top of the list of actions that could help stem the threat is giving voice to victims and survivors, an accusation that he said resonated with the theme of the 2021 commemoration: ” The voices of the victims lead the way ”.

He said that in order to be able to take the right steps to combat human trafficking, it had become important to listen and learn from the experiences of victims.

“On July 30, 2021, we commemorate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

“The plight of millions of children, women and men who experience coercion, exploitation and humiliation is real.

“This year’s theme for World Trafficking Day – ‘Voices of Victims Lead the Way’ – highlights the importance of listening and learning from survivors of human trafficking.

“Sadly, often ignored, the voices of victims and survivors are essential in developing and implementing strategies, policies and measures to prosecute perpetrators.

“At worst, they face revictimization and penalties for seeking help for the crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.

“We call on our partners to put victims and survivors at the center of our collective responses, learning from their stories and drawing on their courage and resilience,” said Celestin.

He stressed, however, that criminal elements have always taken advantage of economic, social and political vulnerabilities to exploit their victims, noting that the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has exacerbated these vulnerabilities, especially with distracted government attention.

He said that with governments’ attention focused on how to strengthen health systems and cope with the growing rate of job losses, victims often had no chance to be heard.

Celestin noted that the provision of essential services and support mechanisms has been severely limited as countries now struggle to meet all the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“At IOM, we are concerned about the seriousness and dimensions of this problem.

“This is why our anti-trafficking work strongly focuses on assisting and protecting victims of human trafficking, including other vulnerable migrants, and on carrying out awareness-raising activities.

“IOM is working closely with NAPTIP to develop and strengthen the capacity of state and non-state actors at all levels to provide protection support using a victim-centered approach,” he said. .

He said IOM had continued to work with NAPTIP to combat human trafficking, with the establishment of several state human trafficking working groups and “legal centers” for trafficked persons. .

He said these efforts have enabled access to justice and strengthened cross-border coordination.

Celestin recalled the commitment made by Nigeria in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in order to facilitate the access of trafficked persons to justice.

He stressed that the initiative has also enabled them to safely report experiences without fear of detention, deportation or punishment, and to provide migrants who have become victims of trafficking with protection, assistance and counseling. repair.

He stressed, however, that much remains to be done, calling on government partners, civil society organizations and the United Nations community in Nigeria to “give voice to victims and survivors of trafficking – make them powerful. agents of change in our societies.

“Use their experience and knowledge to create human rights-based, victim-centered anti-trafficking interventions.

“Improve international, regional and local cooperation – to monitor migration routes to prevent trafficking, collaborate in cross-border investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators, and provide protection and assistance to those in need at any stage of their migration journey .

“Quickly identify, refer and assist victims of trafficking – to protect their rights and dignity and to promote their psychosocial recovery and reintegration into society.

“Implement a whole-of-society approach to combating human trafficking – reaffirming the key role of frontline actors, including victim and survivor-led initiatives, in informing effective responses to the needs of victims of trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a crime and a violation of human rights. It has no place in our world. Victims and survivors must be heard, ”he said. (NAN)

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